Login Sign in
Login Sign in

Join thousands of pet parents and get vet-approved guidance, product reviews, exclusive deals, and more!

Cat Stung By a Bee: What to Do

Skip To

If you’ve ever been stung by a bee, you know how uncomfortable and itchy it can be. Unfortunately, a cat stung by a bee feels the same discomfort.

Bee stings in cats are common – and annoying – but they’re rarely severe or life-threatening. The quicker you recognize when your cat has a bee sting, the quicker you can treat the sting and help your cat feel more comfortable again.

Cat Bee Sting: Overview

Bee stings on cats appear as red swellings on the skin, typically on the face near the nose and the front paws. Single bee stings are most common, but multiple bee stings can occur. Multiple bee stings require immediate veterinary care because of how much venom can enter your cat’s body.

Cats are most likely to get stung in early spring and late autumn when bees aren’t flying around very quickly and can be easily swatted at or caught by our pouncing purrers.

Among bee types, female honey bees are the most likely to sting your cat. There isn’t a specific geographic region where cat bee stings are more common, so it’s important to stay on alert for bee stings wherever you live.

Cat Stung by a Bee: Symptoms to Watch Out For

Bee sting symptoms in cats are usually mild and localized to the sting site. The sting itself may be hard to find if your cat has long hair, but you can use the symptoms listed below to help you recognize when your cat has been stung by a bee.

If your cat got stung by a bee, they may also act differently, so watch for behavioral changes as well. 

Cats stung by bees commonly experience these symptoms:

  • Redness 
  • Mild, puffy swelling
  • Sudden crying out
  • Limping (if the sting is on the paw)
  • Becoming quiet and withdrawn
  • Excessive licking or pawing at the sting 

In rare cases, cats can suffer a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) after being stung by a bee. Anaphylactic shock sets in within 15 minutes after a bee sting. It is life-threatening and requires immediate, emergency veterinary treatment. 

The signs of anaphylactic shock in cats are as follows:

  • Hives
  • Collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Disorientation
  • Stumbling
  • Cold limbs
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Drooling
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Weak pulse
  • Behavioral changes (depression, over-excitement)

Bee stings near the throat can cause difficulty breathing and swallowing, requiring immediate veterinary care. 

Cats Stung by Bees: Causes

Cats are curious creatures with strong hunting instincts, so they love to hunt, chase, and swat at bees. Unfortunately, bees see these behaviors as threatening. Bees will go into self-defense mode and sting a cat to protect themselves.

Young cats are especially prone to bee stings because they are extremely curious but aren’t experienced or old enough to know that bees can be dangerous.

Diagnosing a Bee Sting on a Cat

Actually seeing a bee stinging your cat is the easiest way to diagnose a sting, but that’s not always possible. Even without seeing the sting in real-time, pet parents can usually diagnose a bee sting on their cat at home by observing the symptoms described above. 

A veterinary visit is usually not necessary to diagnose a bee sting. However, it is always good to contact your veterinarian if you are unsure whether a bee or some other type of insect, such as a wasp, stung your cat.

Cat Bee Sting Treatment

Mild cat bee stings can be treated at home. Seek immediate, emergency veterinary care if your cat has signs of anaphylactic shock.

When a bee stings your cat, its stinger embeds in the skin, pumping venom for several minutes. Act quickly to remove the stinger and treat your cat. Follow these treatment steps:

  1. Stay calm
  2. Locate the bee’s stinger. Remember that the face and front paws are the most common areas for bee stings on cats
  3. Remove the stinger by scraping the skin with the edge of a credit card. Do not squeeze the stinger with tweezers or your fingers. Doing so will release more of the bee’s venom in your cat’s body 
  4. Rinse the sting area with cool water
  5. Apply a cool, damp washcloth or cold compress to the sting site for 5 to 10 minutes to help reduce swelling
  6. Keep your cat as calm as possible, doing your best to stop them from touching the sting
  7. Monitor your cat for signs of anaphylactic shock 
  8. Contact your veterinarian

If your cat’s bee sting was mild, your veterinarian might advise monitoring symptoms at home. They may also recommend giving your cat an antihistamine to reduce swelling and other symptoms.

Veterinary care for anaphylactic shock requires hospitalization and intense treatment with intravenous fluids, steroids, and Benadryl. Your cat will remain hospitalized for at least one to two days until they are stable enough to return home.

Medications Used to Treat Cats With a Bee Sting

Benadryl is the most used antihistamine drug to relieve the discomfort of bee stings. Its active ingredient, diphenhydramine, blocks the release of histamine, which the body’s immune system releases in response to the stinger’s venom. Benadryl is given orally, in pill or liquid form, for at-home care.

Do not, under any circumstances, give your cat Benadryl without speaking to your veterinarian first. Over-the-counter Benadryl may contain other ingredients, such as pain medication, that are fatally toxic to cats. Make sure that the Benadryl you give your cat contains only diphenhydramine.

Your veterinarian will use your cat’s weight to calculate the correct Benadryl dosage for your cat. They will then instruct you on how to administer it.

If you are using the pill form, you can try hiding the pill of Benadryl in a pill pocket. If your cat hates taking pills, use a syringe to squirt the liquid dose of Benadryl into the back of your cat’s mouth so they can’t spit it back out.

Cat Bee Sting Recovery Time

For most cat bee stings, the swelling lasts only a few hours. With prompt first aid at home, your cat will recover quickly. Cats hospitalized with anaphylactic shock will have a longer recovery because of the seriousness of their allergic reaction. 

If your cat was hospitalized, your veterinarian will give you at-home care instructions for monitoring your cat and administering medication. Your veterinarian may prescribe an EpiPen and instruct you on how to use it if your cat gets stung by a bee again.

General Cost of Treatment for Cat Bee Stings

Mild bee stings that need only at-home care have minimal costs – just the cost of Benadryl if you do not already have it at home.

Hospitalization for bee stings will cost hundreds of dollars, including a physical exam, treatment, and an overnight stay in the hospital.

How to Prevent Cat Bee Stings

Because cats are so curious, preventing bee stings may be challenging. However, there are a few strategies to reduce your cat’s chances of getting stung by a bee:

  • Hire a pest control service to remove bee hives and nests from your yard
  • Plant flowers, such as zinnias, that are less likely to attract bees
  • Isolate your cat in another room if a bee gets inside your home. Do your best to remove the bee

Related Conditions

  • Wasp stings
  • Hornet stings