Given that many cats spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s only inevitable that they are going to run afoul of local wildlife, hopefully, nothing too big!
But it’s very common for cats to run across bees, wasps, and other stinging insects and they probably won’t come out of the encounter very happy.
Younger cats in the spring or fall or most likely to get stung as they don’t have the experience to avoid it and wasps are dozier and more likely to get caught and thus fight back. If your cat was stung by a wasp, what should you be looking for and doing next?
Most cats who get stung by a wasp will be annoyed and, in some pain, but will ultimately be fine – and will probably not learn its lesson and get stung again later!
But some cats have allergic reactions to wasp venom that can be life-threatening, so it’s important to monitor your cat and take it to the vet if it is struggling to breathe or has weird swellings.
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How To Tell if a Cat Got Stung
Cats are the masters at hiding when they are in pain or ill, but there are some symptoms to watch out for.
When a cat first gets stung, it will probably yowl in pain, jump around, or start pawing at itself. Some cats also run and hide, becoming more withdrawn.
Common areas for a cat to get stung are the mouth, nose, and belly, so check there. Other symptoms of a wasp sting include:
- Sudden nibbling or licking a body part when they just came inside
- Swelling, redness, itching, and localized irritation, commonly on the paws, face, and nose. (This will be harder to spot in long hair cats)
- Pawing at the face
- Breathing or swallowing difficulties
- Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, trouble breathing, pale gums, collapse. These are usually seen when a cat has an allergic reaction to a wasp sting
Most cats will be fine a short time later, but it is important to monitor your cat for about an hour after a sting as that’s the window for an allergic reaction. The discomfort can last several hours from a sting that didn’t cause an allergic reaction.
Are Wasp Stings Fatal to Cats?
In most cases, wasp stings are not life-threatening or fatal to cats, but they are annoying. If a cat has an allergic reaction or has suffered several stings though, there can be more serious symptoms, including difficulty breathing and difficulty eating.
Stings can cause a narrowing of the airways which means a trip to the vet as soon as possible. Cats may also limp for a couple of days because stings on their paws, but this usually resolves.
The more often cats are stung, the more likely it is that they will develop an allergy to the venom. This is caused by the cat becoming more sensitive to the stinging and overreaction of the cat’s immune system to the venom. Without proper vet care, a reaction like this can be fatal.
How to Help Your Cat Get Through a Wasp Sting
Wasp stings are definitely not comfortable for cats and while they won’t necessarily want any sort of medical attention, they might need some help managing and recovering faster. There are a few things you can do to help your cat recover from a mild wasp sting:
- Reduce the swelling with a cold, damp cloth or ice cubes wrapped in a towel. Your cat may not be thrilled about it, but a cold compress can really help make your pet more comfortable.
- Keep your cat from biting or scratching the sting. It may be your cat’s instinct to bite or scratch at the spot, that that will slow down healing. Use a head cone or cat boots to keep them off their injuries.
- Make sure your cat keeps hydrated and fed. If your cat was stung in the mouse or nose it may be difficult to eat, but make sure your cat at least has access to food and water. Soft food is best here as it will be easier to manage.
- Soothe the wound with water and baking soda or an oatmeal bath. Camomile lotion or a small bit of toothpaste can work too. These things work because they cancel out the acidic nature of the venom.
- Antihistamines such as Benadryl can be helpful but talk to your vet about the appropriate dosage and what ingredients to avoid.
Is There Any Way to Prevent My Cat Getting Stung by a Wasp?
Unlike children, who you can teach to leave wasps and bees alone, cats are pretty hard students to work with. Getting stung can deter your cat for a while, but depending on the cat, they may just go back to trying to play and catch them later and get stung all over again!
The best way to help prevent stings is to make sure you don’t have wasps or beehives on your property and keep your cat away from common sites for bees and wasps such as flowers and garbage areas.
Supervising your cat while it is outside is also one of the best things to do, but it isn’t always practical. In all honesty, most cats who spend time outdoors are probably going to get stung at least once, so it is something that you, as the cat owner, will have to look out for.
Fortunately, most cats won’t have any worse of a reaction to wasps stings than some swelling and pain, both of which resolves in a matter of hours or a few days.
If you have concerns, it’s important to talk to your vet, especially if there is swelling in the mouth, throat, or nose that could cause problems with breathing and eating. But most cats will be perfectly fine, are unlikely to have learned much from it over the long run, and will simply be annoyed over your fussing and using cold packs on it!
Has your cat ever been stung by a wasp? What did you have to do to treat it?
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.