How Can I Tell If My Cat Has a Tick?

Ticks are a potentially serious health threat to cats. The parasites are generally the size of a pinhead but once they fill up with blood, they can swell to the size of a pea. When they reach pea size (this takes a few days to a week) they will be most noticeable. When engorged with blood, they resemble a wart, and they are usually a bluish or greyish colour. Ticks, which attach themselves securely to a cat's skin, are most likely to infect your pet if they remain on it for several days, so it's important to promptly detect and remove them.

Hold your cat securely in your lap. Comb your cat's neck and head with quick, forward strokes, combing in the opposite direction of the hair's growth. Allow the comb to glide along your cat's skin. Also inspect inside your cat's ears.

Comb and inspect your cat, in the same fashion as described above, along his back, shoulders, sides and tail.

Note any changes in the evenness or texture of your cat's skin. A raised bump, which you should be able to detect while combing, may be a tick. Spread your cat's fur and examine the skin wherever you feel a lump. If you find a tick, immediately remove it.

Comb your cat's legs entirely in upward strokes that glide against his skin. Be sure to include the sensitive lower part of his legs in your combing and inspection.

Flip your cat onto his back. You may need help restraining him, since many cats resist being placed in this vulnerable and uncomfortable position. Comb up against his skin across his entire belly with quick, forward strokes, combing in the opposite direction of his fur's growth.

Search for any redness, swelling, or irritation anywhere on your cat's skin that could be the result of a tick bite. Sometimes a tick will leave your cat's body before you've had a chance to detect it. If you find any suspicious-looking areas that may indicate that your cat has been bitten, consult with your veterinarian.


Treat your cat regularly with a pest repellent to prevent tick and flea bites. Keep your cat indoors year-round to protect it from ticks and other pests.


Symptoms of tick-borne infection, which may develop after a tick has left your cat's body, include muscle stiffness, fever, lack of energy, loss of appetite and dizziness. Seek immediate care if your cat exhibits any of these symptoms.

Things You'll Need

  • Fine-toothed cat comb
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About the Author

Juniper Russo, an eclectic autodidact, has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has appeared in several online and print-based publications, including Animal Wellness. Russo regularly publishes health-related content and advocates an evidence-based, naturopathic approach to health care.