Ticks are little spider-like insects. They vary in size from half to a few millimeters. They rarely grow larger than one centimeter. The life cycle of a tick starts as a larva and, via various intermediate stages, ends after 2-3 years as an adult tick. Ticks are most active in the period March to October, especially in humid weather.
They are parasites that live off the blood that they suck up from humans and animals. On average, 14% of the ticks are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme Disease. This disease can develop in both humans and animals. Another tick-borne condition is Babesiosis. This is a protozoan infection that resembles malaria; the tick must be attached for at least 24 hours to be able to transmit Babesiosis.
With the cat, a tick bite reveals itself, because the tick itself is still visible, or by feeling a lump(s) on the skin of the cat. The most critical risk factor for infection is the time the tick spends on the skin. The tick takes the time to suck itself full of blood. The longer it takes, the higher the risk of infection. So you have to remove the tick as soon as possible. Therefore check the cat regularly (at least once every two days) for ticks!
The trick is to take the tick by the head and pull it out with a rotating movement. At the pet shop, there are several tick removal tools available. Never use alcohol, or a cigarette, to stun/remove the tick. The tick may spit out the contents of the stomach in a reaction, which increases the risk of disease! An anesthetized tick, or even a dead tick, is no easier to remove than a live one.
Do not use any tweezers, either. This increases the chance that the tick will not come off completely. The head will get stuck in the skin and can cause infections. Some flea preparations also work preventively against ticks!