I still remember the day when my sister's dog ate a bee.
Her teeny Italian Greyhound face swelled up. While it wasn't dangerous for her, it was definitely pitiful and uncomfortable. Which got me thinking: Can cats also fall victim to the allure of buzzy bees as playthings? And if they do get stung by a bee or wasp, how can you tell – and what can you do to help them?
Let's get into it.
Can cats get stung by bees or wasps?
Yep. While it seems to happen more often with dogs (they do tend to spend more time outdoors) cats often chase buzzing insects. This can lead to stings, usually on the paws or face.
What happens if a cat gets stung by a bee?
A sting injects venom. Most cats experience mild reactions like pain, swelling and redness. But more severe responses can occur, ranging from mild allergic reactions to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
How to tell if your cat was stung
The symptoms of a bee or wasp sting for a cat might look like:
Swelling or redness at the sting site
Pawing at the face or bitten area
Drooling, whining, or other signs of distress
In case of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), difficulty breathing, neck/face swelling, or collapse
So what can you do if your cat's stung?
What can you do if your cat's stung by bee or wasp
First things first: Whether you think your cat's been stung or you saw it happen, call your vet. They can advise you on the best next steps because conditions could escalate quickly.
If you saw your cat get stung and you aren't close to a vet—or need to take immediate action—here are some steps you can take (use caution!):
Remove the stinger: If visible, gently scrape it out with a credit card or fingernail. Avoid tweezers, which can squeeze more venom into the wound.
Clean the area. Rinse with water. A cold compress can reduce swelling.
Monitor your cat. Watch for any signs of an allergic reaction. Swelling around the nose or throat could result in difficulty breathing. Your vet might recommend a small dose of Benadryl or another antihistamine.
Remember, there are limitations to how you can treat your pet at home. Every medication should only be administered under veterinary guidance.
Dosages for cats can be significantly different from those for humans, and some over-the-counter medications can be toxic to them.
When to see a vet for your cat's insect sting
Again, you should call your vet if ANYTHING seems out of the ordinary for your cat. However, immediate veterinary care is especially vital if:
Your cat has difficulty breathing
Swelling occurs around the face or neck
Signs of severe pain or distress are evident
There’s a history of allergic reactions to stings
Preventing insect stings: Better safe than swollen
To minimize the risk of insect stings for your pets, start by insect-proofing your home.
Installing screens on windows and doors is an effective way to keep flying insects like bees and wasps outside. This simple step can significantly reduce the likelihood of your cats encountering these stinging insects indoors.
In addition, manage your outdoor space to make it less inviting to insects. Regularly dispose of garbage and limit the presence of flowering plants, as both can attract bees and wasps.
If your cat's allowed outside, especially in areas with high insect activity, keep a watchful eye on them. Supervised outdoor time helps you quickly respond if they encounter stinging insects.
The Bottom Line
Bee and wasp stings can range from a minor annoyance to a serious health issue for cats. By recognizing symptoms, administering prompt first aid, and practicing prevention, you can ensure your feline friend stays safe and healthy.
Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian.