Protecting your cat from wasps and bees
Bees and wasps always seem to find their way into the house, fly about the garden or follow you while you’re out and about during the warmer months (April – October). While they can be annoying (if not a bit off putting) for us, the buzzing of these insects can intrigue our feline friends, making them an irresistible target for them to chase. BUT if they’re not careful, it can end rather painfully for our cats.
So we’re here to help you safeguard your pet from these pollinators and their stings, understand the symptoms to look out for if they were to be hurt, the dangers of being stung and how to treat your cat if they’ve been stung.
Are wasps more dangerous than bees?
As bees are typically bigger, they’re more obvious for our cats to spot and chase. Thankfully, bees tend to be less aggressive than wasps but keep in mind that a bee sting can be more poisonous for your cat as their stingers are barbed and can become lodged in the skin, detaching from the bee’s body as it goes to fly away. You should try to dislodge the stinger from your cat’s skin as the sac could still be injecting venom into their body.
Whilst a wasp sting is not barbed, they have the ability to sting multiple times and can end up being much more painful for your kitty to experience. Wasps are also more aggressive than bees and don’t often need a reason to sting you or your pet, so ensure your cat stays well away from these angry insects (which we know is a challenge!).
What happens to my cat when they get stung?
Wasp and bee stings are much more common for our feline friends to experience in the hotter months. Most stings often end up as a sharp pain to their skin, paws or mouth with your cat displaying symptoms of irritation that should subside in time (just like if we were to get stung!).
However, some cases could end up becoming a lot more serious. An insect sting could trigger an allergic reaction in your cat meaning they would need immediate veterinary attention.
Spotting the signs of a wasp or bee sting
Cats have an in-built instinct to hunt fast-moving objects. So, when they see something buzzing about in the air it is only natural that they should want to chase it and put those kitty hunting skills to the test!
If your cat is showing any of the below symptoms, they may have been stung:
- Restlessness, meowing or vocalising more than usual
- Swelling or redness in the specific area (this may be harder to see in long-haired cats)
- Nibbling or scratching where they have been stung
- Pawing at the place they’ve been stung
- You may be able to see the sting still embedded in their skin
Closely monitor their symptoms to ensure their condition does not become more serious. Here are some signs of an allergic reaction to look out for in your cat:
- Breathing difficulties
- Showing signs of weakness or collapsing
- Severe swelling around the mouth or throat
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
If your cat shows any of the above symptoms, ring your local vet immediately. They will be able to provide the appropriate care for your cat and even prescribe treatments such as painkillers or oxygen support (for any breathing difficulties).
Anxiety in cats is not an uncommon symptom either. The constant irritation and itchiness from an insect sting may cause them to experience breathing difficulties. If you are worried about the lack of oxygen your cat is getting after they have been stung, speak to your local vet.
How to treat a wasp or bee sting
Luckily, most stings can be managed at home due to the mild symptoms that are usually experienced. If your pet displays no signs of an allergic reaction, then read our advice below to help treat your cat, but always contact your local vet if urgent treatment is required.
Treating bee stings
Bees tend to leave their sting behind as it continues to inject poisonous venom into your cat’s body. You can usually tell if a bee has stung your pet because when you investigate the wounded area, you can find the sting. Once you’ve found the sting, it’s important that you take it out. If you feel comfortable, use a small thin object with a hard, flat surface, such as tweezers, to remove the stinger. Do not squeeze it or use your fingers to pinch it out as this could cause more pain and more of a reaction. Cats are mostly independent animals and for that reason, they may find it hard to keep still whilst you try to treat them. If they won’t keep still, stop what you are doing and phone your local vet for advice.
Bees are acidic, so mix bicarbonate of soda with water and apply this to the injured area if you can, as this may help to ease the irritation in your pet’s skin.
Treating wasp stings
Although a wasp can sting multiple times, their sting tends to be easier to treat as they leave no stinger behind for you to scrape out of your cat’s skin or paws. However, before you start treatment on your cat, ensure that you have moved to a place where the wasp cannot get within reach.
Wasps are alkaline, so to treat the sting you will need a mild acidic solution to neutralise the venom and remove the pain. Apply some vinegar to the area that has been stung and this should ease the stinging sensation.
How to stop your cat from chasing wasps and bees
If you are worried about your pet being stung in the future, don’t worry… when your cat gets stung once they learn their lesson quickly and tend not to go after any buzzing insects in the future. But if your cat is intent on getting those little paws out to hunt and chase again, here are just two actions that you can take to help prevent another stinging fiasco.
- Try and distract them by playing a game or getting out their favourite toy
- Keep them indoors when it’s really hot and you know wasps and bees will be out during that time of day.
Your cat and these colourful, flying insects share the same outdoor space in the hotter months so it’s hard for your feline friend to avoid them all the time.
From treating skin irritation to remove stingers… remember to always stay calm. Cats are timid but clever creatures and can sense their owner’s mood. Staying calm will help to keep your cat calm, especially if they are in pain.