Cats often fall victim to insect stings, simply because of their natural curiosity and predatory instincts. At this early stage in life, they do not yet appreciate the danger of some insects. There is very little that you can do to prevent this risk, and even keeping a kitten indoors is no guarantee that your pet will be safe, since such insects may be able to fly, and to a young cat present an irresistible target crawling over a window.
A bee moving from plant to plant makes a tempting target for an unsuspecting young cat. Kittens are completely unaware of the fact that they can be badly hurt, or even killed, if they try to catch some insects.
The most likely time for kittens to fall victim to insect stings is often not in the height of summer, but during the spring and autumn, when the insects are likely to be slower and so less able to avoid their grasp.
Young cats refining their hunting skills will not be able to distinguish between those which are harmless, such as leather-jackets or grasshoppers, and those which can inflict a painful sting. Mosquitoes and midges, although their bites may be extremely irritating, do not pose any real threat to their victims.
Bees and wasps are particular hazards, since their buzzing noise acts as a further attraction for a young cat. Having grabbed the insect, the cat may be stung on its lips when it puts its face down towards its victim.
Worse still can happen if your cat tries to swallow the creature while it is still alive. A sting in the mouth, particularly on the tongue, can be very dangerous because the affected area will swell up and can lead to your pet choking. This is a situation which will require emergency veterinary treatment.
HOW TO TREAT INSECT STINGS TO CATS
It will help to know whether a bee or wasp was responsible. Bees die after inflicting a sting, so look out for a dead bee in the area. There will be a chance of lessening the effects of a bee sting if you can locate the tiny, dark dart of poison left behind and remove it carefully using a pair of tweezers.
- Bear in mind that you cat will be distressed and probably in pain, so try to avoid being hurt yourself. If possible, try to smear the area of inflammation with anti-histamine cream first.
- Thankfully, once a cat has been stung, it will generally leave insects alone in the future.
- Many wild cats actually prey on insects such as grasshoppers and so their domestic relatives are drawn to them.
- Wasp stings are alkaline which means that to neutralise them you should bathe them with a solution of (acid) vinegar diluted with water.
- Bees have an acidic sting so a solution of bicarbonate of soda rather than vinegar will be needed to treat the affected area.
How can I tell my cat has been stung by an insect?
Your pet will appear distressed and be in obvious pain. It may cry out and dribble if the sting is in the mouth. With a body sting, your cat will lick the affected area repeatedly.
Can cats be allergic to insect stings?
Just like people, some cats can be allergic to stings. This will cause your pet to collapse, suffering from what is known as anaphylactic shock. If this happens, it is vital you take your cat immediately to the nearest vet for emergency treatment to save its life.
Can anything be done to prevent this problem?
If your cat is known to be at risk, your vet will prescribe anti-histamine pills. Keep these in a safe place at home and give them immediately if your cat is stung again.