I don’t think I’m alone in the fact that I have a horror of cockroaches. (Fortunately, where I live, they aren’t terribly common). Cockroaches have always been considered a sign of a house that is considered to be very unsanitary, poor living conditions, and spoiled food, so it’s no wonder that many humans are repulsed by them.
If you have some cockroaches, it may be tempting to encourage a cat to come kill them for you – after all, cats hunt insects all the time. But is this something that you should be encouraging? Can cats eat cockroaches?
Short answer: Cats can eat cockroaches, but it shouldn’t be the main part of their diet, and eating too many can make a cat feel sick or increase the risk that they will come across a cockroach that is carrying parasites or has poison in it from other traps.
Do Cats Like Cockroaches?
This will depend on the cat. My youngest cat eats bugs (except carpet beetles – she just bats them), whereas my oldest cat doesn’t care one bit about bugs.
Personality plays a huge role in whether a cat will even bother hunting insects, let alone eat them, and it also depends on how well fed they are in the first place.
Assuming your cat will eat bugs in the first place, they seem to like cockroaches, though the hard exoskeleton can give their digestive system a workout and there’s always a risk of getting a cut on the mouth.
Do Cats Hate Cockroaches?
Again, this will depend on the cat. Some simply cannot be bothered eating insects when there is perfectly good cat food that is freely available. Some cannot even bother hunting them! Or some will hunt them, but just leave their dead bodies lying around.
In any event, it’s not likely that this is because your cat hates cockroaches so much as it cannot be bothered to eat them. If a cat was hungry enough, it will eat insects.
Can Eating Cockroaches Kill My Cat?
It is extremely unlikely that cockroaches will kill a cat that eats it – it would have to be horrific luck that causes a cat to choke and die on the cockroach rather than anything in the cockroach itself. And that would be some horrific luck since cockroaches aren’t really that big and a cat would chew it up.
The risk from eating cockroaches though comes from a few things:
- Eating too many can make a cat feel sick because the exoskeleton is hard to digest. This can cause vomiting as the cat tries to get the irritation out of its system.
- If a cockroach has been poisoned by pesticides or insecticides, they can pass that toxin on to your cat when it eats the bug. This can make your cat very ill and may require a trip to the vet. Keep this sort of thing away from your cat’s food to prevent poisoning and don’t use it in the house. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, fitting, collapse, twitching, trouble breathing, and diarrhea.
- Cockroaches can carry germs which can then get passed on to your cat when it eats the bug. The most severe of these is E. Coli, Dysentery, Salmonella, Poliomyelitis, and Gastroenteritis which can cause cats to get sick, especially if said cat has a weak immune system.
- Although not terribly common, cockroaches can also carry parasites like hookworms. Cats can then get infested with them and end up losing weight and getting sick.
If your cat shows signs of being poisoned or infested with parasites, it’s critical to get them to the vet for care, but assuming that happens, cats make a full recovery (and go back to eating bugs if they are so inclined to).
But most of the time, cockroaches won’t do much more than perhaps make a cat feel a bit sick.
How Many Cockroaches are Safe For My Cat to Eat?
Usually, a cat can eat a few cockroaches a day without suffering any ill effects, assuming the cockroaches weren’t carrying parasites or toxins.
A cat that doesn’t have access to a food source will probably eat a lot more of them, but the more they eat, the more chances they have to get sick. Cockroaches also don’t have all the nutrients that a cat needs to stay healthy, though they do have quite a few of them.
Generally speaking, though, a cat should really only have one or two cockroaches a day and it’s not something you would deliberately feed your cat as their own cat food is superior in terms of nutrition and safety.
What Are the Benefits of Cockroaches for Cats?
Cockroaches may seem like a bit of a revolting snack, but for cats, they carry some great nutrients. In particular, cockroaches are high in:
- Protein, which cats need in order to build and repair their tissue and organs, get energy, maintain muscle mass, and regulate metabolism. Several cockroaches would give a cat all the protein they need for the day and cockroaches have more than crickets.
- All the amino acids a cat requires to stay healthy
- Vitamin B12 is important for the cat’s immune system, digestion, and cognitive function.
- A bit of water
Cockroaches really shouldn’t replace a cat’s food (they’d have to eat a lot of them in order to get all the protein), but they can certainly fill in some gaps and force a cat to use its hunting skills which most cats are happy to do.
This is also good for the cat’s mental stimulation, agility, and problem-solving skills, all of which are helpful. Cats also just enjoy hunting cockroaches because they provide enough of a challenge to be fun without being too frustrating.
Although cats can eat cockroaches and may enjoy hunting them, it’s not terribly efficient to use them as pest control. You would need close to half a dozen cats to keep cockroaches at bay in a house, and that assumes all half a dozen wanted to hunt cockroaches, which is never a sure thing.
Cockroaches may disgust humans, but for cats, they are walking snacks, interesting things to watch, or things to ignore. The best way to keep cockroaches away is to keep your house clean and keep food sources locked away.
Relying on your cats to do the job isn’t likely to work, though your cat may approve of the meals on legs!
Does your cat eat cockroaches or just play with them or even flat out ignore them!
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.