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Will Cats Eat Cockroaches? (What you should do)

Anyone who owns a cat has likely seen their cat chase and eat a bug. Felines are great pest control for humans, but it can get a little scary when your cat is hunting a cockroach or even a giant spider that might be poisonous. Gross!

When a cat gets the chance, they will munch on just about anything that crawls, even hard-shelled insects. But will cats eat cockroaches? Yes, they most likely will.

Cats are murder machines and will hunt anything smaller than themselves. Read on to learn more about why your cat ate a cockroach and what to do about that.

Why cats may eat cockroaches

Reason 1: Instinct to hunt

It is instinctual and natural for most animals in the wild to eat whatever they can get their paws on. Hunting is not just about eating but more of physical and mental stimulation.

Even the most domesticated and lazy cat will hunt insects around the house, or even outside if they get the chance. 

Cats have evolved to be hunting machines and the pursuit is what life is all about for felines.

cats hunting instincts

Even if they don’t catch anything, harassing a bug is always a great time. Their hearing and vision cue them into any slight movements.

When a bug sparks their hunting instinct, cats go into a mode that is hard to break. Have you ever seen your cat staring blankly at the wall, motionless for a few minutes?

Sometimes people think their cat sees a ghost when in fact, it is a small bug hardly perceptible to the human senses.

Flying, buzzing, or scurrying bugs will excite your cat’s natural behavior. Some of these bugs include:

  • moths and butterflies
  • houseflies
  • bees and wasps
  • spiders
  • ladybugs
  • centipedes
  • ants
  • etc.

Pretty much any bug you can think of. Even scorpions, if you happen to live somewhere with scorpions. 

Domestic cats, especially house cats, cannot fully experience their natural hunting instinct. Because of this, they must find ways to utilize their skills, and they do this by hunting for mouse, fish toys and random insects in the house.

Cockroaches are pretty fast and will often escape your cat’s claws. This calls for the question of why cats would eat a cockroach if they could not hunt it down in the first place.

The answer to this weird behavior could be simply that cats are not just hunters, but also scavengers. Occasionally, a cat might find a dead roach on which they will happily snack.

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Cats are opportunistic hunters, meaning they will take whatever they come across. Their palettes are not limited to the food we buy; instead, anything will do.

House cats can get bored and, just as we do, scavenge the kitchen looking for goodies. Occasionally there might be a dead bug.

That dead cockroach hidden slightly beneath the fridge might look awfully fun to bat around and munch on for a bored cat. 

Most bugs that a cat finds will not have a high protein or fat content. But they make a great snack and would do in a pinch for a hungry cat.

Reason 2: To protect the colony

Cats protect The Colony

With or without realizing it, cats can protect us from insects with their programmed need to hunt. The act of killing and gifting a rodent or giant insect, even snakes and birds, is common in most cats.

The cat has the instinct to hunt and the innate desire to do good for its family. Those who go outside are likely to bring home gifts for their parents quite often. This is an act of offering.

Feral cats, as well, are known to bring home presents for the feline colony. Of course, in many cases, cats are attempting to teach their humans how to hunt by showing them dead or mostly-dead animals.

Cats provide an excellent pest-control service for us by attacking anything that moves.

They might not eat the cockroaches, but they will certainly kill them. And just the presence of cats should keep rodents and roaches away from your living space.

With cats around, it is unlikely that any pests will be a problem for your home. Any insect that makes it inside the house will be destroyed soon after.

A cockroach infestation could wreak havoc on a home, but having cats for pest management, as we have for over 10,000 years, will prevent cockroaches from making it much further than the front door.

What to do when your cat eats a cockroach?

Step 1: Monitor behavior

Because of their nuclear-proof status, cockroaches may cause internal blockages for your cat. The first blockage could be to their throat.

cockroaches may cause internal blockages for your cat

Even if you notice your cat is chasing around a bug, keep a sharp eye out for them as they could choke on the hard bits of a roach shell.

Eating a cockroach or other hard-bodied insect might cause irritated gums from chewing through the body.

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If they can get all of the insects down, you must continue monitoring your cat for symptoms of an upset stomach and bowel blockage.

Cockroaches are non-toxic but can become a problem if your cat does not chew thoroughly. Blockage in the intestines due to cockroach exoskeleton could become fairly serious and need a trip to the emergency room.

Another concern of eating cockroaches and other bugs is parasites. Likely, at least one of the many free-roaming snacks your cat has eaten has parasites that could affect your cat.

Aside from those, an allergic reaction or poisoning could occur as well. If your cat is eating not just insects like cockroaches and grasshoppers but the giant wolf and black widow spiders, there are other concerns at play.

Although it is likely that if your cat eats a poisonous spider, its stomach acids neutralize the venom before it can cause harm. There is usually no reason to worry that your cat could be poisoned unless you notice poisoning symptoms.

Call your vet and go to an emergency pet clinic if your cat is having trouble breathing that does not stop. If you know your cat was playing with a potentially dangerous animal, check them for bug bites or other skin problems.

If your cat begins to drool, vomit, or have diarrhea that continues for a while, it is time to see the vet. 

Step 2: Safely prevent future bug meals

Pesticides are the usual cause of health problems when a cat eats a cockroach. You would think that internal blockages would be the usual issue, but often it is the pesticide used to keep critters out that cats ingest, which results in vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling.

When choosing a pesticide or insecticide for your home, ensure it is safe for pets in case of accidental second-hand consumption.

Final thoughts

Felines have been at our side for thousands of years, evolving into a beneficial relationship. They get plenty of food and love, and we get (almost) free pest control. 

Cats love to chase, mess with, and kill any bugs that cross their path.

If you haven’t seen your cat chase a bug lately, or if you have excellent pest control without the cats, a laser light will help keep your feline occupied.

This way, they can safely practice their hunting instincts while staying mentally and physically stimulated.

If you can, lead their laser light to a treat so they can feel satisfied by their hunt!