When the dog bites, when the bee stings...

July 14, 2011


Cats are curious by nature and sometimes a flying creature is just too hard to resist hunting. A bee can only sting once and will lose its stinger. Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets keep their stingers and can inflict multiple stings. Only females have stingers (called an ovipositor, an egg-laying tube).

If your cat is stung, the most common result is a minor local reaction that will resolve in a few hours. If you see the stinger (which is usually too difficult due to a cat's fur), gently scrape it out with a credit card or the back of your nail. You can apply a cool compress or ice to the area to alleviate the swelling. Monitor your cat for a few hours to ensure that the reaction is not more serious.

Some cats will have a larger local allergic reaction around the site of the sting. You might notice hives and swelling, usually a swollen paw or face, which can last for several days. This kind of reaction requires treatment with antihistamines and possibly steroids if the swelling is severe.

Rarely, an anaphylactic reaction will occur within 10–15 minutes. If you notice difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, or muscle weakness, this reaction needs immediate treatment by your veterinarian.

If you see your cat gets stung by a bee, you should watch her for a few hours to ensure she does not need further treatment. If you have any concerns, please contact us.