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What to Do if Your Cat Is Stung by a Scorpion – Symptoms & Treatment

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Vet, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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North America has many scorpion species, especially in the southern states. While many are harmless, all scorpions have venom that they inject with a specialized stinger in their tails. They also have pinchers that can be quite painful.

Cats like to play with small creatures, including scorpions. So, what should you do if your cat encounters a scorpion and gets stung?

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Are Scorpion Stings Fatal to Cats?

All scorpions have venom, but most don’t pose a serious threat to humans or pets. The Arizona bark scorpion and the Stripped bark scorpion are the most venomous in the United States, and may encounter pets in homes, garages, and yards.

There’s a prevailing myth that cats are immune to scorpion stings. But cats may also hide once they’re stung, so humans don’t know about it. Also, most scorpion stings are painful but harmless to cats.

Fortunately, cats aren’t stung by scorpions as often as you’d think. Cats have quick reflexes and remarkable agility that help them avoid a sting. Scorpions are also not as aggressive as they seem and are more likely to retreat from an attack, especially from a relatively large animal like a cat.

Still, it’s best to avoid your cat getting stung as much as possible. Even if a scorpion is harmless, your cat could be in pain or develop a secondary infection or a severe allergic reaction if it’s stung. A scorpion can also grab sensitive areas of your cat with its pinchers, which may cause an injury.

cat playing with scorpion
Image Credit: sinsamut ku, Shutterstock

Symptoms of a Scorpion Sting in Cats

A cat that was stung by a scorpion may show obvious signs, but cats can be good at hiding pain. Your cat may hide and avoid people until it feels better, so if you notice your cat is hiding more than normal, it’s best to examine it yourself.

Scorpion stings tend to be painful, whether the venom is deadly or not. These are the most common symptoms of scorpion stings:

  • Pain near the sting site
  • Increased vocalization
  • Licking the sting site
  • Head shaking
  • Irritation
  • Limping
  • Swelling
  • Drooling
  • Body tremors
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Abnormal eye movements

Many of these symptoms are caused by the potent neurotoxic venom in highly venomous scorpion species, which attacks the cat’s central nervous system.

What Should I Do If My Cat Was Stung?

If you think your cat was stung by a scorpion, seek veterinary attention immediately. It’s not good to assume the scorpion was harmless, especially since your cat can have an allergic reaction.

  • Check your cat for the sting site and pay attention to symptoms.
  • If you can find the scorpion, carefully retrieve it and bring it to the vet with you.
  • If you live in an area where the Arizona bark scorpion or Stripped bark scorpion do too and suspect one has stung your cat, bring your cat to the nearest emergency clinic as soon as possible.
  • Call the vet ahead to explain the situation. They may recommend an antihistamine before bringing your cat in.
  • Do not attempt to “wait it out” or treat your cat at home, unless your vet recommends it.

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Conclusion

If you live in an area with a lot of scorpions, especially bark scorpions, your cat is likely to come across one. You can limit this possibility by hiring pest control and removing areas where scorpions like to hide, such as wood piles, debris, decorative rocks, and heavy bushes and foliage. Your cat may be more likely to scare the scorpion away than get stung, but you should do your best to keep the two from encountering each other.

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Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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