How To Choose the Best Tick Prevention for Cats

Michael Kearley, DVM
Written by:
Published: July 14, 2022
How To Choose the Best Tick Prevention for Cats

The following content may contain Chewy links. PetMD is operated by Chewy. 

Ticks and tick-borne diseases pose a significant health threat to cats, even cats kept indoors. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect your feline friend. Being familiar with the different types of preventives, how they work, and how often to administer them is the first round of defense.  

Why Is Tick Prevention Important for Cats?

As pets have become integrated into our everyday lives, tick-borne diseases have risen and are important to protect against.

Ticks can attach to members of your household, drop off in the environment, and seek out your cat as a suitable host. They can hop a ride on your clothing or on another pet after being outside, and certain ticks can even be found in the home.

In addition to causing skin irritation, secondary skin infections, blood loss, and tick paralysis, ticks can transmit numerous diseases to cats, including:

What to Know Before Choosing Tick Prevention for Cats

The wide variety of tick preventives includes topicals, collars, and tablets, with their effectiveness lasting from 1 to 8 months. It can be quite daunting to choose the right product, but your veterinarian can help you find the one that works for you and your cat.

Things to consider when choosing the right tick preventive include:

  • Age and weight: Some products can only be used if your cat is younger than 8 weeks and less than 1.5 pounds.

  • Environment: Certain products are only effective against particular tick species, so be sure to check which ticks are commonly found in your area.

  • Lifestyle: Certain products, such as topicals, tablets, and collars, may be easier to use than other medications.

  • Medical conditions: Some products are not recommended for pregnant or lactating cats, and others are not recommended in older or debilitated cats.

  • Other pets in the home: Be sure that all pets in the home are protected, as they can serve as hosts.

Best Tick Prevention for Cats

Year-round tick control comes in a variety of applications in the form of dips, sprays, topicals, tablets, and collars. Regardless of which form you choose, most products are designed to kill the tick or cause it to drop off its host before disease transmission. This is important because you are not only preventing disease to your cat, but also to other household members, including yourself.

Topicals:

  • Bravecto (fluralaner): Suitable for cats older than 6 months and weighing more than 2.6 pounds. It is given once every 8-12 weeks depending on the type of tick (typically American dog ticks and deer/blacklegged ticks).

  • Catego (Dinotefuran, fipronil, pyriproxyfen): Suitable for cats older than 8 weeks and weighing more than 1.5 pounds. It is given once a month to protect against American dog ticks, deer/blacklegged ticks, Lone Star ticks, and brown dog ticks.

  • Frontline Plus (fipronil, methoprene): Suitable for cats older than 8 weeks and weighing more than 1.5 pounds. It is given once a month to protect against American dog ticks, deer/blacklegged ticks, Lone Star ticks, and brown dog ticks. This medication is also labeled safe for pregnant and nursing cats.

  • Effipro (fipronil) or Effipro Plus (fipronil, pyriproxyfen): Suitable for cats older than 8 weeks and weighing more than 1.5 pounds. It is given once a month to protect against American dog ticks, deer/blacklegged ticks, Lone Star ticks, and brown dog ticks. This medication is also labeled safe for pregnant and nursing cats.

  • Frontline Gold (fipronil, S-methoprene, pyriproxyfen): Suitable for cats older than 8 weeks and weighing more than 3 pounds. It is given once a month to protect against American dog ticks, deer/blacklegged ticks, Lone Star ticks, and brown dog ticks. This medication is also labeled safe for pregnant and nursing cats.

  • Revolution Plus (selamectin, sarolaner): Suitable for cats older than 8 weeks and weighing more than 2.8 pounds. It is given once a month to protect against American dog ticks, deer/blacklegged ticks, Lone Star ticks, and brown dog ticks. This medication is also labeled safe for pregnant and nursing cats.

Collars:

  • Seresto (flumethrin, imidacloprid): Suitable for cats older than 10 weeks and of any weight. The collar is worn around the neck and provides up to 8 months of protection against American dog ticks, deer/blacklegged ticks, Lone Star ticks, and brown dog ticks. Caution should be taken with older or sick cats.

Oral Tablets:

  • Credelio (lotilaner): Suitable for cats older than 6 months and weighing more than 2 pounds. This is a chewable tablet given once a month and protects against deer/blacklegged ticks. Caution should be taken with cats with a history of neurological disease.

Treat Environment for Ticks

Strategies to follow in treating the environment for ticks include:

  • Remove or create a barrier for secondary tick hosts such as rodents; this may include fencing in or limiting access to your yard from wildlife and feral animals that can deposit ticks.

  • Treat the yard by consulting a professional pest control company; most require keeping your pet off the area until the chemical is dry, if not longer (do not use products containing the chemical permethrin, as it is toxic to cats and can cause tremors and seizures).

  • Avoid certain places like wooded areas and tall grasses.

  • Keep weeds under control.

  • Keep cats indoors, especially during active tick season.

Be Sure to Check Cats for Ticks

Tick-borne diseases are transmitted while ticks are feeding on their host, which varies from 3 to 48 hours. If ticks are found and removed before this time window, then the chance of the disease spreading is significantly decreased.

Consistently checking your cat for ticks is vital in preventing disease transmission. At a minimum, check your cat for ticks daily, especially if you live in an area more prone to ticks, such as wooded or forested areas.

If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, then check them after they come inside each time.

The best places to check for ticks on your cat are:

  • Eyelids

  • Inside and around the ears

  • Neck/collar area

  • Between the toes

  • Groin

  • Armpits

  • Tail and anal areas

Tick Prevention for Cats Is the Best Medicine

Preventing ticks and tick-borne diseases is done safely and effectively with many products available on the market. Partner with your veterinarian to determine the best product for you and your cat.

Veterinarians recommend giving your cat tick preventives year-round, since ticks can survive in all types of temperature.

Featured Image: iStock.com/Adene Sanchez


Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

How to Brush a Cat
How to Brush a Cat
Connect with a Vet

Subscribe to PetMD's Newsletter

Get practical pet health tips, articles, and insights from our veterinary community delivered weekly to your inbox.