You're doing it wrong: Tick control for cats

  • by DR Roxanne Jones
You're doing it wrong: Tick control for cats

Cats can get ticks

Many people assume that cats can’t get ticks, so they don’t use any preventative tick control methods. The reality is that they can pick up ticks just as dogs do, especially when they roam the neighbourhood, and carry them into your garden or home where they can transmit disease to your cat or move onto your other fur babies or even onto someone in your family.

Diseases your cat can get from a tick

Ticks are small, blood sucking ectoparasites that latch onto the skin of mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians. They can carry diseases, such as miycropalsmosis (formally known as haemobartonella or feline infectious anaemia), which can be transferred into your cat’s bloodstream when a tick latches onto their skin.


In certain areas of South Africa, particularly in the Cape, cats can get tick bite fever which is a nasty disease carried by ticks that could be fatal

Certain types of ticks bite onto your cat and can cause trauma to the skin resulting in large painful wounds. Severe tick infestations can cause major blood loss. It is absolutely essential to do adequate tick control on your kitty cat throughout the year.

Vet recommended tick control

An ideal method which is very effective is spot on tick control that is registered for use in cats. Spot on applications are ampoules of liquid that are placed on the skin on the back of their neck once a month. There are many vet approved products such as Frontline, Advocate, Fiprotec or Activyl of which our vet recommends Frontline as her choice. For spot on to work effectively, your kitty can’t be bathed 3 days before and 3 days after the application.

Spray on tick controls such as Frontline Spray are safe and effective and can even be used on kittens. Cats may not enjoy the spraying as they get quite wet, and there tends to be a very strong smell. The same rule applies here though, no bathing 3 days before or 3 days after the application.

Other forms of tick control

Unfortunately, there are no registered oral tablets for tick control for cats in South Africa yet. Dips are not appropriate for cats because they are difficult to use, may poison your cat if used incorrectly. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you choose a dip that is safe for cats, mixed at the correct ratio and doesn’t contain Amitraz. Tick collars are also not ideal because most have poor effectiveness. However, there are vet registered collars available.

Avoid purchasing tick control products from supermarkets as their products are usually of inferior quality and effectiveness. Rather stick to products that are registered for use in cats from vets or vet pet shops. Remember to never use a dog product on a cat as they may contain ingredients that are poisonous to them.

Cats don’t suffer from ticks as much as dogs do but it only takes one tick to make your fur friend sick. Prevention is better than cure.

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