Cat Care – Checking for Ticks

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 30,972
    Dr. Candy Olson, owner of Greenbriar Animal Hospital demonstrates how to check your cat for ticks.

    Candy Olson

    Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.

    Hi, I am Dr. Candy Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital. Were making a video on tips on how to take care of your cat at home. This is Tashie, she is going to be helping us with this one. This one is how to check your cat for ticks and what the ticks look like. Now, Tashie is a very well taken care of kitty, she doesnt have any ticks. So, we have some ticks in the jar here, these are actual ticks that we have taken off of cats and dogs in the last year or two. You can see how they really vary. Some of them are barely the size of the head of the pin. Others are very light, large, short, fat. The big thing about ticks is that once they fasten on to your cat or dog or you, they take a few days to gradually fill up with blood, so that if you find a tick thats still flat, its not all round like a little water balloon, it hasnt been there very long, and hasnt had a chance to pass disease along yet. Ticks carry a lot of diseases, but they fill up with blood first, and then they inject any disease carrying organisms that they might have, and then they drop off and go their merry way, and lay a zillion eggs, and more ticks come out of that. So, thats the kind of process of things. If you do find a tick on your cat, you want to remove it right away. It is important to, as much as possible, not to handle the tick at all with your bare hands. At the moment our knowledge of tick born diseases is changing rapidly, but at the movement there is only one disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, that you can get as a person from just simply handling a tick thats carrying it. All you need is a little tiny break in the skin, a little hangnail, a little crack, and it is possible to get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from handling a tick. All of the other diseases, as far as we know, you have to actually be bitten by the tick for it to be transmitted. Nonetheless, it is an important thing to be careful about that. Cat should be protected from ticks if they go outside at all, particularly in Northern Virginia, where we are, its something to ask your local veterinarian. But, cat should also be protected from ticks if there is another cat in the household thats going in and out, or if there is a dog in the household thats going out, because they can bring ticks back in. Unfortunately, unless you live in the far North, tick season is all year, even in the winter time here we see fewer ticks, we see them every month of the year, these ticks were removed, January, February, August, September, every month. When youre looking for ticks, you want to do your touch, feel is a whole lot better than actually looking. As you can see some of these ticks are really small, so what you want to do is just use your fingers, give a gentle massage, and if you feel a lump, a little lump, anything there, then part the skin and go and look. Now, say I felt a little lump and she had a little tick right there. There is various tick removers. This is an excellent one because it doesnt have any sharp edges, so even if it was right up here on her face, next to her eye, you would be able to take it off without worrying if she moved suddenly, would you bump her in the eye. Tweezers are actually one of the worst things to use to take ticks off the animals, because its very easy to squeeze the tick or pinch the skin, neither of those are good, and because they are sharp, if the animal moves, you can cause some damage. So, something like this that doesnt have sharp edges is great. So, if she had a little tick here, what we would do is part the skin a little bit, and we would just scoop it literally, like we were scooping a scoop of ice cream. The tick would be wedged right there in that little v, and if the tick is still alive, then we will actually take out the whole tick; the mouth and the legs and everything will be there wiggling. Then what you want to do is just take a tissue and take the whole tick and flush it. This should be disinfected. When youre done with it, just with soap and water or alcohol or anything that you would normally use at home. You do want to make a note of where the tick bite was, and if there is any redness or swelling there, you should contact your veterinarian. As far as the ticks are concerned, cats are prone to several diseases that are spread by ticks, and were learning more about this all the time. So, its new and breaking information, very important. In certain parts of the country cats are prone to a very serious disease thats carried by ticks, and so its important to check with your local vet about this. So, thats the information on ticks. Next, were going to go over tips for grooming your cat with some special tools.