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Are Cicadas Poisonous to Cats? Vet-Reviewed Safety Facts

Chantelle Fowler

By Chantelle Fowler


Vet approved

Dr. Tabitha Henson  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson

DVM (Veterinarian)

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

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Cicadas are creepy little insects with large eyes and stout bodies. They’re destructive pests that can wreak havoc on young trees and vines. Female cicadas can lay up to 600 eggs, so you can imagine the damage these pests can do when they’re out in full force. If they can hurt trees, they must also be capable of hurting our cats, right? Wrong.

Cicadas are actually non-toxic for most cats most of the time. The keyword here is most. While a cicada here and there is unlikely to cause any harm to your cat, eating too many can cause issues, and eating even one can be a huge problem if your cat is allergic to them.

Keep reading to learn more.

hepper cat paw divider

Are Cicadas Poisonous to Cats?

Cicadas themselves are non-toxic for both cats and dogs. That said, they aren’t entirely innocuous, and the main problem lies with the quantity of cicadas eaten.

If they’re not part of your pet’s usual diet (which they wouldn’t be since they’re not present all year round), large helpings of cicadas could cause your kitty to experience gastrointestinal upset. Remember, cats have very sensitive digestive systems. Even switching their usual food out for a new brand or flavor can cause vomiting or diarrhea.

Cicadas also have a tough exoskeleton which may be difficult for cats to digest. This can lead to stomach upset. If your pet has eaten quite a few cicadas in a short time frame, a visit to the vet may be in order. Some cats may need intravenous fluids or pain medication to help mitigate the effects of cicada ingestion.

Rarely, cicada ingestion can cause an allergic reaction thanks to the chitin (exoskeleton material). If your kitty is part of the unfortunate few who do have this allergy, you will notice symptoms such as facial swelling, body hives, and itching.

Cicadas Insect
Photo Credit: Ellicia, Unsplash

Why Do Cats Eat Bugs?

It’s normal for cats to eat bugs as it’s part of their natural hunting instinct. Insects provide your little hunter with fiber and protein and even some vitamins like the B vitamins and vitamin C, but your cat is likely eating bugs for the thrill of the chase.

Insects aren’t going to be your cat’s main source of food, but most are an okay snack.

Is It Dangerous to Let My Cat Eat Bugs?

Most bugs are just fine for cats to eat on occasion, including cicadas. That said, some bugs can actually be toxic for cats when ingested, so it’s good to know which to be cautious of.

Potentially toxic bugs include:
  • Poisonous spiders such as the brown recluse
  • Wasps
  • Bees
  • Some moths like the garden tiger moth
  • Caterpillars with hair or spikes
  • Some centipedes like the Texas redheaded centipede
  • Scorpions
  • Fire ants
  • Roaches

Some of the bugs above can put up quite a fight which may also put your pet at risk of bites and stings. While anaphylaxis is rare in cats, it can occur when an allergic cat has received a sting or bite from an insect. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know in advance if your cat has an allergy to insects, but there are some symptoms you can be on the lookout for if you know your cat has been eating bugs:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Drooling
  • Poor coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Cute cat has fleas and itching. cat diseases. red tabby kitten
Photo Credit: Ph.artgraf,Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

It’s perfectly normal and safe for your cat to be interested in hunting insects. It’s ingrained in their DNA to be natural hunters after all. The problem is when your cat decides to eat the fruits of his labor, especially if it’s something new his digestive system isn’t used to.

If you can deter your cat from eating cicadas in large quantities, do so. If you know your kitty has been munching down on these insects and they begin exhibiting unusual systems, it’s best to take them to the vet for examination.

Related Read:

Featured Image Credit: Ross Stone, Unsplash

Chantelle Fowler

Authored by

Chantelle is passionate about two things in her life – writing and animals. She grew up on the prairies in Canada surrounded by animals. As an adult, she chooses to share her home with five cats, two guinea pigs, and a bearded dragon. Chantelle, her husband, and their child take great pride in being THOSE kind of animal parents - the ones who spend a thousand dollars on wall-mounted cat shelves so that their cats can ha...Read more

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