Bee stings can often be handled at home, but here's what you need to know about taking care of your cat and when to see your vet.
Curious cats sometimes get stung by bees, often in the worst places—their faces and paws. If you’ve ever had a bee sting, you know how painful it can be. Most bee stings resolve on their own. But in some cases, bee stings can become an emergency. Learn how to treat a cat bee sting at home and when it’s best to see a veterinarian.
If you know your cat was stung by a bee, see if the stinger is still attached to your cat. You’ll want to remove it because the stinger continues to release venom even after the bee has flown away.
Use the edge of a credit card or your fingernail to scrape across the skin and push the stinger out. Avoid using tweezers. Squeezing the stinger can pump more toxins into your pet.
Note: Wasps and hornets are sometimes mistaken as bees. When these insects sting, they don’t leave their stinger behind.
Oftentimes, you don’t see the incident happen but your cat may start acting funny after being stung by a bee. Move in for a closer look if you see your cat:
- Licking or biting an area of their body
- Pawing at their face
- Crying out
Although it’s possible for a cat to have an allergic reaction to bee venom, it’s rare. “We don’t usually see cats go into anaphylactic shock from being stung by a bee. It’s much more common in people than cats,” Erick Mears, DVM, DACVIM, medical director of BluePearl Pet Hospital in Tampa Bay, Florida, says. “A typical reaction in cats is swelling and irritation at the sting site.”
What’s more likely to happen is swelling that becomes troublesome because of its location. Increased swelling from a sting in the mouth or throat, nose, eyes, or paws can affect your cat’s ability to swallow, see, walk, and even breathe.
“Cats are pretty resistant to having anything put on them like an ice pack, topical medication, or bandage,” Mears says. “But if you see that your cat is uncomfortable or the swelling is causing a problem, ask your vet if you can give your cat over-the-counter diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Typically we recommend a dose of one milligram per pound to reduce inflammation.”
It can be tricky to administer medicine to your cat, since most cats can detect pills hidden in treats.
“You can try a pill pocket, which is a soft treat made for hiding pills that you can pick up at your local pet supply store,”Mears says. “There’s about a 50 percent chance it’ll work. The other option is to use a liquid version of diphenhydramine.”
When giving your cat a liquid medication, try to release it in the back of their mouth. Once your cat tastes it, they’ll start drooling and frothing to get it out of their mouth.
If you can’t get your cat to take medication and the swelling isn’t going away on it’s own, a trip to your vet may be in order. They can administer an injection of steroid medication to help reduce inflammation.
Most of the time, bee stings in cats can be handled at home. However, if your cat has been stung multiple times, seek immediate veterinary care. The more venom, the higher chance your cat may have a serious reaction. Also, it’s important to see your vet if the sting was in your cat’s throat, where it could affect breathing or swallowing.
Otherwise, just keep an eye on your cat. Get veterinary attention right away if you notice new symptoms including:
- Excessive swelling or itching
- Diarrhea and vomiting
Rest assured that it’s rare for bee stings in cats to become life-threatening. But it’s always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian if you notice anything out of the ordinary in your cat. With a little bit of time, the bee sting will go away. But hopefully your kitty will have learned a valuable life lesson: Stay away from bees!