Scorpions are a huge concern to many people living in and moving to the Phoenix area. There are more than 40 varieties of scorpions here, and it is not uncommon to find them in populated areas of town. The good news is that only one species of scorpion is very dangerous in Phoenix, and few, if any, people ever die from its sting. Still, I get many requests for information about how to rid a home or apartment of scorpions, and I am often asked if getting a cat will help.
I have heard and read that cats (and chickens) are immune to scorpion stings. I won't address chickens here, because few of us would consider having pet chickens inside the house to rid ourselves of potential scorpion pests. But do people with cats have fewer scorpions, and are cats immune to scorpion venom?
The common belief among both cat and scorpion professionals is that cats are not immune to scorpion venom. So why don't more cats die from scorpion stings? There are a few reasons.
- A scorpion will usually try to run away when it is in danger.
- If a scorpion does sting, it may first inject "pre-venom" which is designed to be painful, but it's harmless and keeps from wasting the real thing.
- A scorpion will deliver a potent sting right from the start if it is provoked or severely handled (like being stepped on by a human). A cat would probably not step on a scorpion 'by accident' and it wouldn't have the same impact if it did.
- Cats notice scorpions more readily than humans do.
- Cats are faster and more agile than their human counterparts.
- Cats have fur. The scorpion stinger isn't very long, and, for most cats, the thickness of the fur protects them from stings.
- Cats have thick skin. Even if the stinger gets through the fur, the thick skin probably prevents the sting from piercing.
I tend to believe, therefore, that cats are not immune to scorpion venom, but rather they are better at avoiding getting stung.
Will Getting a Cat Keep Scorpions Away?
Some cats will leave scorpions alone and others will think you got them a nifty new toy. A cat that eats crickets and other bugs in large quantity might be eliminating a food source for scorpions, but that isn't common for a house cat. Keeping cats isn't likely to deter scorpions from coming into your home if they have that tendency, but if you happen to have a cat that eats them you might be able to keep their numbers down.
If you cat is stung by a scorpion, that doesn't necessarily mean it will die. Not all scorpion stings are lethal. Don't assume that the scorpion sting treatment for humans is the same for your cat. Consult your veterinarian if symptoms appear serious.
So, what's my final answer? I believe it is a myth that cats are immune to scorpion venom. They might, however, reduce your scorpion population, or more likely, alert you to a small intruder in your home (or play with it). You should get a cat if you'd like to have a cat as a pet, and not solely as a scorpion hunter/killer.