Do ticks cause pain in cats?

Do ticks cause pain in cats? The answer is, yes, but they cause pain indirectly because they transmit diseases to cats and it is these diseases which cause pain. The act of a tick attaching itself to the skin of a cat or dog is not in itself painful or is not discomforting enough for the cat to be aware of it or discomforted by it. There may be some mild discomfort. It is the consequences of the tick feeding on the cat’s blood which is the real concern.

Tick on cat
Tick on cat. Photo in public domain.
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Ticks can spread diseases to cats including: tularaemia, Lyme disease, babesioisis, cytauxzoonosis, ehrlichiosis and haemobartonellosis. Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection normally transmitted to the animal by the bite of a very tiny tick referred to as the deer tick or black-legged tick. Lyme disease can cause severe symptoms which are painful. The disease causes inflamed joints, for example.

Babesioisis is transmitted from a tick to their host animal when a microscopic parasite is passed from the tick to the animal which infects red blood cells. The disease causes muscle pain, weakness and fatigue, headaches, chills and fever. In other words it causes pain.

Tick behind cat's ear
Tick behind cat’s ear. Photo:

I’ve made my point, I hope. Ticks do cause pain in cats, other animals and humans because they transmit diseases to them and it is those diseases which causes discomfort and pain. Perhaps, for the sake of completeness, it could be argued that the removal of a tick from a cat will produce some discomfort and perhaps even some mild pain depending upon how it is conducted.

Ticks are potentially a serious health problem and to be avoided. The blood of ticks can be dangerous to people. They shouldn’t be crushed or squeezing with your bare fingers so when removing a tick wear disposable rubber or plastic gloves. If you want to know whether a tick that was removed from your cat has transmitted a disease to her take it to your veterinarian for analysis.

Female deer tick
Female deer tick. Unbloated. Photo in public domain.

There is actually one last point on this topic which is that ticks can travel into ear canals which will cause irritation and discomfort. Their presence can also lead to inflammation and infection which in turn causes pain. Once again there is this secondary, indirect consequence: pain.

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