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How to Remove a Tick From a Cat – 5 Vet-Approved Expert Tips

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By Misty Layne

a cat with tick on its head

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Depending on where you live, ticks can be prevalent during the warmer months of the year. And if you have cats, you’ll need to check them carefully for ticks during those months, as ticks need to be removed as soon as possible to prevent infecting your feline with disease. Diseases spread by ticks can infect your cat within 24 hours of a tick attaching itself, and not only can ticks make your pet ill, but some of the diseases they carry can infect you as well.

However, you don’t want to necessarily grab a pair of tweezers and start trying to yank a tick off the moment you see one. No, to remove a tick completely and safely, you’ll need to have a few tools on hand and know what you’re doing. What’s the best way to remove a tick from a cat? Here are five expert tips to get the job done right!

Before You Begin

As we said, you’ll need a few items before you can remove a tick. Here’s what to grab in preparation.

  • A tick removal tool or tweezers if you don’t have one
  • Disposable gloves
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Small container that seals to put the tick in
  • Treats for your cat
  • Someone to help hold the cat

If you are worried about removing a tick, don’t have everything you need on hand or are simply having trouble getting the tick off, head to your vet. Some ticks can be difficult to remove due to it being in a sensitive location on your cat’s body and it is best to let your vet take care of the tick for you.

The 5 for Removing a Tick from a Cat

Now that you’ve gathered everything you need to remove a tick, here are a few excellent expert tips on successfully getting the job done.

1. Locate the Tick

This is sort of an obvious first step in removing a tick, but first, you need to locate it. You should have an idea of where the tick is since you’ve already noticed it on your feline. But now you need to figure out exactly where it is so you can get the area surrounding it ready for tick removal. Have a family member or friend hold the kitty to keep them calm and still, and ensure you’re in an area that’s well-lit, then put on your disposable gloves. Once you’ve located the tick, you’ll need to part any fur around it to avoid pulling hair with the tweezers (because kitty will not enjoy that!).

human removing tick from a cat
Image Credit: anastasya perfenyuk, Shutterstock

2. Remove the Tick

Removing a tick off an animal (or human, for that matter) is tricky business. You want to do your best to avoid leaving the head of the tick in your cat.

If using a tick removal tool such as a tick hook- take care to read the instructions carefully. The tick hook needs to be positioned under the tick as close to your cat’s skin as possible. Then twist while carefully pulling. If using tweezers-position the tweezers on the tick’s body as close to your cat’s skin as possible. But don’t squeeze, just grasp the tick tight enough to be able to pull it out. Once the tweezers are in position, carefully (and slowly) pull on the tick to remove it.

Some ticks are more challenging to remove than others, so this may take a minute. Make sure whoever is holding on to your cat is keeping it still because your feline is probably going to get tense and unhappy throughout this process.

3. How to Handle the Head of the Tick Getting Stuck

Occasionally, the mouthparts of a tick will get stuck in your cat’s skin; there’s just no way around it, no matter how hard you try to get it all out. If this happens, treat it like you would a splinter you can’t remove. Don’t keep trying to get the tick’s head out because it will be more likely to cause an infection and delay healing than come out. Instead, leave it. Your pet’s body will usually either push the head out, or it will dissolve.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t monitor the area for a few days to make sure everything is alright, though. And if you see swelling where the tick was, visiting your veterinarian is a good idea.

Removing cat tick with a tick removal tool
Image Credit: Astrid Gast, Shutterstock

4. Tick Disposal

If you’ve been wondering why you had to gather rubbing alcohol and a container that seals for tick removal, here’s why—once you’ve got the tick off your pet, you’re going to put it into that container that has been filled with rubbing alcohol. This ensures the tick will be killed, so it can’t reattach itself to your pet. Once you’re sure it’s dead, you can flush it down the toilet or wrap it tightly in tape or a sealed container and put it in the bin.

5. Clean Up

Now that the tick has finally been removed, it’s time for cleanup! First, you’ll need to clean the tick bite gently with a pet friendly antiseptic.. Then, you’ll need to clean up yourself—dispose of your gloves, disinfect the tweezers before putting them away, and wash your hands. Then, give your kitty some treats for being so brave!

Also, remember to keep an eye on your cat in case any diseases were passed to it. If they show any signs of being unwell including lethargy, jaundice or loss of appetite- take them to your vet right away.

woman using cleaning wipes on pet cat
Image Credit: NONGASIMO, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Tick Bites

Of course, preventing tick bites is much better than having to remove a tick, and luckily, there are many ways to help prevent your cat from getting ticks. There are a range of products available, that are usually combined with flea prevention as topical treatments, collars, oral tablets and sprays. Speak to your vet to choose the right product for your cat.


Ticks aren’t fun for anyone, and removing them can be a pain as these guys can be tricky to get off. But with the five expert tips above, you should have a much easier time removing a tick from your cat if the situation arises. However, preventing ticks from getting on your cat in the first place is the best thing you can do, so grab a veterinary approved topical treatment, tick collar, or other preventive methods for your cat!

Featured Image Credit: thka, Shutterstock

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