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My Cat Ate a Wasp: Is It Dangerous? Vet Reviewed Signs & Treatments

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on February 23, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Yellow jacket wasp standing on hive

My Cat Ate a Wasp: Is It Dangerous? Vet Reviewed Signs & Treatments

If you’ve ever been stung by a wasp, it’s definitely an experience that you don’t want to repeat! Even seeing a wasp may bring about some fear and apprehension, especially if you see your cat eating one. The good news is that eating a wasp isn’t necessarily dangerous to your cat, but being stung by one can be. Depending on where that sting is, it may merit a visit to your vet. Let’s discuss the details of what happens when a cat eats a wasp and when a wasp stings a cat, as well as the signs that you should look out for if it turns into an emergency situation.

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Is It Dangerous for a Cat to Swallow a Wasp?

Beyond the sting issue, if the wasp was already dead or they managed to chew it up without getting stung, it’s often safe for a cat to swallow a wasp.

Wasps do carry venom, which is injected when they sting, but this venom only works when it hits the bloodstream, so swallowing a wasp won’t typically hurt a cat. It will just pass through the digestive system with maybe a little irritation, but usually no major issues.

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Steps to Take When Your Cat Eats a Wasp

1. Check Your Cat

You should check your cat’s mouth and body for any possible stings, as it’s uncommon for a cat to swallow a live wasp without getting stung. When a cat is stung, the signs will become apparent quickly.

A person touching a cat-biubiubiu23333
Image Credit: A person touching a cat by biubiubiu23333, Pixabay

2. Call Your Vet

Your vet might not tell you to bring in your cat, particularly if there’s no sign of a sting and your cat isn’t exhibiting any worrying signs. They will likely advise you on the steps that you should take to make your cat comfortable.

If your cat is showing discomfort, like swelling or difficulty breathing, take them to the clinic immediately.

3. Apply Cold Compress

Putting a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a towel on the sting will reduce swelling and alleviate some of the pain. You can do this on the way to the veterinarian or if they tell you to use the treatment at home.

4. Give Them Prescribed Medication

Don’t give your cat any medication unless prescribed or advised by your vet. Many over-the-counter medications can be toxic to cats, so unless your vet gives you the go-ahead, don’t attempt to give your cat anything. Antihistamines are commonly recommended if your cat starts showing signs of an allergic reaction.

cat having medication
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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What Are the Signs That Your Cat Was Stung by a Wasp?

Wasp stings in cats can show up with a wide spectrum of reactions, anything from mild to very serious, like anaphylactic shock. Beyond the potential anaphylactic reaction, some cats will have a less severe response. Still, it’s important to keep an eye on your cat. You should be able to determine rather quickly if they were stung, as they may show:

  • Excessive vocalization
  • Focusing on an area by licking, pawing, and nibbling it
  • Redness and swelling at the site
  • Reluctance to play or move

Wasps are capable of stinging multiple times, which can trigger an allergic reaction that might lead to lethargy and fever. So, if your cat starts wheezing and struggling to breathe, seek immediate veterinary help!

Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylaxis is rare in cats, but there’s always the possibility, which is why it’s essential to recognize the signs:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Incoordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Facial swelling
  • Itchy skin around the face
  • Pale gums
  • Cold limbs
  • Seizure
  • Coma

The moment that you suspect that your cat might be having a reaction to eating a wasp, take them immediately to your vet or the closest emergency clinic. It can be fatal if left untreated.

Not all cats will have a severe reaction like this, but cats that already suffer from allergies are more likely to suffer from anaphylactic shock.

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How Can You Prevent Your Cat From Eating Wasps?

It’s not easy to prevent your cat from chasing down and eating wasps. Cats are born hunters and can pounce on and eat a bug before you have time to react. But there are a few steps that you can take to mitigate the behavior.

Keep Your Cat Inside

If your cat is an outdoor cat, limit their time outside, particularly during the late summer and early fall months when wasps are out in full force.

Keeping your cat inside also helps protect them from other dangers, such as predators and cars. If you keep them under supervision and in an enclosed area like a catio, they can enjoy outdoor time safely.

tabby cat leans its paws on the window
Image Credit: Magui RF, Shutterstock

Keep Garbage Cans Sealed

Wasps are quite drawn to garbage, so ensure that you tightly cover your garbage cans. This will help reduce the number of wasps around your home.

Cover and Put Away Food and Drinks Promptly

Put away or cover any food and drinks. Wasps love sugary things, so keep everything hidden so wasps can’t get to it. This includes wiping up any spills right away, and you shouldn’t leave any food or beverages outside either.

Install Window Screens

If you don’t have window or door screens already, you should invest in them, as they can help prevent wasps from entering your home. If you already have screens, check for any holes or gaps—wasps are good at finding tiny spaces to squeeze through.

net wire screen on house window
Image Credit: Kwangmoozaa, Shutterstock

Use Plant Wasp Repellents in Your Garden

There are several plants that you can plant in your garden or around your home that are natural wasp repellents:

  • Fennel: The entire fennel plant repels pests and is also safe for dogs and cats.
  • Lemongrass: Citrus, in general, tends to be an effective insect repellent, and lemongrass is no different. It’s actually what citronella is derived from. It’s only toxic to pets if they ingest large amounts.
  • Mint: Spearmint and peppermint are the most effective mints for repelling wasps, but they can be toxic to cats and dogs in large amounts. If you want to use mint, you should ensure that it is out of reach.
  • Rosemary: This herb can do well in gardens or pots in your kitchen and is safe for pets.
  • Sage: This herb is hardy and perennial and quite safe for pets.
  • Thyme: This herb is safe for pets and repels not only wasps but also insects like slugs, tomato hornworms, and corn earworms.

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If your cat ate a wasp, check their mouth and face straight away for signs of a sting. It’s unlikely that a cat can eat an insect like a wasp without getting stung unless it is already dead. Call your vet even if your cat seems okay so they can determine if they should see your cat and what you can do for them in the meantime.

If you see your cat chasing a wasp, do something to distract them (like shake a treat bag), and when your cat is safely away from it, you do what you can to remove it from your cat’s vicinity. Don’t hesitate to speak to your vet—your cat’s health and safety are of the utmost importance!

Featured Image Credit: David Hablützel, Pexels

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