Bugs make my skin crawl. You’ll 100% find me jumping with terror if there’s a cockroach in the vicinity.
Thankfully, I have a knight in shining armor to protect me- my kitty! She makes them disappear so I can breathe a sigh of relief.
But only until I discovered what she does with bugs. I found out she EATS THEM!
But can cats eat bugs? Is it actually safe for them?
Read this next: Smalls Cat Food (The FRESHEST Cat Food Delivered?)
As much as we hate this, cats do end up eating bugs. For cats that are out in the wild, bugs form a key part of the diet. In fact, around 12% of a feral cat’s diet is made of bugs and insects.
These bugs include bees, wasps (stinging insects), fireflies, hornets, fire ants, butterflies, beetle and cricket species, ladybugs, grasshoppers, moths, caterpillars, and many more.
House cats, however, don’t need to slum it with bugs and insects to meet their nutritional needs. They get all excited looking at bugs because it brings out their hunting instincts.
But can they harm them and cause serious health problems in cats?
Why Do Cats Eat Bugs?
House cats find hunting bugs far more stimulating compared with cat toys such as a feather at the end of a stick. Those toys are designed to bring out the hunting instincts in a cat, but nothing beats an actual hunt.
But what happens if your cat ends up eating the bugs?
Cats need protein that comes from animal food, considering they are obligate carnivores. Their sugar needs are met by a process in the body called gluconeogenesis, which uses protein.
You should make sure your house cats get their protein needs from the cat food you give them.
In fact, some cat food manufacturers have understood that protein from bugs can also be good for cats.
Along with the nutritional benefits, protein from bugs is a more environmentally-friendly option compared with what is usually seen in traditional pet food.
For cats that have been diagnosed with allergic reactions or are intolerant to certain kinds of food, insect-based cat food can be suitable. This is because insects and bugs are seen as novel proteins, which essentially means it’s a protein source the cat has not had before.
The chances of an adverse reaction from novel proteins are far less than in traditional pet food.
The bugs that they do hunt usually have a small amount of protein. Cats in the wild depend more on mice, birds, and rabbits among others for their nutritional needs. But your house cat chasing a bug down is more down to the excitement of the chase.
Since bugs are typically small and keep moving around, your cat may find it good practice for predatory behavior.
Many cats actually enjoy crunching through the tough exoskeleton of bugs such as beetles, roaches, and moths.
Read this next: The 6 Best Cat Foods for Pancreatitis (2022): Diet and Causes
Yep, totally gross eh!
One quick word on moths whilst I am here. Let's talk mothballs!
Mothballs are extremely poisonous to cats. Eating just a single mothball can cause toxicity.
That's because mothballs are really just solid, concentrated pesticides.
Signs of mothball toxicity include weakness, tremors, vomiting, lethargy, and seizures.
Should My Cat Eat Bugs?
The biggest worry cat owners may have is about the impact of eating bugs on their kitty’s digestive system.
Most insects and bugs that you get at home are typically not big enough to cause any internal problems for your cat.
But some insects do have parasites that can infect your cat and cause stomach upset, oral irritation, and other symptoms.
The stomach worm is one such example. However, the chances of this happening are few and far between.
Some cats can have an irritant effect and have gastrointestinal issues. They may show signs of vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea after eating a bug.
If the symptoms don’t get resolved in a couple of days, it could be a severe attack. In such cases, you should immediately take your cat to the vet.
Roaches can carry parasites that are not good for cats. Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes, and Flies. Fleas are common and can cause itchiness and even anemia.
More often than not, we use insecticides and pesticides to deal with the bugs that enter our homes. The bigger worry is your cat may try to ingest the bugs after they’ve been covered with the poisons from the insecticides.
These poisons are also ingested by the bugs. This means your fur baby would also ingest insecticide when they eat such bugs.
Although it is unlikely there would be a drastic impact, you should still look out for poisoning symptoms in your kitty.
Make sure your kitty doesn’t come in direct contact with toxic foods or insecticides. If it is ingested directly by your cat, it can be a lot more harmful. Check to see if the insecticide you’re using has any pyrethroids.
These are capable of causing seizures, tremors, and high fever among cats. If you have any doubt whatsoever that your cat may have ingested an insecticide, such as a roach bite, it is always better to get them checked with your vet.
Us cat owners must also bear in mind that in some parts of the world our curious kitties may encounter dangerous bugs and poisonous spiders.
These include the Black widow, Brown Recluse and Hobo Spider.
The venom from a spider bite could potentially be lethal. So be on your guard.
Read this next: Best Cat Food For Smelly Poop – 8 Top Wet and Dry Foods
Do Cats Miss Hunting?
Cats are instinctive hunters and obligate carnivores. Their biological makeup is geared towards hunting for food and exhibiting predatory behavior.
But since they already get their food from you and have no real opportunity to hunt for mice, they substitute bugs as their hunting targets.
The insects in your house are simply unfortunate to have become the center of your kitty’s attention.
Your feline friend will see it as playtime as well as some hunting practice.
In fact, if you pay attention, your cat very likely won’t even ingest the bug. They like to play around with the insect as long as it’s alive. Once the bug dies, your cat loses interest in it almost immediately.
Even if your cat does put the bug in your mouth, they are very likely not trying to ingest it. They might just like the feeling in their mouth.
Can Cats Eat Bugs: Summary
Felines are natural hunters and as such love chasing their prey. Bugs are specially targeted by your cat because they help in stimulating their sense of hearing as well as vision.
It is very common for cats to hunt bugs. If they sometimes eat bugs, you need to keep an eye on your cat to check for unusual symptoms.
Eating the bugs provides them with vitamins and minerals so they can be looked upon as a kitty snack.
Most of the common insects you see around the house are usually harmless to cats. There can, however, be some that can cause intestinal issues.
Bugs that are not poisonous can still result in vomiting or similar gastrointestinal issues, especially if they eat too many. Most of the time, the insecticides you use are more harmful than the actual insects themselves.
Take your time to understand what kind of risks insects can pose to your cat. Doing so will keep you alert, and you will know what to do in case your cat does eat a bug or insect and if they are poisonous.