Multiple options for cat tick control this spring

Q: It’s only been warm for a few weeks, and I have already found a tick on my cat. What do you recommend for tick control for pets? P.L., Farragut

A: There are multiple options for tick control in cats. Most often, we recommend topical treatments, as some cats can be difficult to medicate orally. Some products will control fleas and ticks, and some combine heartworm prevention and intestinal parasite control.

In general, cats are much more sensitive than dogs regarding chemicals and medications In other words, what may be safe for your dog may not be safe for your cat.

There are some shampoos that can be used for cats, but always read the label to be sure that the product is safe for cats and age appropriate (some are not safe for puppies or kittens). Some of the over-the-counter flea and tick preventatives have caused severe side effects in cats, so please be careful with those and always read the labeling before using.

For dogs, there are more options, including flavored chewable preventatives. Similar to cats, there are topical treatments that can be applied to the skin; these are best for pets that do not swim or get bathed often. There is also a collar that works fairly well for many dogs for 6-8 months.

Ticks are always a concern for our pets, as they can cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lymes disease and lesser known diseases such as Ehrlichia, Hemobartonella, and Tularemia. In severe cases, dogs and cats can become anemic (low-blood levels) due to ticks.

Tick-borne diseases are much easier to prevent than treat, so tick prevention should be used every month. With the past few winters being warmer than usual, we have unfortunately been seeing ticks almost year round.

Talk to your veterinarian about tick control for your pets. He/she will know your pet’s medical history and recommend what is most appropriate for you pet.

If you have questions about your pet, please email Dr. Myer at