Bee and wasp stings in cats

Bee and wasp stings in cats are fairly common in the warmer months, from spring to autumn. Cats are most often stung on the paw or face. Luckily, the majority of stings only cause mild swelling and irritation. Cats are good at hiding signs of illness, some may not show any obvious symptoms after a sting. Bee and wasp stings are also known as hymenoptera stings.

Serious reactions are rare but they can be life-threatening. Signs of a serious reaction include vomiting, excessive swelling, and breathing difficulties; these need emergency treatment.


What is a bee or wasp sting in cats?

When a bee or wasp stings an animal, they inject their venom into the skin. This venom is the cause of the symptoms that develop.

  • Most stings only cause mild reactions, like swelling of the skin and local irritation. These can often be treated at home.
  • The symptoms of a sting should clear within 24–48 hours.
  • Rarely, cats can develop an anaphylactic reaction. This can be more common with a sting in the mouth or multiple stings. Anaphylactic reactions usually happen within 30–60 minutes but can also occur hours after the sting. These need emergency treatment.
  • If your cat accidentally swallows a bee or wasp, don’t panic. The stomach acids help protect them. Mild vomiting and diarrhoea might develop.
  • Bees leave their stings in the skin, wasps don’t.


Bee and wasp stings can lead to local irritation and swelling, which can usually be treated at home. Rarely, severe reactions can occur. Our Joii vets are available 24 hours a day; call us now if you have any concerns.


Symptoms of bee and wasp stings in cats

The most common signs of bee and wasp stings are:

  • Swelling of the affected area
  • Irritation: biting, licking or rubbing the affected area
  • Yowling or vocalising
  • Limping: if they are stung on the leg
  • Hives
  • Drooling

Signs of an anaphylactic reaction include vomiting, breathing difficulties, excessive drooling, collapse and seizures. Reactions like this will need emergency treatment.



Are some cats more at risk of bee and wasp stings than others?

Bee and wasp stings can affect any cat, regardless of age, breed, or lifestyle. Kittens are naturally very curious so they can be more prone to stings. Outdoor cats tend to be more commonly affected than indoor-only cats.



How are bee and wasp stings diagnosed in cats?

Typically, veterinarians diagnose bee and wasp stings based on the signs exhibited by your cat. Further tests are usually unnecessary unless your cat’s symptoms persist for a few days without improvement or suddenly worsen.


Vet treatment

What’s the vet treatment for bee and wasp stings in cats?

Mild reactions that are causing excessive irritation may need the following:

  • Anti-histamines
  • Anti-inflammatory medication, such as steroids

Anaphylactic reactions are serious and life-threatening. Treatment involves:

  • Fluids via a drip
  • Placing a tube to help with breathing
  • Emergency medications to stabilise and treat abnormalities in blood pressure, breathing and other vital functions
  • Hospitalisation and monitoring for a minimum of 2–3 days


Home treatment

How to look after a cat with a bee or wasp sting at home

If your cat has been stung by a bee or wasp, try to remain calm and follow these steps:

  • If possible, remove any stings (bee) by scraping with a straight-edged object; avoid squeezing
  • For bee stings: apply baking soda mixed with water to the affected area
  • For wasp stings: apply vinegar to the affected area
  • Use a cold compress for 10–15 minutes to reduce swelling
  • Allow your cat to rest and monitor for any other symptoms for the next 24 hours



Tips on how to prevent bee or wasp stings in cats

It’s not always possible to prevent stings in cats. Try to remove any wasps or bees that enter the home and monitor your car when they are in the garden during the higher-risk months.


When to worry

When to worry about bee and wasp stings in cats

Seek help from a vet immediately if your cat:

  • Is collapsed or having seizures
  • Is extremely irritated by a sting
  • Has been stung in the mouth, or stung multiple times
  • Has excessive drooling or swelling around the face after a sting

Call us and speak to one of our Joii vets if your cat:

  • Has been stung and you would like advice
  • Has vomiting and diarrhoea after a sting
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