Do Cats Kill and Eat Roaches? – Safe For Cats?

do cats eat cockroaches

Cats have been used to catch bugs and mice for centuries. They are still the number-one pet for keeping a pest-free house. The trend is prevalent in big cities where people constantly fight with cockroaches, spiders, and other crawlers.

For many people, having a cat is a better solution to the cockroach problem than setting traps or using chemicals. Cats don’t run away from roaches; they will most certainly hunt them down and kill them. But, eating a cockroach is not the best option for the cat’s digestive system.

You are wondering why. Please continue reading to discover why cats eat cockroaches and what happens after eating them!

Do Cats Eat Cockroaches?

Yes, many cats do eat cockroaches if they’re given the opportunity. Cats are animals with excellent hunting instincts, and the prey of choice is anything they can catch. If they see some bug or a cockroach, they are triggered to hunt it. While there hasn’t been any scientific evidence for this claim, cat owners often report that their cats have a habit of killing and eating cockroaches.

Hunting is in their DNA, which comes from their jungle predecessors. So, when a cat spots a roach, it will attack it immediately. In some cases, cats want to play with living cockroaches, but there have been very few reports.

Since the roaches are bigger and have a more rigid body than other insects, they are easily noticeable and catchable.

Once a cat catches a cockroach, it will likely smell it, start biting and licking it and eventually eat it. Thus, we can assume that it is perfectly normal if a cat eats cockroaches.   

Why Do Cats Eat Cockroaches?

The first reason why cats eat cockroaches is because of their hunting instincts. According to evolution, cats are predators of small mammals, birds, herpetofauna, and invertebrates. So, when they see any small creature, they have an internal drive inside of them that tells them to hunt.

The need for hunting is not only for food; it is also about physical and phycological stimulation. This doesn’t only apply to outside cats – even the ones that are the laziest of all and lie on the couch all day will eventually get up to hunt insects around your home.

Every cat owner has noticed their cat staring at a wall for a few minutes. Well, in those moments, your cat is distracted by the flying and buzzing of some bug.

Since domestic cats can’t experience the instinct for hunting, they do that by fishing toys and insects around the house. If the cat is hungry at the time, it may eat the cockroach it has killed. But if it is not, it will leave it.

Whatever the situation, cockroaches are not preferable food for cats. Although the cockroach contains a lot of protein, they have exoskeletons that carry all sorts of bacteria and poison.

Aside from the hunting instinct, a cat will hunt down cockroaches to protect its family. Cats do not realize that, but by hunting and killing, they are trying to protect their owners from unwanted insects and rodents.

This love towards the owner is evident when you let the cat outside. More often, it will come back bearing gifts. This gesture indicates that the cat likes to protect and cherish the family.

In other cases, cats are trying to teach people how to hunt and kill. We will never know the real reason; we can keep on guessing.     

Should I Force My Cat To Eat Roaches?

You shouldn’t force your cat to eat roaches because it can be bad for its stomach. It is one thing not to notice that your cat is eating cockroaches, and entirely different to force it to eat them.

If you have a problem with a roach infestation in your home, thousands of pests probably run around. Your cat should not be used as a permanent solution to the cockroach infestation. Eating cockroaches may upset the cat’s stomach and provoke infections and diseases.

While there are people who have cats specifically, for this reason, it is not recommended to force your cat to eat cockroaches.

Is It Safe For The Cat To Eat Roaches?

While cockroaches are a great source of protein, eating them can be risky. They may be a choking hazard, and their bodies tend to carry a lot of bacteria and infections. And since we cannot follow the cockroach and know to which parasites it has been exposed, we don’t know the risks of digesting it.

In some cases, eating a cockroach is not a big deal. Unless the roach has been exposed to toxic substances, eating it will not be a problem for the cat.

The cockroach’s exoskeleton’s hard exterior can quickly become a choking hazard. When the cat tries to chew up, the shell can end up lodged in the throat. Besides the fact that this is very uncomfortable, it may cause the cat to choke. Also, the shards of the exoskeleton may cause lacerations and throat injuries.

