Can Cats Eat Bugs Including Insects

A Bug is a term loosely taken to mean small creepy-crawly legged arthropods especially some insects, arachnids and myriapods and not the strictly to mean true bugs which are insects in the order Hemiptera, that include aphids, cicadas, ants and assassin bugs.

Therefore, going by its loose meaning, some of the common bugs include termites, beetles, centipedes, mosquito, bumblebee, ants, houseflies, June bugs, bee, fleas, pterygote, ladybird beetle, aphid, stink bugs, earwig, silverfish, spiders, moth, hornet, butterflies, cockroaches, weevil, grasshoppers, mantis, crickets, and so on.

Why cats hunt insects and bugs?

As hunters, these pets love stalking, chasing or pursuing as well as catching or pouncing their preys. They often taking advantages of not only their acute sight but also their hearing sense that is able to pick any subtle movement.

Can cats eat bugs?
Can cats eat bugs?

You may enrich their lives with various toys but their natural instincts can detect bugs; they will find more it thrills in pursuing them instead of toys.

While small preys such as rats, mice, squirrel, rabbits and some reptiles, birds, and amphibians make a bulk of their diet, they also eat some bugs.

However, they do not hunt for them because of hunger and insects are not a good source of protein to sustain felines, it is part of their natural behaviors.

Their brains have been evolutionarily adapted to chasing and catching any small, fast-moving things and this nature doesn’t end by domestication.

In most instances, after hunting a certain bug, they are unlike to eventually eat them. They may bite them but not ingest them. The hunting is more like a hobby or a way of passing time.

Finally, it could be part of pica where these pets eat non-food material or from pure curiosity.

Possible risks

Whereas there are some safe insects and creepy-crawly critters that these animals can eat without any problem, there are a few general concerns.

  1. Gastrointestinal upsets, vomiting, and diarrhea. See your vet if it does not resolve within a day or two.
  2. Some may be harboring intestinal parasites including stomach worms such tapeworm. However, this risk is very low.
  3. Some may sting or bite your kitty causing allergic reactions that could be anaphylactic or localized.
  4. Some may be having insecticides used in their control. However, these present a low risk of affecting your cats and will only lead to mild gastrointestinal irritation.
  5. Some bugs can be poisonous while others such as the ticks, ear mites, and fleas suck your cat’s blood or may have a nasty taste. Fleas may also carry tapeworms.

If you use insecticides to control these bugs, you need to read the label. Some of them are poisonous to your feline pals if they contact them directly.

Finally, you should be less worried even if your kitty eats insects that have poison while “still alive and kicking, pet owners might be concerned about the effect that eating a poisoned insect could have on their pets. As it turns out, in most cases there isn’t any need to worry,” advises PetMD.

Common bugs and Insects cats may eat

There are many bugs that your cats may eat. Some may be harmless while others may be poisonous and harmful. Let us look at some of the common bugs that your feline may encounter.

1. Spiders

While most of the small ones are generally harmless. There are some such as the Brown Recluse, Black Widow, hourglass spiders, hobo and whitetail spiders whose bite is poisonous.

Therefore, while hunting for them, your feline friend may be bitten. This can lead to illness, local tissue necrosis that may afterward become deep, or even death.

Signs of their bites include localized itching and soreness. After a few days, symptoms such as fever, weakness, nausea, rash, chills, and joint pain may be noted. Check for any lesions that do not heal or are uneven.

In case of such spider bites, the affected area may worsen if your kitty keeps on licking it as this will make it drain more and become sore. Also, the bite may be severe depending on the specific type of spider involved.

See your vet in case of a spider bite and ensure your feline does not lick the affected area by using things such as an Elizabethan collar.

2. Flies and Cuterebra larvae

Regular houseflies may be harmless to your feline friends besides wanting to lick any drains or wound. Use fly repellent to keep them away.

However, the bot fly of the Cuterebra species may lay eggs on your feline and once they hatch, their larvae may burrow beneath this pet’s skin.

These larvae may be noticeable if you looked on their holes. Let your vet help you in removing them. Doing it yourself may rupture them.

3. Yellow Jackets, wasps and bees

As they fly around, they may attract the attention of your feline friend who may want to stalk and catch them.

However, your kitty may be stung especially she goes near their nests or stalking them in grasslands.

Most stings are itchy or cause skin irritation that is quite painful. Swelling and localized allergic reactions may occur but can result in anaphylaxis on rare occasions in some cats.

In case of anaphylaxis, expect symptoms such as “inflammation of the paws, swelling of the head, labored breathing, pale gums, seizures or excessive drooling,” according to The Nest.

For a bee sting, use antihistamines such as diphenhydramine. However, discuss the issue first with your vet.  After a sting, any respiratory issues, oozing or severe swelling needs to be addressed by your veterinary.

