What to Do if a Scorpion Stings Your Cat

Cat Sitting On Rug By Desert
Anselm Schwietzke / EyeEm / Getty Images

There are a number of scorpions in the world, many of which can be found in North America. Scorpions have needle-like stingers that inject venom. They are able to regulate the amount of venom they inject when stinging.

Cats are known for their tendency to chase insects and other small creatures. They may play with them and even try to eat them. What happens if your cat meets a scorpion?

Are Scorpions Deadly to Cats?

All scorpions are considered venomous, but most are not considered deadly. One species known to be especially lethal is the bark scorpion. Though uncommon, these scorpions can be found in Arizona and the surrounding desert region.

Some people believe that cats are immune to scorpion stings, but this is actually a myth. However, it does appear that cats are stung by scorpions far less often than dogs and humans. This might be due to cats' fast reflexes and agility; perhaps they are able to detect the threat and run away before actually getting stung. One theory is that cats hide after being stung and their humans never find out what happened. In addition, most scorpions are more likely to run away from a perceived threat than attack. It's quite possible that cats scare away scorpions before there is an opportunity to get stung.

Despite what you have seen or heard, do not assume that scorpions are harmless to cats. While it is unlikely that a cat will die from a scorpion sting, it is still possible. Plus, a non-deadly scorpion sting can still cause a lot of pain and injury to a cat.

Some scorpions will attack with their pincers rather than stinging. While this will not poison a cat, it can still cause pain and injury.

Your cat may manage to catch and eat a scorpion. Eating the scorpion should not cause any harm, but be sure to watch your cat for signs of a scorpion bite.

Bark scorpion on a log, Arizona
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Signs of Scorpion Stings in Cats

A cat that has been stung by a scorpion is likely to show some obvious signs, but be aware that the cat might hide out of fear and you might not notice any signs of a sting. If you notice your cat hiding uncharacteristically, try to find him and check on his condition.

Scorpion stings are typically very painful--similar to the sting of a bee or worse. Their venom is a known neurotoxin and can, therefore, affect a cat's central nervous system. Cats that have been stung by scorpions may show the following signs:

  • Pain at the site of the sting
  • Vocalizing
  • Licking or pawing at the sting site
  • Swelling
  • Limping
  • Drooling
  • Head-shaking
  • Agitation
  • Drunkenness
  • Tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Abnormal heart rate and blood pressure
  • Abnormal eye movements

What to Do if Your Cat is Stung by a Scorpion

If you believe your cat has been stung by a scorpion, it's important to act fast. Do not assume that your cat will be fine. However, there is also no reason to believe that your cat will die from the sting. Try to remain calm and take care of your cat.

  1. Immediately check your cat for signs of a sting (or any other signs of illness). If nothing can be found, simply keep a close eye on your cat for the next few hours. Most signs will begin to appear within 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. If the scorpion is dead and can be found, try to save it in case your vet needs to identify its species.
  3. If you think the culprit was a bark scorpion, then it's best to get your cat to the nearest open vet's office right away, even if it means a trip to the animal emergency clinic.
  4. Contact your veterinarian to ask for advice, even if you are not certain whether or not your cat was stung.
  5. Your vet may recommend you bring your cat in right away. Or, you may be advised to give diphenhydramine, an antihistamine.
  6. Do not attempt to treat your cat without consulting your veterinarian; this can make matters worse.

If you live in an area know to have scorpions, then you are bound to see one from time to time. Fortunately, your cat is more likely to scare off the scorpions that be stung by one. However, it's important to always keep an eye on your cat in case something happens. Do not delay seeking medical advice if you think your cat had had an encounter with a scorpion.