Ticks are spider-like small parasites that suck blood from other animals. They have eight legs, with an egg-shaped body that will become larger and darker when filled with blood. Ticks are not like fleas as they do not fly or jump, but instead, they climb or drop on your pet’s coat when they brush past whatever they are sitting on.
Ticks are common in woodland and grassland and, although active throughout the year, you will see them between spring and autumn. Cats are less likely to get ticks than dogs, but it can still happen.
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The tick lifecycle
The life cycle of a tick consists of four main stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adults.
It is important to keep in mind that ticks are blood suckers and require a host to survive, grow and reproduce. Some ticks prefer to feed on the same host at each stage, while others may choose a different host at each stage.
The life cycle of a tick usually lasts two to three years but may survive longer or die sooner. The tick’s species and stage can affect the risk of transmitting diseases.
There is no way to completely stop your cat from getting ticks, but there are things you can do to reduce the risk:
1) Regular parasite control
- Using a regular parasite treatment (that covers ticks) means any ticks that attach to your cat should die and drop off within 24-48 hours.
- However, it is still sensible to remove any ticks you see. Although the risk is exceedingly small, removing them early will further reduce the chance of any potential diseases passing to your cat.
- There are many types of killing-treatments, such as collars, spot-ons and tablets.
- If you live in a high-risk area, or your cat is very prone to ticks, you may want to use a tick repellent collar to prevent any from attaching to your cat in the first place.
- The only safe and licensed repellent product for cats is the Seresto Collar.
- Tick repellent collars also provide protection against other parasites, meaning other flea treatments are not necessary while they are in use. Speak to your vet or SQP about the best parasite regime for you and your pet. Like every other collar, make sure any tick repellent collar you use has a quick release safety mechanism.
3) Be careful! Never use dog tick medicine on cats or vice versa.
- Some dog tick treatments contain chemicals that are lethally toxic to cats and can even cause long term damage in the survivors.
4) Check your pet when they come inside
- If you check your cat for ticks regularly, you may find them before they’ve had the chance to attach. Ticks are most common on the head, ears, armpits, groin, and tummy.
5) Remove any ticks
- Tick bites can carry diseases, so it is important to remove them straight away. When removing a tick, make sure you do not squeeze the tick’s body or leave the head in.
- If you squeeze its body or leave the head in, this can push blood back into your pet, which will increase the chance of them getting a disease.
- Alternatively, a tick removing tool is a good device.
- To avoid squeezing the body or leaving the head in, you will need to twist the tick off. This can be done using a tick removal tool, which can be picked up at pet shops or the vets. Your vet or SQP will be able to show you the best way to remove a tick by twisting.
- Do not try to burn them off or use lotion to suffocate them, as this will not prevent your pet from picking up a disease.
Remember, humans can get ticks too
Take precautions when walking your dog and wear long-sleeved tops and trousers to cover your skin. You can also use insect repellent to stop ticks.
Should you get bitten, use the tick twisting tool to remove the tick. If you are concerned, please speak with your GP.