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What is Bee Sting Allergy ?

There are approximately 20,000 species of bees around the world. Bees are very beneficial our food system, as bees are what make it work properly. They help in and encourage the reproduction of plants, and plants would not reproduce without the bees pollinating them. If bees were not around, there are many foods that would cease to exist such as cucumbers, broccoli, pumpkins, apples, and many more, including honey.

Although bees are very helpful to our environment and our food system, they can be considered a hindrance to people and animals, when in fact, they are a positive aspect of our world we live in. This is only because they have a defense mechanism, the stinger, and if they feel threatened, or if they feel their colony is threatened, they will sting. Bee stings can hurt, sometimes quite badly, and if an animal has an allergic reaction to a bee sting, it can be serious.

Wasps and hornets have a painful sting, but do not leave their stinger in the tissue of the cat. Although they do not leave their stinger unattached, they still inject venom the same way as the female honeybee does.  The female bee is the only bee that stings.

Bee, hornet, or wasp stings can cause mild to severe allergic reactions due to the cat’s negative response to the venom. 

Symptoms of Bee Sting Allergy in Cats

If your cat has been stung by a bee, do your best to remove the stinger as soon as possible. Begin soothing the site of the sting by using baking soda and water in a paste. This will help minimize the pain. Symptoms of a bee sting allergy in cats include:

  • Swelling at the site
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Pawing or licking the site
  • Distress
  • Agitation
  • Respiratory distress (serious reaction)
  • Blue tongue (serious reaction)
  • Welts and hives 
  • Swollen face
  • Rapid heart rate (serious reaction if prolonged)
  • Rapid breathing (serious reaction if prolonged)

Types

There are many types of stinging insects which can cause allergic reaction to cats and other animals. Different types of stinging insects include:

  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Yellow Jackets
  • Hornets
  • Ants
  • Flies

Causes of Bee Sting Allergy in Cats

Causes of bee stings begin with cats wanting to “swat” or perhaps “play” with them, or walk very closely to a nest or hive they are protecting. The cause of an allergic reaction to a bee sting is the venom. Causes include:

  • The main allergen in bee venom is melittin
  • Mellitin causes the red blood cells to burst at the site of the sting
  • Mellitin causes blood pressure to drop
  • Other toxic ingredients such as Phospholipase A2, Histamine, and Apamin
  • Cell membranes are attacked at the sting site
  • Histamine in the venom damages capillaries
  • Apamin destroys the nerve tissue

Diagnosis of Bee Sting Allergy in Cats

If your cat has been stung by a bee and is showing signs of an allergic reaction, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Try to remove the stinger at once, as it continues to inject venom into the skin and tissue even when it is not connected to the bee or wasp. An effective way of removing the stinger is to take a card or flat object and scrape the skin rather than using tweezers or pinching it with your fingers. Bee and insect venom can cause a mild reaction to cats or a severe allergic episode. Severe allergic reactions can cause the cat to go into shock. The quicker you can get the stinger out and take him to the emergency veterinarian, the better his prognosis will be. 

When you call your veterinarian, he may give you other instructions on how to very quickly stop the histamines and other chemicals of the venom from being too powerful. He may direct you to give your cat Benedryl (diphenhydramine) and will advise you of the dosage. This will be over the counter, and you should only do this if your veterinarian advises you to do so.

Once you take your cat to the veterinarian, he will begin treatment at once. Upon diagnosing your cat with a bee sting, your veterinarian will also be treating him simultaneously. He will look for the site of the sting and ask questions pertaining to the type of bee that stung him.

Treatment of Bee Sting Allergy in Cats

Your veterinarian will diagnose a bee sting allergy once he sees the site of the sting and the side effects the cat is exhibiting. He will then immediately begin to treat his symptoms, and depending on the severity of those symptoms, treatment can vary from cat to cat. Treatment methods may include:

Care of the Bite Area

Once the stinger is removed, the bite area will need to be soothed. Oatmeal or a baking soda paste works well to soothe the area. These remedies will also help with swelling, as well as an ice pack. For areas that have multiple stings, a cool, wet towel will work.

Medications

Your veterinarian may give your cat medications at once, depending on his symptoms. For severe symptoms, such as swollen tongue, difficulty breathing, or even anaphylactic shock, your medical professional may administer corticosteroid drugs or epinephrine. For mild to moderate reactions, your doctor may give your cat an antihistamine such as Benadryl.

IV Fluids

IV fluids are beneficial to rehydrate the cat and help restore lost electrolytes. They also help with oxygenation of the blood. The medication may be added to the IV fluids as well.

Monitoring

Your veterinarian may want to monitor your cat overnight or for a few nights if his reaction is severe. He will make that determination. He may also repeat the dosages of medications and continue hydrating him throughout his stay. Your cat will continue to be monitored and his vital signs will be routinely checked.

Recovery of Bee Sting Allergy in Cats

Once you take your cat home from the veterinarian, he will give you specific instructions and advice on what to watch for in terms of his recovery. Your cat will need to be closely monitored for a few days. If he begins to exhibit new symptoms or behavioral changes, contact your veterinarian at once.

If you are responsible for giving your cat medication, be sure to follow the instructions on the label or given to your by your medical professional. You will need to carefully time the dosages and be sure to not overdose your furry friend. If you have trouble giving your cat medication, ask your doctor to show you how before you leave the office. Sometimes, giving a cat medication is difficult to do on your own so you may have to have a second pair of hands if needed.

Your veterinarian may send an epinephrine pen, or EpiPen, home with your cat for future stings. It will be important to learn how to properly use the EpiPen, and this can be taught to you by your medical professional. You also explain the types of symptoms you need to witness before giving your cat this type of medication.

Your veterinarian may want to see your cat for a follow-up visit to be sure he has recovered and is back to normal. Be sure to keep all follow-up appointments, and if you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact your doctor.