4. Fire ants and other ants

Most ants are harmless except for the large ones. These bites are also harmless but may break your kitty’s skin.

However, fire ants have poisonous bites that often result in localized allergic reactions since they leave their stinger inside your cat’s body after a bite.

Although not common, it is possible for anaphylaxis in some cats or kitten and an attack by so many fire ants may overwhelm small cats and even kill them.

Use pet-friendly means to control fire ants as most of the chemicals (poisons) used to kill them may be harmful to your kitties.

5. Scorpions

While trying to play or capture a scorpion, your cat may get stung. The sting is very painful and will result to a localized allergic reaction.

Additionally, as The Spruce Pets states, your fluffy friend may“ develop vomiting, trouble breathing, or other unusual behavior.”

Be careful if you live in areas prone to scorpions and see your vet in case of a sting. Fortunately, scorpions not common near most households.

6. Moths

Do cats eat moths? Yes, the do. Moths are harmless to your felines. However, they may lead to some oral irritation or GI upsets. Sometimes, your feline may vomit the moth out.

However, some types such as Garden Tiger Moth and its larvae are poisonous if ingested by your feline friend.

Cloth moths can be kept away using cedar. While you can also use mothballs, they are poisonous to these pets since they have concentrated pesticides that will lead to various toxicity symptoms in cats including weakness, vomiting, breathing problems, tremors, lethargy, seizures, and even death.

7. Crickets and grasshopper

Are crickets and grasshoppers safe for cats? Yes. These insects are nontoxic, and your cat will enjoy stalking, chasing and pouncing on them. It is also not uncommon to see cats eating grasshoppers or crickets too.

Besides their exoskeleton that may irritate their mouth or cause stomach upsets especially if your feline eats so many of them, there is nothing much to worry about crickets and grasshoppers.

8. Cockroaches

The roaches are equally harmless if your cats eat them. However, they may be harboring some parasites. Consider regular deworming if your feline is fond of eating roaches.

9. Centipedes

The small house centipedes are generally harmless, and your cat may help keep them away. However, the bigger ones have venomous and can bite your kitties.

When beaten, expect symptoms such as local allergic reactions or fever and weakness if the poisoning is severe.

However, Texas Redheaded Centipede and Giant Redheaded Centipede are considered very toxic and deadly. However, they are not commonly found near homes.

10. Fleas

Fleas will suck your feline’s blood and may cause anemia. While grooming, a cat infested will fleas may ingest them. Since they often harbor tapeworms, your feline may end up with this endoparasites too.

Also, allergic dermatitis may occur, and your feline may scratch themselves leading to hair loss, skin bleeding, and so forth.

There are many ways to get rid of fleas in cats including some easy home remedies.

11. Ticks

Commonly noted in cats that go outside the house or outdoor ones, ticks are vectors to several diseases including Cytauxzoonosis. However, indoor ones can also be affected.

Fortunately, not all types of ticks can complete their lifecycle while indoors. Always check for any ticks and if you notice any with symptoms such as your cat looking ill, sore or being lethargic, see your vet.

12. Mosquitoes

While your feline might want to trail them around, mosquitoes often bite cats as well as irritate them as they fly around including inside your house.

Besides bites, they are vectors for the heartworms which commonly affect dogs but can also affect cats causing an acute death with no known reasons.

13. Firefly or lighting insects

Are lightning bugs poisonous to cats? Yes. If your feline eats them, they have may digestive system upsets since they produce some bitter chemical known as lucibufagins that closely resemble the poisonous bufotoads secretions.

It is rare for your feline to catch them since they will move away quickly.

14. Caterpillars and butterflies

Butterflies are generally harmless to your felines. In fact, they will enjoy chasing them around. However, their larval stages, the caterpillars, may sting your kitties. Also, some larvae, the larger exotic ones are poisonous

For instance, the Monarch Butterflies often lay their eggs in milkweed and once they hatch to caterpillars, they are poisonous if ingested.

Fortunately, both the milkweed and monarch butterfly caterpillars are bitter, and these pets are unlikely to eat them. However, you should see your vet in case your feline eats these caterpillars as they can lead to death if left untreated.

Finally, although the wooly bear caterpillar does not bite or sting, it is poisonous and your feline pal should not eat it.

15. Bed bugs

Bed bugs will bite and suck your feline’s friend blood just as they do to human beings. If they infest your home, talk to a pest control personnel to help eradicate them. We have something on whether bedbugs can live on cats or not.

16. Are boxelder bugs poisonous to cats

No. They are not poisonous or dangerous. Cats can snack on boxelder and tolerant them better than dogs. However, stomach upset, vomiting and drooling may be noted.

Fortunately, their nasty taste will make your feline not to eat many of them.

See also

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