If you live in a tick-prevalent area it’s worth checking your pet regularly by running your fingers through their coat feeling for a little lump, look inside their ears and between their toes. They are usually easy to see and feel.
If you find a tick on your pet, it’s best to remove it as soon as possible as it can spread disease. If you’ve never removed a tick before, or you’re unsure how to do it, you should consult your vet who can show you – if you don’t remove the tick properly you risk leaving the head buried beneath the skin, which can result in a nasty abscess.
The best tool to use is a specially designed tick remover. This hooks under the body of the tick, and will remove the tick whole with a gentle twist. It’s very quick and easy to do.
Alternatively, you can use tweezers, but make sure you always twist, rather than pull the tick out. Once removed, check the tick is whole, then soak it in alcohol to kill it or squash it in tissue and dispose of it, be careful as engorged ticks will contain potentially infected blood. You do not want this to splatter on you when crushed. Do not crush the tick with your fingers and do not allow the crushed tick or the blood it carried to contact your skin.
It was once thought that you should burn the tick or rub it in alcohol before it’s removed. This has been proven to stress the tick and increase the likelihood of spreading blood borne diseases, so this is no longer recommended.
Occasionally, your pet may get a small, localised swelling where the tick was removed. As long as the tick has been completely removed and your cat isn’t bothered by it, the swelling should disappear within a couple of months. You can also use a spot on treatment or an impregnated collar, which will kill the tick after a few hours.