The Buzz About Stings

Enjoying the Outdoors

I currently have three cats. Two of them, Jelly Belly and Skylar, like to occasionally go outside and lie around in the sun. They’re both altered males and both are getting on in years. Jelly is 12 and Skylar is 11, so neither of them wander out of the yard. Because of this, I let them go out to sit in the yard or on the back deck to soak up the sun. I don’t, however, let them stay outside if I’m not at home and I always bring them in before dark. My third cat is little 8 month old Sophia, a female hairless Sphynx. She cost more than a pretty penny, so she doesn’t go out unless I have her on a harness and leash.

OnSkylar e sunny spring day, Skylar wanted to go outside. I went out with him and while I was watering my garden, he rolled around in the grass, nibbling at the blades and purring his head off. He was sleeping in the grass when I went back inside, but after only a short time, he was at the glass patio doors wanting to come back in. That wasn’t like him. If I’d let him, he’d stay out all day.

Return from the Wilderness

When I opened the door, I could tell something was wrong. Skylar didn’t look right. I couldn’t place my finger on the problem, but when he looked up at me, there was something about his face that was strange. He went right into the kitchen to his water bowl, but didn’t drink. It sure looked like he wanted to drink, but he just sat down beside the bowl. Now I knew something was wrong.

Like any good mother, I picked him up and gave him a quick once-over. Thankfully, there were no cuts or scratches. But I knew that he wasn’t feeling well, so I cradled him and this time, when I looked at his face, I saw swelling around his mouth. Luckily, Skylar is always very accommodating when I need to do anything. He lets me give him pills or check his teeth, so it wasn’t too hard to get a look at his mouth. It was sore, because he did fuss a bit and he didn’t want me poking around at the swelling, so I was very careful. Not only did I not want to hurt him, but I didn’t exactly want to get bitten or scratched.


From the position of the swelling, the outer gum near his back teeth, I quickly realized that Skylar had likely been stung by a bee or wasp. He’d always liked chasing flies, grasshoppers or anything else that moved quickly. I guess I’d figured that he would have known better than to catch a stinging insect and try to eat it. I was wrong. Goes to show that we should never assume we know what our pets are thinking.

Once I’d figured that an insect sting was involved, I knew what to look for because one of my daughters is allergic to bee stings. Insect sting allergies can manifest with extreme swelling of the sting site, of the tongue or throat. If this happens, breathing can be a problem and immediate attention is needed. This happens very quickly, so since Skylar wasn’t having any trouble breathing and the swelling wasn’t really severe, I figured that he didn’t have an allergy. But, if the stinger was still in his mouth, it would continue to pump poison into him.

Unfortunately, the sting site was sensitive, so I couldn’t get a very good look. From what I could see, it didn’t look like the stinger was in there. Skylar had probably managed to scrape it out with his paw. There are several things you can do to ease a pet’s pain, such as applying an ice pack, if they’ll let you, or placing a baking soda poultice on the sting site. But if, like Skylar’s sting, it’s in the mouth, there might be little you actually can do. If it doesn’t seem to bother your pet, a trip to the vet probably isn’t necessary, but if your pet is suffering or if you think the stinger might still be embedded, go to the vet.

If you can see the stinger, use a credit card or some other hard object to gently scrape the stinger out of the skin

The sooner you get it out, the better. I think most people know that bees only sting once and then die because when the stinger comes out, it kills the bee quickly. Wasps, hornets, yellow jackets are all multiple stingers, so if your pet gets involved with any of these, it might get stung several times.

Happy Ending

As pet owners, I think we’re attuned to the behavior of our pets so that when something is amiss, we notice it right away. With Skylar, he was a bit uncomfortable for an hour or so, but after that, he started to eat and drink again. Because I didn’t want him to go out and do the same thing, I kept him inside for a few days.

When he did go out again, I watched him to see what he would do, and wouldn’t you know it, he went and started chasing bees! I guess he didn’t learn his lesson after all.

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