How to Tell the Difference between Fleas, Ticks and Mites

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Things You'll Need

  • White piece of paper

  • Brush

  • Comb

  • White paper (optional)

  • Magnifying glass


There are many over-the-counter medications that can be used to treat fleas, ticks and mites on cats. But it's still important to take your pet to the vet to be sure that is the actual problem and not another more serious disease.

Tell the Difference between Fleas, Ticks and Mites

While most skin infections that cats can get aren't deadly, they can be very alarming. Take ear mites, for example. They attack the area in and around your cat's ears and the result is very unpleasant, to say the least. But how can you tell if your cat has mites, fleas or ticks? Only a vet will know for sure, but here are some things common to each of them to help you out.


Step 1

Symptoms include scratching, chewing and licking the fur repeatedly, red and irritated skin and occasionally also hair loss.

Step 2

Rub or brush your pet's back over a white piece of paper. Flea feces contains blood and if there are fleas on your pet, brownish-red flakes will be noticeable on the white paper after brushing him.

Step 3

Get your cat checked by a vet for worms. Some fleas also carry tapeworms, so check for weight loss.


Step 1

Like fleas, ticks are parasites that feed on your cat's blood. Unlike fleas, ticks can carry disease like Lyme Disease that can be passed onto humans.

Step 2

Know that while a cat won't have symptoms from the tick itself, if he has contracted a disease from the tick, he may be lethargic, have a fever, vomit or have sore joints.

Step 3

Be aware that if your cat has been outside recently, you should brush through her fur with a fine tooth comb, carefully looking for any ticks. If you find any, use gloves or a tweezers to remove them. The best way to dispose of a tick is by wrapping it up in toilet paper and flushing it.


Step 1

Know that unlike fleas or ticks, mites--ear mites--are localized in the ear. They appear as brown clumps inside the ear canal.

Step 2

Learn that a cat with ear mites will scratch at his ears and shake his head, as if he's trying to shake them out. The area around the ear may become red or sore due to the frequency and urgency of the itching.

Step 3

Kill ear mites with over-the-counter medications quite easily. The main thing to remember with ear mite drops is that the solution needs to get down into your cat's inner ear. They will try to shake the medicine out. To prevent this, gently cover their ears or hold their ears down until the fluid can drain deep inside.