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How to treat your cat for ticks

Your cat needs prompt attention if these parasites make an appearance

The trouble with ticks1

Hundreds of species of ticks have been identified worldwide, yet only a dozen or so are associated with transmitting a serious disease to cats.

Outdoor cats are more likely to pick up a tick than indoor ones. Nonetheless, a tick that you unwittingly carry home on your own clothing, shoes, or skin can end up hitching a ride on your cat even if he never ventures outside.

Check your cat2, 3

Long-haired cats and those with dark coats are more vulnerable to tick disease since these pests can burrow into the fur and remain undiscovered until they are engorged with blood. It is easier to find a tick on cats with shorter coats and lighter hair.

A tick can attach itself anywhere on your cat’s body, but most burrow into the face, neck, ears, feet, or legs. Once there, it stays until you remove it or it becomes so engorged with blood after 3 to 4 days of sucking that it drops off. At this point, female ticks also lay eggs.

Starting at your cat’s head, examine the inside and outside of his ears. Continue along your cat’s body, checking for bumps around the collar and continuing to his rear, including under the tail, and around the anus. Also, check his underside.

If you find a tick

Don’t panic — but know that the longer a tick stays on the skin, the more likely it is to transmit disease.

Ticks can be a challenge to dislodge, but you can remove one yourself by following these steps. 2, 3

  1. Wear gloves
  2. Grasp the tick with tweezers below its body and near its head, where it’s attached to the skin.
  3. Apply steady pressure and pull the tick out. It’s important to get the entire tick and not leave any part of it attached. If you can’t remove the entire tick, bring your pet to the veterinarian to extract the remainder.
  4. Try not to squeeze the tick, so you don’t push fluids or parts of the tick’s body back into the skin.
  5. Place it in a capful of rubbing alcohol to kill it. Wash your hands immediately.
  6. To help your veterinarian, bag the tick for identification and bring it to your visit.

Monitor your cat carefully after removing a tick, because symptoms of illness might not show up for weeks.

Sick from a tick

It’s possible you may never see a tick bite your cat, yet he may still become ill from one. Signs that an infected tick has bitten your cat can include:1

  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Stiff and swollen joints
  • Fever
  • Skin infection/inflammation

Any of these symptoms require prompt veterinary treatment.

Protecting your cat

Even if your pet never leaves the house, it’s vital to protect him from tick bites since ticks have been found in nearly every state. And spring and summer aren’t the only seasons when fleas and ticks are active. The warmth of a heated home can also serve as a tick breeding ground.

Note: Many products that kill ticks, particularly ones designed specifically for use on dogs, can be toxic to cats. For example, permethrin is a commonly used insecticide safe for dogs. But it’s toxic to cats, and cats that come into close contact with recently treated dogs can become sick.4

BRAVECTO® (fluralaner topical solution) for Cats can help protect your cat from fleas and ticks and is available from your veterinarian.


  1. Ticks and Your Cat. Cornell Feline Health Center.
  2. How to Remove a Tick from a Cat. PetMD.
  3. Does My Cat Have Ticks? PetMD.
  4. Feline Toxins to Steer Clear of This Kitten Season. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. June 9, 2021.

Important safety information

BRAVECTO (fluralaner topical solution) for Cats: The most commonly reported adverse reactions include vomiting, itching, diarrhea, hair loss, decreased appetite, lethargy, and scabs/ulcerated lesions. BRAVECTO Topical Solution for Cats has not been shown to be effective for 12-weeks’ duration in kittens less than 6 months of age.  BRAVECTO Topical Solution for Cats is not effective against American dog ticks beyond 8 weeks of dosing.  For topical use only. Avoid oral ingestion.   The safety of BRAVECTO Topical Solution for Cats has not been established in breeding, pregnant and lactating cats.  Fluralaner is a member of the isoxazoline class.  This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, ataxia , and seizures. Neurologic adverse reactions have been reported in cats receiving isoxazoline class drugs, even in cats without a history of neurologic disorders. Use with caution in cats with a history of neurologic disorders. 

BRAVECTO (fluralaner topical solution) for Cats kills ticks (black-legged tick and Asian longhorned tick) for 12 weeks. BRAVECTO Topical Solution for Cats also kills American dog ticks for 8 weeks.

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