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First Aid for Insect Stings in Cats

First Aid for Insect Stings in Cats

Cats are nosy creatures, sniffing at anything of interest. Insect stings can spell trouble for your feline friend. Find how what you can do to help!


The old adage, “curiosity killed the cat”, actually has an element of truth. Cats are nosy creatures, sniffing at anything of interest. Since felines find insects interesting, they sniff at them, and if they stick their nose where it doesn’t belong, they may get a quick reprimand that could be fatal.

Insects resent the intrusion of nosy cats, so they sting the closest body part, making eyes, ears, and feet easy targets. When a cat steps on an ant hill or disturbs a wasp nest or bee hive, the insects can swarm and sting the cat’s whole body! Spiders are loners that don’t swarm, but even one spider bite can be nasty.

The stings of bees, wasps, and hornets, and the bites of ants and spiders all spell trouble for kitties. Insect venom causes problems ranging from mild irritation to life-threatening shock. Observant pet owners can minimize the reaction by taking prompt action. Keep in mind that although first aid is started at home, severe cases require prompt medical care. 

Here’s what you can do when your cat battles a bug: 

  1. Be quick to recognize that your cat was bitten or stung. If your kitty suddenly paws at his face, chews at his foot, or begins to swell in any area of the body, consider the possibility of an insect bite.
  2. Identify the insect. Quickly search the area for flying insects as well as crawling ones. Since a spider is difficult to identify and may be poisonous, capture it if you can.
  3. In the case of bee stings, look for a stinger. Bees are the only insects that leave their stingers in their victims. These abandoned stingers continue to secrete venom so removing them reduces the amount of toxin injected into the cat’s body. If the stinger is still attached to the cat, remove it by scraping a credit card over your cat’s coat and flick it off. Do not use tweezers that may squeeze more venom out of the stinger sac. Luckily, other flying insects (wasps, hornets) don’t leave a stinger behind.
  4. Soothe the bite site. Make a thick paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the sting site. If your cat has multiple stings or bites, a soothing oatmeal bath is the way to go.
  5. Minimize swelling. Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 10 minutes to reduce swelling. A bag of frozen peas serves as a handy ice pack for individual bites. A cooled towel works better for larger areas.
  6. Prevent allergic reactions. Give a dose of oral anti-histamine (like diphenhydramine) to minimize the reaction and decrease itching. Consult your veterinarian first for proper dosing.
  7. Reduce the trauma of scratching. Use a head cone if your cat continues to lick or scratch at the bite wound. Constant scratching will delay healing and may cause infection.
  8. Maintain hydration and food intake. Give your cat fresh water to drink. Cats that are stung in the mouth may find it difficult to eat so feed them moist food. Dry food softened with water is less likely to upset the GI tract than canned food. 

See more information about first aid for insect stings in cats and what to do here »

Contact us if you suspect your feline companion is having trouble from a sting or insect bite »

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