This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase I earn a commission at no extra cost for you.
A tick infestation in a cat is not only dangerous to your pet, but also to you as the cat owner. Cats like resting in people’s laps, sleeping on the couch, or even in your bed. This makes it very easy for ticks to spread in a home. Cats can pass on a disease called Bartonellosis to humans through ticks.
There is also a risk of infection with Lyme disease if the ticks are carriers. Using the best tick repellent for cats is the best prevention and much easier than treating a tick infestation or curing a cat suffering from a tick-borne disease
The Best Tick Protection For Cats
There are chemically synthesized tick repellents and natural repellents based on essential oils extracted from plants. Of both options, there are many products that provide tick protection for cats.
While natural ways to repel ticks on cats have fewer unwanted side effects, they are by no means as effective as chemical tick repellents. Here are some proven ones that provide the best tick protection for cats.
Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
How Does Tick Repellent For Cats Work?
The best Tick Repellents for cats contain one or more different active ingredients that also work in different ways, whether they are repellents or pesticides. After the external application, the active substances usually spread through the fur and skin.
Repellents have a repelling effect, creating an unpleasant smell or cloaking the cat under such a smell, making it difficult for the tick to find or remain on its host.
Pesticides don’t just keep ticks away, they are toxic for ticks and ensure that the ectoparasites die soon after they come into contact with treated fur or skin.
In addition to the different modes of action, there are also various forms of application.
How to Apply Tick Repellents For Cats
- Spot on – once-a-month topicals, chemical repellents: These are easy to use, are very effective, and have long-lasting effects. A couple of drops are applied in the neck area, and active ingredients slowly spread over fur and skin, acting against ticks, fleas, and other external parasites. Common ingredients used in topicals include Fipronil, Methoprene, and Etofenprox.
- Sprays – Tick-repellent sprays come in pressurized aerosol bottles or pump bottles. For cats, pump bottles are preferred instead of aerosols which the cat can mistake for the hiss of another cat. Do not spray on the face but spray onto a cloth and use it to daub the cat. Reapply at the recommended intervals, to maintain permanent protection.
- Collars – Repellent collars keep ticks away from favorite hiding places such as the back of the neck, in or around the ears, and the underside of the neck. Collars have the disadvantage that cats can sometimes get caught in obstacles
Synthetic repellents or Natural, what is the best tick protection for cats?
Whether you use a natural or chemical tick repellent for cats requires weighing up the pros and cons. Take into account the occurrence of ticks in your area and to what percentage of the ticks are carriers of pathogens. As a pet owner, you need to consider whether the risk of side effects is greater than the risk of tick-borne disease. Many natural remedies have some effectiveness but are not nearly as effective as synthetic repellents.
Synthetic repellents are often more effective at repelling ticks than natural products. However, synthetic products may contain harsh chemicals and toxins that can irritate your cat’s skin and be toxic if ingested. It is important that they are used exactly as directed. If used incorrectly or overdosed, there is a risk of undesirable side effects. However, the risks are low in relation to the risks of a tick-borne disease.
Natural Tick Repellents
Non-synthetic tick repellents for cats contain a combination of natural essential oils like peppermint, rosemary, cedarwood, and lemongrass. These essential oils are safe to use around cats and are proven to be effective at repelling ticks. But they are not as effective as those made synthetically! So additionally, regular brushing and combing of your cat’s coat can help to remove any ticks that may have been picked up.
Nevertheless, many cat owners opt for natural tick protection products for cats. These include:
- Blends of essential oils tolerated by cats.
- Coconut oil – has hundreds of uses among them it is effective against ticks, fleas, and mites.
- Raw apple cider vinegar – In addition to the strong scent of vinegar, the apple cedar gives a shine to the cat’s fur. This is safe for cats and children.
- Beer Yeast – is a pet food supplement.
- Diatomaceous earth – also known as Diatomite. This is very fine-grained soil or rather rock that consists of fossilized remains of ancient algae. Diatomaceous earth is not a real repellent but rather a means to treat tick infestations. Sprinkle on the pet and rub thoroughly into the fur. Ticks getting into contact with it will die due to the dehydrating effect diatomite has on insects.
