What To Do If Your Cat Gets Bee and Wasp Stings in Cats

Your cat is lounging on the patio, happily soaking up the summer sun. Suddenly, it leaps up with a startled yowl. A bee has stung it right on the nose!

Bee and wasp stings are no fun for anyone, including cats. While most stings cause only minor irritation, some felines can have severe, even life-threatening reactions. It’s important for cat parents to understand the risks, recognize symptoms, and know how to respond if their furry friend has an unfortunate encounter with one of these flying insects.

How Common Are Bee And Wasp Stings In Cats?

Bees and wasps swarm outdoors during warm weather, so cats who go outside are at risk year-round in temperate climates. Indoor cats can also get stung if an insect finds its way inside.

Exact numbers are hard to pin down, but veterinarians report seeing bee and wasp stings in cats on a fairly regular basis during summer. Cats’ curiosity makes them prone to investigating bees and wasps up close, which leads to defensive stings.

Kittens under a year old seem particularly likely to get stung, probably because they are more inquisitive and less cautious than adult cats. One study found kitten cases spiked in late summer and fall when bee and wasp populations reach their peak.

Signs Your Cat Got Stung

How can you tell if your cat was stung? Look for these signs:

  • Sudden yowling or hissing
  • Agitated behavior like shaking the head or paw
  • Swelling, redness, hives or welts at the sting site
  • Licking or chewing at the wound
  • Limping or holding the leg up if stung on a paw
  • Rubbing the face if stung on the nose or head
  • Excessive drooling or swallowing
  • Panting
  • Meowing or crying pitifully

You may actually see the stinger protruding from the skin. Bees and wasps lose their stingers after stinging, but the venom sac may continue pumping poison. Speedy stinger removal limits the dose.

Some or all of these symptoms occur within minutes. But cats can have delayed reactions too, so keep an eye out for the next 12-24 hours.

Dangers Of Bee And Wasp Stings

For most cats, bee and wasp stings cause local pain, swelling and itching. They may be distressed, but the problem stays confined to the sting site and resolves within a day or two.

However, stings pose some serious risks in susceptible cats:

  • Allergic reactions: Cats can develop allergic responses to the venom proteins in bee and wasp stings. Reactions can be mild (hives, swelling) or severe. Anaphylaxis is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, pale gums, collapse, and shock. This is a medical emergency.
  • Infection: Bacteria can enter through the puncture wound and set up an infection. Signs include pus, abscess, fever, and swelling spreading from the sting site.
  • Toxic reactions: Multiple stings deliver larger doses of venom that can cause toxicity. Stings around the face and head are especially dangerous. Severe swelling in the mouth and throat can block breathing.
  • Sting complications: Stings inside the mouth or throat carry higher complication risks. Swelling here can quickly become life threatening.

Kittens, elderly cats, those with heart/kidney conditions, and cats with bee/wasp venom allergies are most vulnerable to severe reactions and sting complications. But any cat can experience a toxic reaction if stung enough times.

What To Do If Your Cat Gets Stung

Stay calm but act quickly if you spot signs of a bee or wasp sting in your cat. Follow these steps:

1. Get The Stinger Out

If you see a stinger, use tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out. Don’t squeeze or twist the stinger. This forces more venom into the wound.

Grab the stinger fast before the venom sac detaches. But if you don’t see a stinger, don’t go digging around for it. Just proceed to the next steps.

2. Apply An Ice Pack

Ice helps minimize swelling, ease pain, and slow venom absorption. Wrap some ice or a bag of frozen peas in a towel and hold it gently on the sting for 5-10 minutes.

If stung on the paw or leg, elevate the limb while icing. For face/head stings, apply ice to the swelling but avoid the eyes.

3. Clean The Wound

Use soap and water to clean around the sting site after icing. This prevents infection. Trim fur if needed for better access.

Apply antibiotic ointment if you have it. Pain relief creams (lidocaine) can also provide some numbing.

4. Give Antihistamines

Antihistamines like Benadryl counter allergic reactions from venom. Use children’s Benadryl since cat doses are smaller. Follow box or vet instructions.

Pills given ASAP may stop a reaction before it worsens. But only give meds if your cat will swallow them voluntarily. Don’t force oral drugs- this risks aspiration.

5. Monitor Your Cat Closely

Watch for any signs of allergic reaction or other issues over the next 12-24 hours. Problems don’t always show up right away.

If symptoms seem non-stop severe, get worse quickly, or affect breathing, it’s an emergency. Call the vet or head to the animal ER immediately.

6. Call Your Vet

For mild to moderate reactions, call your regular vet for advice. They may recommend additional medications to manage pain, itching, or swelling.

Describe all symptoms in detail. Ask if you should bring your cat in. Vets may want to administer steroids for severe swelling or antihistamines by injection.

Preventing Bee And Wasp Stings In Cats

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to stings. Here are some tips to reduce your cat’s risk:

  • Keep food and water indoors. Outdoor bowls can attract stinging insects.
  • Install screens on windows and doors. Don’t leave them open without screens.
  • Seal openings where insects can get inside. Check around vents, pipes, chimneys, etc.
  • Remove trash frequently. Open cans and compost heaps attract bees/wasps.
  • Avoid perfumed grooming products. Heavy scents attract investigative insects.
  • Destroy nests safely or call pest control. Never disturb hives/nests yourself.
  • Keep cats indoors or leashed when bees/wasps are active. Monitor outdoor playtime.
  • Put insect repellents on your cat such as diethyltoluamide (DEET) to deter investigative insects if spending time outdoors. Consult your veterinarian first.
  • Ask your vet about allergy testing if your cat has repeated reactions. Allergy shots can help desensitize.

With some basic precautions, you can largely protect your cat from bee and wasp stings while still enjoying the warmer months. But if the worst happens, stay vigilant for any signs of stings. Knowing how to respond quickly improves your cat’s prognosis.

Key Takeaways: Responding To Bee And Wasp Stings In Cats

  • Look for sudden distress, swelling, hives, etc at the sting site. Signs appear rapidly.
  • Remove the stinger if present by grasping at the skin and pulling straight out.
  • Apply ice immediately to reduce swelling and slow venom absorption.
  • Clean the sting site with soap and water, apply antibiotic ointment if possible.
  • Give Benadryl or other antihistamines asap to counter allergic reactions per vet or packaging directions.
  • Monitor closely for 12-24 hours for delayed reactions or complications.
  • Contact your vet promptly for advice and possible exam, medications, allergy testing.
  • Prevent stings by excluding insects from food/home, avoiding heavy scents on cats, and monitoring time outdoors.

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