This mainly happens because cats cannot grind the shell into small pieces. Therefore, they are at risk of causing oral irritation every time they try to swallow a cockroach.

Besides the fact that cockroaches are a choking hazard, their shell is indigestible. The juices and enzymes in a cat’s stomach cannot break down the rough exterior of the cockroach. This happens because cats are not able to grind their food.

Essentially, everything that cats eat is broken down only by their teeth and digestive acids. Unlike other animals, cats cannot grind food, and everything that doesn’t break down with the acids and their teeth goes into their system as a whole.

As a result, a blockage is formed. This blockage can cause many health problems and eventually require medical treatment, even surgery.

Last but not least, if we forget about the choking hazard and the indigestible exterior of the cockroach, they are exposed to chemicals daily. The cockroach is not a venom bug, but that doesn’t change the fact that these creatures are treated with poisons are chemicals by homeowners.

Many people set up cockroach traps, spray poisons, and deterrents to get rid of them. And while some chemicals are not toxic, if the cat digests a cockroach that has been exposed, it can cause many issues. Some cats can smell the poison and clean it off with their paw. Still, not all cats can detect toxins.

If a cat digests a cockroach exposed to poisons, it may experience digestive distress, toxicosis, and severe irritation.

What Can Occur If My Cat Eats A Cockroach?

In some cases, this may go up undetected and can be completely safe. While in others, it may cause toxicosis and distress to the cat’s stomach.

By doing this, we are also exposing our cats to the same poisons. Opposed to the popular belief that cockroaches are filthy creatures, they tend to clean themselves. They get filthy only when exposed to garbage, chemicals, poisons, etc.

Once a cockroach goes through a rotten cat’s food or a garbage bin, its coat gets filled with bacteria. If a cat indigests a cockroach filled with bacteria and parasites, it will experience stomach irritation, digestive issues, toxicosis, diarrhea, internal bleeding, and in the worst-case scenario – death.

What To Do If Your Cat Eats A Cockroach?

If you suspect your cat has digested poisonous cockroaches, you must monitor its behavior. Cockroaches are nuclear-proof, so that they might cause blockages. The first thing you need to look for is choking. If you notice that your cat is chasing cockroaches, you need to pay close attention.

After cats kill cockroaches, they tend to eat them. A cat can easily choke on the roach shell by eating them. Also, the rigid body of the cockroach might irritate the cat’s gums.

If you see that the cat has swallowed the cockroach, you still need to monitor it for other symptoms. The cat may experience a bowel blockage or have an upset stomach. While it’s true that cockroaches are not toxic by themselves, they can cause a lot of problems when they are now appropriately chewed. The cockroach exoskeleton can cause a blockage in the cat’s intestines, and you might end up in the emergency room.

Besides the choking and indigestion, you must look out for poisonous or allergic reactions. Since cockroaches may contain bacteria and parasites, eating them may provoke an allergic reaction.

In some cases, the stomach acids can neutralize the poison before it causes any damage. But some toxins cannot be balanced, and you need to be able to recognize the symptoms. If your cat starts having difficulties breathing, or you notice weird bug bites and skin problems, it is time to take the cat to the vet.

Vomiting, drooling, and diarrhea are also signs of intoxication. So, if you notice these signs, it is time to visit the vet.

Why Is My Cat Sick After Eating Roaches?

After cats eat roaches, they may start to vomit. If your cat starts throwing up, it may be a symptom of poisoning. This happens mainly because your cat is not comfortable breaking down the cockroach’s proteins.

Because of the thick exterior, cockroaches are not easy to digest. Many times, small pieces of the skeleton can appear in the feces. So, the first reason your cat is sick after eating cockroaches is that it cannot break down the proteins from the roach.

The second reason may be that the cat feels bloated and experiences gases. This goes for any insects, not just cockroaches. When your cat tries to digest the roach, it may experience gastrointestinal issues.

Gastrointestinal issues are not uncommon in cats, especially ones caused by certain pet foods. This issue does not always show symptoms like vomiting, but it might cause diarrhea and stomach pain.

Some insects tend to carry Physaloptera, otherwise known as worms. While this is very uncommon, it may be the thing that causes your cat to throw up.   

