How Did My Cat Get Ticks?

PetMD Editorial
Updated: October 13, 2020
Published: February 26, 2013
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Ticked Off Yet?

Even if your cat stays close to home, ticks are canny creatures, and they have ways of making it into your home and onto your pets, even with preventions in place. All it takes is a few ticks to get established in an area to set up a full-scale infestation of your yard, your cat, and your home. Here are five common ways your cat gets ticks.

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#5 Other Animals

No yard is an island unto itself, and squirrels, raccoons, feral cats, and other small rodents will find ways to get into your yard, carrying ticks along with them. This is one reason not to encourage wild animals to come into your cat’s domain by leaving out offerings such as corn, nuts, and seeds. Even a bowl of water, left out for when your cat is outside, is an invitation for other animals to hang about.

Image: Denise Kappa / Shutterstock

#4 Human Transportation

You and your human visitors can also be unwitting carriers of ticks. They can be brought in from the person’s own home or pet without their knowledge. If you like to spend time hiking in areas where ticks are prevalent, it’s easy for a few to hitch a ride on your pants leg, socks, shoes, etc.

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#3 The Great Outdoors

Anytime your cat goes out into the world — even if only for short stroll around the block; a visit to the veterinarian; a ride in the car; etc. — he/she is being exposed to the opportunity for ticks to hop aboard.

Image: Yiannis Papadimitriou / Shutterstock

#2 Poor Landscaping

For the outside, there are some plants that are known for their tick repelling characteristics, and it is worth it to try anti-pest landscaping. However, it is often easier and more effective to use chemical pesticides and repellants for yard and perimeter treatment, especially when dealing with a tick infestation that is already in full progress.

Image: Alison Hancock / Shutterstock

#1 Ignoring the Problem

If you suspect there are ticks in your area (and there probably are), don't ignore the problem. Use tick preventives year-round and inspect your cat periodically. It’s much easier to start early, keeping parasites from getting a foothold, than it is to try to eradicate them after they have had a chance to breed and establish themselves in your home and on your cat.