Do NOT use repellents containing permethrin and pyrethrin for cats
Not every product is suitable for every pet. Permethrin which works well in dogs must not be used in cats. Cats lack a specific enzyme, so a cat cannot metabolize permethrin. If a cat has come into contact with permethrin, symptoms of intoxication such as diarrhea, drooling, vomiting, convulsions, and tremors can occur.
If you have accidentally used permethrin-containing tick repellants, or you suspect that your cat has come in contact with it, you must take your cat to a veterinary doctor immediately as permethrin poisoning in cats can be life-threatening.
Certain essential oils are not tolerated by cats due to their special metabolism, so you have to be careful only with essential oils and natural repellents that are safe for cats.
For best protection from ticks and tick infestations, it is recommended to regularly inspect the cat’s fur after it has been free-ranging. Crawling ticks or already latched-on ticks should be removed immediately. Both measures together, inspecting the cat’s fur and using effective tick repellents, offer the best protection.
Garden owners may cultivate tick-repellent plants in their yards to reduce the population of ticks around their houses.
How Do Cats Get Ticks?
Cats are hunters. They roam their territory looking for prey. And where there are prey animals, there are ticks because ticks depend on hosts to complete their lifecycles. Ticks sit waiting on low grass, leaf shafts, or branches, often at the tip of the blade of grass or branch, and raise their front legs. When a victim gets close enough, they latch on to the host with their front legs and begin crawling around, looking for a good place to bite.
Cats are keen groomers when they have nothing better to do they either sleep or are busy grooming. Grooming is normal behavior for cats and helps keep their fur clean. That way, the cat often finds and removes ticks that have not yet bitten and began feeding.
Signs Of Tick-infested Cat
- Ticks crawling on the fur
- Visible ticks that are stuck in the skin
- Cat itches and scratches all the time
- Infested cats are grooming excessively.
- When parting the hair of the cat, visible red patches and irritated skin or
- Scabs and flaking in the areas of tick bites.
- Small, inflamed areas of the skin
How To Know If My Cat Has Ticks?
If your cat is an outdoor cat, you will need to regularly check its fur for ticks. You should also monitor the cat’s behavior for any changes as this can be a sign that something is wrong.
It can be difficult for a human to find small ticks (larva or nymph) in the cat’s fur, hence the myth that cats don’t have ticks. But if you do see one or two ticks you should remove them immediately. However, if there are a lot of ticks on your cat, it can cause serious problems. In this case, you should take your cat to the veterinarian.
Observation of your cat is important. If the behavior changes and deviates from the normal, then something is wrong.
In the case of unnoticed tick infestation and illness from tick bites, weight loss, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy can result. There are many different symptoms that can indicate whether the cat’s reaction is a simple tick bite or a serious problem as they can transmit and spread these diseases.
In severe infestations, cats show several symptoms like itching, anemic conditions, lethargy, and weakness. In some situations, ticks cause paralysis, and the paralyzed cat shows severe tremors.
Direct Effects Of Tick Bite
If a cat is bitten by a single tick, the tick bite itself usually has no serious consequences. There may be a slight local inflammation at the bite site, which usually goes away on its own.
If, however, pathogens should have been transmitted during the bite, then there is a risk that the cat will get sick. If the cat is infested by a very large number of ticks, the blood count can also change.
Another rare effect is tick toxicosis. Engorged female ticks can inject a considerable volume of toxins with saliva into the wound. These toxins can cause severe tremors in cats. This is dangerous because we can’t identify this condition at the early stages. Paralysis doesn’t start until the ticks have been feeding for at least 4 days.
Indirect Effects Of Tick Bite
The indirect effect is disease transmission. The most common diseases transmitted from ticks to cats are Lyme disease, Feline infectious anemia, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tularemia, and Cytauxzoonosis.
Lyme disease – This is the most common tick-borne disease. Deer ticks and Western black-legged ticks transmit Lyme borreliosis. Symptoms that can be observed are lameness, anorexia, swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints, and fever.
Feline Infectious Anaemia – causes anemia, anorexia, sudden fever, and weakness. Vector is the lone star tick.
Babesiosis – we can observe dark-colored urine because of the destruction of red blood cells. Pale color gums can be seen. The vector is the deer tick.
