Was your cat stung by a bee? It can be scary not knowing how to treat bee stings on cats, or whether the reaction might be severe. For instance, can cats be allergic to bee stings like people can be? Indeed, that is possible. Learn more about what to watch for if your cat was stung by a bee and which next steps to take.
How can you tell if your cat was stung by a bee or wasp?
Although a bee sting is far more likely to occur if your cat goes outside, it’s not uncommon for a winged insect to make its way indoors during the warmer months of the year. These buzzing creatures can bring out the predatory instincts in your cat, including swatting and even attempting to eat the stinging insects.
If you notice your cat suddenly pawing at his face, chewing on his paw, or experiencing swelling anywhere on his body, he may have been stung by a bee or wasp.
Try to identify what stung your cat
Cat stung by a bee, a wasp, or something else? If you suspect your cat was stung, search the area for flying as well as crawling insects. You should also closely inspect the site of the sting on your cat: Bees leave their stingers behind, while wasps and other flying insects keep their stingers intact—and can therefore sting more than once.
Usually the reaction will be mild – but call your vet anyway
Typically a sting will result in a localized reaction, including mild swelling and tenderness. Keep in mind that a cat bee sting is more likely to occur on the face, especially near the nose, or on the paw. We recommend calling your vet just to be safe, as they may advise you to bring your kitty in for inspection or can offer treatment advice.
How to remove a stinger
A cat stung by a bee will likely still have the stinger embedded in the skin. This is not only painful for your kitty, but the stinger can continue pumping venom into the wound for up to three minutes.
Do not use your fingers or tweezers to remove a stinger, as they can squeeze the venom sack and worsen the reaction and resulting pain. Instead, use a credit card or driver’s license card to gently scrape the stinger away from the direction that it came in.
Can cats be allergic to bee stings? Yes
Like humans, a small subset of cats will be hypersensitive to a bee or wasp’s venom. After calling your vet, you’ll want to monitor your cat carefully for the next 24 hours or so. While most allergic reactions occur within 20 minutes of a sting, some can be delayed for hours. Severe reactions can be fatal—so if you notice any of these signs in your cat, get to your veterinarian, the emergency clinic, or animal hospital right away!
Early signs of an extreme reaction to a bee or wasp sting include:
- Extreme swelling, redness, and/or pain
- Lameness or limping
- Distressed vocalizations
- Compulsive licking of the wound site
Signs that your cat may be going into anaphylactic shock include:
- Breaking out in hives
- Disorientation or stumbling
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Excessive drooling
- Pale gums
- Low body temperature and cold limbs
- An abnormally slow or fast heart rate
If your cat experiences an extreme reaction, including anaphylactic shock, the veterinarian will likely administer antihistamines, corticosteroids, and/or epinephrine. They may also administer IV fluids and oxygen, and perform blood and urine tests to determine if there is organ damage. Afterwards, your vet may prescribe an Epi-Pen in case of future insect stings.
Treating a mild reaction in your cat
Fortunately, treating a cat bee sting typically won’t be too involved. Use the tips below to help your kitty recover from a mild reaction to a bee or wasp sting.
- Ask your vet about giving your cat diphenhydramine/Benadryl, which treats mild allergic reactions. Make sure the medication only has diphenhydramine as the active ingredient and is not combined with pain relievers, decongestants, etc.
- Soothe the wound site by applying a thick paste of baking soda and water. Or, if your cat has multiple stings, VCA Hospitals recommends a soothing oatmeal bath.
- Minimize swelling with an ice pack. Apply an ice pack, bag of frozen peas, or cooled towel to the affected area for 10 minutes to reduce swelling.
- Use a head cone or cat booties if your cat continues to lick, scratch, or bite the healing wound site.
- Give fresh water and soft food, especially if your cat was strung in or near the mouth and may find it difficult to eat dry food.
Cat stung by a bee or wasp? Now you know what to look for and why you should take the time to monitor your kitty in case of an extreme allergic reaction. Learn more about what else you should have prepared in a cat first aid kit!
Cover photo by Richard Braggins-Taylor on Unsplash