Do Cats Eat Cockroaches – Toxic Insects Or Healthy Treat?


Our cute, cuddly, loving cats and cockroaches? The disgusting, creepy insect obsessed with filth? The two don’t seem to go together. But everyone gets a roach or two in their house now and then, and when it arrives, your cat has a good chance of finding it and turning it into prey. But can they ingest them? Do cats eat cockroaches? 

Cats eat cockroaches, often while satisfying their hunting instincts. While eating one roach will likely not harm your cat, there are many external factors, such as digestive issues and ingestion of pesticides, that could cause problems for your feline. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at cats’ fascination with roaches, what causes them to eat them, whether or not these insects can harm your feline, and how you can safely get roaches out of your home without hurting your cat. 

Why do cats eat cockroaches

Cats end up eating cockroaches, the hard-shelled and persistent insect dreaded by humans while exercising their natural hunting instincts or merely playing. Domestic cats have strong hunting impulses built into their DNA and inherited from their jungle-prowling cousins.

Since cockroaches are larger than other insects, cats can see them better than some smaller bugs and can feel their distinct hard-shelled texture, making them easier to catch and destroy! As is typical for cats, when they catch and play with things, they will likely bat the roach around, sniff it, and bite or lick it. When exploring the roach with their tastebuds, it might accidentally get ingested. 

Eating the roach can also be very much on purpose. Occasionally, cats will consume things due to anemia or from a disease called PICA. If anemic, the cat is not getting something from their diet and will try to eat unusual things like insects to make up for the missing nutrient.

If eating due to PICA, they could be moved to eat non-food items out of boredom or a psychological compulsion. A veterinarian should be consulted if you are concerned that your cat is eating roaches and other items due to one of these reasons. 

No matter their reason for doing it, roaches are a common thing that your feline friend may decide to snack on. Though it may seem gross to us, it’s just another way of satisfying their constant curiosity to a cat. 

Can cats get sick from eating cockroaches

Cockroaches on their own are not toxic to cats, but that doesn’t mean you should encourage your kitty to help you get rid of your roach problem. 

Roaches have exoskeletons, making the cringe-inducing “crunch” sound you hear when you step on one. This means that if a cat ingests a cockroach and doesn’t thoroughly chew it, the pieces could become lodged in their throat and choke them. Those pieces can also be rough on the cat’s digestive tract and cause vomiting. If a cat frequently eats roaches or other insects with exoskeletons, it can be bad for their teeth, which are not meant to chew on items of that texture. 

Humans who aren’t experts in insect behavior may also mistake a less common, more dangerous insect for a cockroach, meaning if you allow your cat to eat it, there could be toxic properties to the insect. Even cockroaches themselves come in exotic varieties, which have a different set of physical properties and could very well be harmful.

The most dangerous roaches to cats live in an environment that may have been sprayed with pesticides. In particular, apartment buildings in crowded cities often spray for pests regularly. If a cat gets ahold of a roach with pesticide residue on it but hasn’t succumbed, the cat that eats it is also eating pesticides, which can make them very ill and eventually be fatal. 

So while cats may want to play with, hunt, and eat roaches, it’s best to keep them away. This goes for most insects. They are non-toxic in theory, but can be misidentified, pose a choking or digestive hazard, or contain pesticides or chemicals that can be harmful or lethal to your feline. If your cat is in a place where cockroaches frequently appear, it’s best to treat the issue and keep your cat safe. 

Are roaches attracted to cat litter

The type of litter you use in your cat’s litter box dictates whether cats will be attracted to it. Cockroaches are attracted to anything that could serve as a food source for them. Clay, sand, or silica-based litters are not interested in cockroaches because their makeup is not edible. ‘However, biodegradable cat litters containing pine or recycled foods like wheat, beets, or corn, can be a haven for cockroaches. If you have a roach problem or are simply worried about attracting these pests in the future, it’s best to stick with cat litters that will not entice them. 

What should I do if my cat eats a cockroach

If your cat eats a cockroach, you should plan to keep an eye on them. Your cat will likely be fine, but the exoskeleton or potential pesticides could cause side effects. If you notice coughing or vomiting, make sure to call your vet or poison control and let them know your cat recently ate a cockroach. 

It would help if you also did not allow your cat to eat roaches or any insects in large quantities. Their digestive systems could be agitated by this. The presence of many insects also indicates an infestation that is a threat to you and your pet. Treat the infestation, and do not expect your cat to help out with the process! 

How can I keep cockroaches away without hurting my cat

Experts have found that catnip, the magical substance that makes kitties rejoice, actually repels roaches almost 100 times the regular pesticide spray rate. So while many household roach sprays are toxic for cats, you can keep roaches away while making your kitty very happy! After making sure your home is clean, spread catnip in the places roaches frequent and send the dirty insects packing. Your cat will be glad to help with that household chore! 

There are several other natural remedies to roaches, including home mixtures and the use of garden herbs, which you can find online. However, these remedies, while natural and chemical-free, may still be harmful to cats. Do your research before employing any natural technique to repel and destroy insects. 

If you’d prefer to go with a spray, it’s crucial to check the label and make sure the treatment is non-toxic to pets. Many such sprays are available in stores or online. When treating your home, it’s best to pick up food bowls or put them in the sink and wash them out, just to be extra safe. 

Keeping a roach-free environment for your cat

Cats have lots of options to hunt and play with, so cockroaches really shouldn’t be part of their regular hunting routine. They may get one occasionally, but there are far too many risks to allowing it to happen on purpose. Roaches frequenting your home probably means you have a bigger problem. Getting rid of them at the source is the best solution. Just make sure to do so in a way that is safe for your adventurous feline. And try to get your cat to stick to hunting their toys. 

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