Most Common Ticks In Cats
- Lone star tick
Ambloyomma americanum is known as the lone star tick. There is a silvery-white star-shaped spot on the hard shield called the scutum of the adult female. That is why they are known as lone star tick. Their mouthparts are relatively larger than other ticks.
- American dog tick
It is an oval brown color tick with whitish to grey markings. The basis capituli of this tick is a rectangular shape. This tick is a member of a hard tick family. Dermacentor variabilis is known as the American dog tick, and it causes tick paralysis.
- Deer tick
The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), is also known as the black-legged tick, and in some parts of the US as the bear tick is known to be the carrier of Lyme disease. Larvae and nymphs parasitize on small mammals mostly rodents. The adult ticks infest larger mammals, preferably on white-tailed deer, but also on dogs and cats. Humans can also get bitten by them.
- Brown dog tick
The brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) is also known as the kennel tick. This tick’s primary host is a dog. It bites cats or other warm-blooded animals (including humans) when there are no dogs. . The adult is reddish-brown and easily recognizable as a kennel tick. The species can transmit a variety of diseases to dogs.
- Longhorned tick
This type of tick is originally native to Asia and has only recently appeared in North America. Unfortunately, the cat seems to be finding suitable conditions in North America as it is spreading quite quickly. The species has also been found in cats and dogs.f
How To Get Rid Of Ticks On Cats?
When your cat is infested with one or two ticks, remove them right away. The best approach is to use a special tick hook. With this, you can grip the tick and slowly, but with steady light force pull it out. Be patient and make sure that the tick comes out in one piece. Should something remain in the wound, then its part of the mouth apparatus. However, the foreign body is usually repelled from the skin within a few days. So take your time and slowly remove the tick. After removing the tick, rub the bite site with a disinfectant. Kill the tick by drowning it in rubbing alcohol.
If there are a lot of ticks and the whole fur is infested then a proper treatment with a dip must be carried out.
There are several products available commercially to treat tick infestations. You should select the appropriate medication wisely. Do not use products that are for dogs. They can often be too strong dosed and may be toxic to cats.
Choosing topical treatments, collars with acaricides, and medicated shampoo-like treatments to prevent and treat tick infestations should be done under the supervision and advice of a veterinarian.
How To Prevent Cats Getting Ticks?
Taking a preventive method will help you to save your money and time before it is too late. There is a saying, “prevention is better than cure”. So if you are a responsible cat owner, first take decisions to prevent infestation.
The wisest decision you can take is to make sure your cat does not roam tick-prone areas, but that only works with indoor cats. Cats that roam outside often have a large area and depending on the number of ticks in the area, contact with the parasites can hardly be avoided.
What’s The Best Tick Repellent For Cats?
The Spot-Ons that we have discussed earlier, are particularly effective means of keeping ticks and other ectoparasites under control. These topical remedies are very convenient and are among the best tick repellent for cats. Easy to use, with the help of a small pipette, and is usually applied directly to the cat’s neck skin once a month.
The active ingredients in Spot-Ons act on contact, which means that the parasites die within a very short time when they crawl around on the cat’s fur. Preparations such as Frontline or Seresto are highly effective, you can get them from the vet or in a pet shop.
Spot-Ons are chemical preparations and in rare cases have side effects. As a pet owner, you have to consider whether there are so many ticks that it is necessary to use them on cats. Never use products made for dogs on cats, because they could be too strong. Use ONLY products specially designed for cats and apply exactly as instructed.
If the best tick repellent for cats did not provide enough protection and your cat is heavily infested with ticks, you need to take your cat to your veterinarian. If the infestation is severe, the cat not only needs medication, but further treatment, for example, to treat anemia and dehydration, may also be necessary. In such a case, only the vet knows what is best to do.
Do cats need tick protection?
Besides the fact that ticks can infect cats with dangerous diseases, parasites weaken your pet’s immune system making them more susceptible to other diseases. If you want to avoid complications and additional expenses in treating your pet, it is essential to take care of your cat’s tick infestation promptly. Of course, preventive measures are even better so that tick bites do not even happen.
In any case, if you are not sure how to protect your pet from ticks and parasites, do not hesitate to consult your veterinarian and get advice on what is the best tick repellent for cats and whether this is necessary at all given the local area where you live.