Types of ticks in cats
Two important tick species infesting cats in Australia are paralysis ticks and bush ticks.
- Paralysis ticks (Ixodes holocyclus): found along the east coast of Australia, from Cape York in the north down to Lakes Entrance in Victoria. They are occasionally seen outside this area (e.g., the greater Melbourne area). Paralysis ticks are one of the most dangerous parasites that can affect your pet because they produce a toxin which causes tick paralysis in cats and dogs.
- Bush ticks (Haemaphysalis longicornis): found along parts of the east and west coast of Australia. Bush ticks on cats can cause skin irritation where they attach to the skin. Heavy infestations can lead to anaemia from excessive blood loss.
How do cats get ticks?
Ticks on cats symptoms
The signs or symptoms caused by ticks vary depending on the species of tick. For example, paralysis tick symptoms may include one or more of the following:
- A change in voice (meow)
- Loss of coordination of the back legs
- Difficulty standing
- Breathing difficulty
If you notice symptoms consistent with tick paralysis you should seek immediate veterinary attention. Bush ticks do not cause paralysis but may result in inflammation of the skin at the attachment site.
How to get ticks off cats
Tick treatment for cats
How to prevent ticks on cats
Using an effective tick control product all year-round is one of the most important ways to protect your cat against ticks. Monthly treatment with NexGard SPECTRA® Spot-On for Cats protects cats against ticks, as well as fleas, mites, heartworm, lungworm and intestinal worms (including tapeworms). It provides the most complete parasite protection, all in one easy, monthly application.
Approved tick control products are very effective and will control the vast majority of the ticks that your cat may be exposed to, however, it only takes one tick to cause tick paralysis. For this reason, it is also important to perform daily tick searches on your cat if you live in, or you and your cat are travelling to, a known paralysis tick region.
Can ticks on cats transfer to humans?
Ticks can bite and attach to humans but they are almost always picked up from walking through vegetation and not from contact with pets.
I’ve found a dead tick on my cat, what should I do?
Sometimes a dead tick may be found attached to a cat (for example if you are using a tick control product which has killed the tick). In this case, the tick can be removed in the same way as a live tick – using tweezers or a tick removal tool, grab the tick adjacent to your cat’s skin, twist the tick and then pluck the tick away from the skin, taking care not to squeeze the tick’s body.
Should I worry if my cat has a tick?
Paralysis ticks can be potentially fatal so it’s critical to remove ticks as soon as possible and contact your veterinary clinic for advice.
How long does it take for a cat to get sick from a tick?
Signs of tick paralysis typically develop after a paralysis tick has been attached and feeding for 3-5 days. By the time you see or feel a tick on your cat it may have been feeding for several days, so don't delay in removing it and contacting your veterinarian.
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