Cockroaches have a reputation for being hard to kill. After all, they can live for a week or even longer without their heads!1 But when these survivalist insects wind up in the crosshairs of a predatory house cat, their luck may run out. But is eating a cockroach dangerous for your cat?
Hunting and eating cockroaches generally won’t hurt your cat, although it could upset their stomach if they eat too many. In this article, we’ll talk about this and other risks of eating cockroaches. We’ll also talk about why your cat might feel the need to hunt cockroaches and what you can do to redirect them from this admittedly unpleasant habit.
What Are The Risks If My Cat Eat a Cockroach?
Eating bugs, especially hard-bodied insects like cockroaches, usually won’t be a problem for your cat but there are a few possible risks to keep in mind.
Sometimes, the hard exoskeleton of the cockroach irritates a cat’s digestive system, causing vomiting or diarrhea. These symptoms usually resolve on their own in a day or two, but you should call your vet if they don’t.
Cockroaches carry bacteria and parasites that could infect you and your cat.
Should You Worry About Pesticides?
Since cockroaches are undesirable house guests, most people enlist the help of an exterminator to get rid of them. Often, that requires the use of chemical pesticides. So, is it dangerous if your cat eats a dying, poisoned cockroach?
Dying cockroaches don’t usually have enough poison in their system to harm your cat if eaten. However, some chemical pesticides could be harmful to your cat if they come into contact with them. If you hire a professional pest control specialist, make sure they know you have pets so they can choose safer products.
When buying your own roach bait or spray, read the label to determine the level of risk to your cat and how to use it safely. You should avoid using any products containing chemicals called pyrethroids. This toxin can cause tremors, seizures, and dangerously high body temperatures in cats.
If you’re ever concerned your cat may have ingested or been in contact with a toxic substance, including pesticides, contact your veterinarian or pet poison control. Try to have the package or label handy to show your vet so they can see what chemicals your cat may have been exposed to.
Why Cats Eat Cockroaches
Anyone who’s watched wilderness survival shows has probably heard that insects are a good source of protein. However, your cat most likely isn’t hunting cockroaches to supplement their diet. As long as you feed your cat a balanced diet, they shouldn’t be lacking any nutrients that cockroaches could provide.
Instead, your cat is most likely hunting cockroaches to satisfy their predator instincts. Wild cats are one of the most effective predators in the animal kingdom and pampered house cats retain those hunting skills even if they don’t need them to survive.
Indoor cats don’t have a lot of options when it comes to finding prey, which is why so many choose to hunt cockroaches and other insects. Eating cockroaches generally isn’t the primary goal but instead, it’s the thrill of the hunt.
How To Keep Your Cat From Eating Cockroaches
The easiest way to keep your cat from eating cockroaches is to keep the two from ever coming into contact.
Prevent cockroaches from coming into your house by cleaning regularly, emptying the trash daily, and storing food in secure containers. Cockroaches like to hide in discarded cardboard boxes and paper, so keep your home free of these items. Use pest control services as needed, with the precautions we already discussed.
To keep your cat from hunting cockroaches out of boredom, provide plenty of safe toys and other environmental enrichment. Spend time playing and interacting with your cat daily but also make sure they have toys for self-guided play when they’re on their own.
Toys that mimic prey and allow your cat to practice stalking and hunting behaviors are a good way to redirect them from eating cockroaches. Laser pointers or even this robotic “bug” are excellent options.
You may not understand why your cat would want to eat cockroaches but you can at least feel reassured that it’s unlikely to cause them any harm. Be cautious with pesticides and make sure to contact your veterinarian if you ever have any concerns or your cat develops digestive issues.
Give your cat other opportunities to show off their hunting prowess besides stalking cockroaches by providing plenty of toys. The cockroach species may survive us all without any help from you but your cat can also survive without eating any!
Featured Image Credit: 1113990, Pixabay