Cats and Paralysis Ticks

The Catexplorer team is based in Australia and as the weather heats up, it indicates that we are moving into summer. It also reminds us that paralysis tick season is upon us.

At this time of the year paralysis ticks are often front of mind, so much so that we thought it was something that impacted everyone around the world! We have only just found that paralysis ticks are only really found on the east coast of Australia.

But first:

What is a Tick?

Ticks are often found in woodland, grassland and open country areas. However, if you live in an area with lots of wildlife, they may be in your garden too.

They are most prevalent between spring and autumn, but are around throughout the year. It is a myth that ticks cannot survive the colder months – the right circumstances allows for their survival.

Unlike flies and other insects, ticks don’t fly. Rather, they climb or drop onto your cat’s coat when your cat goes past the area the ticks are sitting in.

As ticks feed on the blood of animals, they become carrier of various diseases. These diseases are not only dangerous for your cat, but also for your family.

Furthermore, if your cat gets bitten by a lot of ticks, it can cause your cat to become anaemic – but this would require many ticks!

How to Check Your Cat for Ticks

Every time your cat comes inside after being outside, you should check for ticks

While ticks can attach to any part of your cat’s body, majority are found around their head and neck.

You are more likely to feel a tick than see it.

  1. Start by using both your hands to feel your cat’s fur and skin.

  2. Ensure that you also check in their ears, under their chin and around their throat.

  3. Feel down their front legs and in between their toes.

  4. Keep feeling along their body

  5. Check their belly.

  6. Feel down their back legs and in between their toys

  7. Check their genital region (as ticks can be found there)

  8. Check their tail

Tick Prevention

Before choosing a tick prevention method, speak to your veterinarian, as they will be able to help you make an informed decision.

Tick prevention options range from topical treatments, collars, dips, shampoo, sprays and powders.

There are also potentially several methods to prevents ticks on cats without using chemicals – however, speak to your veterinarian prior to using these.

A note on essential oils - Some homeopath tick treatment/prevention may suggest using essential oils. However, there are many essential oils that are toxic to cats. As such, we strongly recommend that you speak to your veterinarian about any essential oil use, particularly for your cat.

Paralysis Ticks

The most well know Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is found in the busy coastal areas along the eastern seaboard of Australia.

There are 2 types of ticks in the US who can also cause paralysis in your cat – American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni). These are mostly found in the Rocky Mountain States, Pacific Northwest and south eastern states.

Paralysis Tick bites can have devastating effects on your cat as the saliva they inject into your cat contains a toxin that disrupts the connection between your cat’s nerves and muscles, resulting in weakness and paralysis.

This paralysis is not only in muscles that are used for movement, but also those that are needed for breathing and swallowing.

In short – paralysis ticks are scary and dangerous!

How to Prevent Paralysis Tick Bites

The most common method to help prevent paralysis tick bites is to stop your cat from going outside. However, given that most cats in our community explore the world with their owners – this is not a viable option.

There are several medical options – we recommend that you speak to your vet about what prevention method you should use and its side effects. Typically these options require application at intervals. Examples include Bravecto and Frontline.

Symptoms of Paralysis Tick Bites:

  • Uncoordination

  • Weakness

  • Collapse

  • Vomiting or retching

  • Change in meow

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Loss of appetite


If you suspect that your cat has been bitten by a paralysis tick, contact your vet immediately.

They will be able to help you remove the tick and conduct the required treatment.

What has been your experience with paralysis ticks?