If the cat starts coughing before throwing up, it is a sign that some pieces of the roach’s skeleton are lodged in its throat. When the cat coughs many times and still does not manage to open the airway, it will start vomiting. If you notice these signs, you should be careful because coughing can be fatal in cats. The best fix, in this case, is to call a veterinarian.

Ultimately, your cat may not be sick because of the cockroach. It may have eaten something weird, causing stomach problems and making the cat feel nauseous. It is good to keep an eye on your pet’s eating habits to find the source of the problem quickly.

Sometimes, vomiting is a sign that the cat has eaten too much, and it is not relatable to the cockroach.  

Do Cats Attract Cockroaches?

No, cats don’t attract roaches. Yet, their litterboxes and food might! If the litterbox is not regularly cleaned, it will attract cockroaches. Also, roaches are attracted to many different foods, and cat foods are no exception.

To avoid attracting cockroaches, you should always cover the cat food and not let it out in the open, take the food as far away as possible from wall cracks and holes, and clean the litterbox every few days.

If you are used to storing cat food in open food bowls, you are inviting the cockroaches over. Instead, use an air-tight food container that cannot be chewed, and the food cannot be spilled.  

Should I Get More Cats To Maintain My Home Pest-Free?

So far, we have established that cats eat cockroaches. But does that mean you need more cats for better pest control?

Domestic cats tend to hunt down any flying or crawling insect they see. Still, they shouldn’t be used for pest control. Not only do cats require a lot of attention, but you could also easily compromise their health by letting them eat cockroaches. So, no, cats shouldn’t be your pest control solutions for roaches, you should stick to traditional cockroach extermination methods.

Why Are Some Cats Better Hunters Than Others?

If you are wondering why some cat eats cockroaches and other does not, you should know that this depends on the cat breed. While some cats have the instinct to kill cockroaches, others are not very interested in maintaining pest control.

Throughout history, cats were not used as bug hunters but were primarily bred to chase mice. However, many people have reported seeing their cat eating cockroaches frequently. Therefore, it is safe to assume that indoor cats can kill and eat cockroaches.

Some cat breeds are better at it than others. If you are looking for a cat that will help you with pest control, you should choose one of these breeds: Chartreux, Burmese, American Shorthairs, Persians, Turkish Angora, Manx, Siberian Cats, Siamese Cats, Japanese Bobtail, or Maine Coons.

A cat that is used for hunting is a cat that possesses speed, has quick reflexes and reacts promptly, and has a persistent instinct for hunting and agility.

How To Deter Cockroaches From My Cat?

To deter cockroaches from cats, you need to keep the cat’s food bowls clean and not leave food in the open. To prevent leaving leftovers that attract cockroaches, you can give your cat tiny portions of food twice a day.

Also, you have to store the food properly, in air-tight containers. Besides the food storage, you should use crystal litter which you will clean more frequently.

Ultimately, cats do not attract cockroaches by themselves. If your cat hunts and kills them, it will scare them away. But, if the roaches smell leftover food, you will not be able to get rid of them quickly.

To start controlling pests, you must deprive them of food and a warm home. And remember, cats may be an alternative to get your cockroach problem under control, but they most certainly aren’t a permanent solution.

Final Thoughts On Cockroaches And Cats

Cat owners should know – their pets are not a permanent solution to their pest problem. While cats might be natural hunters, killing cockroaches should not be their most important activity.

Still, if you notice your cat killing and eating cockroaches, you should watch it more closely. Cockroaches are not unclean by themselves but frequently come into contact with different chemicals and poisons.

Therefore, if your cat enjoys eating them, it may experience health problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, constant coughing, indigestion, choking, etc. When you see any of these indicators, you must take the cat to the vet to ensure there isn’t permanent damage to the stomach.

Finally, you can take measures to keep cockroaches away from your cat. Maintain a clean litterbox, and keep the cat’s food in closed, air-tight food bowls, away from cracks and holes. And remember, cats are not a solution to a pest problem.

About The Author:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. His main goal is to provide accurate and helpful DIY tips to keep your home pest-free and how to identify different types of household pests!