Moths are a common sight around homes since they are attracted to light sources and it’s easy enough for them to get in through open doors, torn screens, or other entry points. Therefore, if you also have a cat, you’ve probably seen dead or torn-up moths from your cat’s nocturnal hunts of the winged insects. And if given the opportunity and the desire, most cats will gobble a moth or two, not just leave it lying around. If this sounds like your cat, is this something you should worry about? Can cats eat moths?
Short answer: cats can usually eat a moth or two with no ill effects, though as with anything else, there are caveats. Fortunately, most cats won’t eat more than a moth or two at any one time and spend a lot more time just playing with them.
Do Cats Like Moths?
Cats have a natural instinct to hunt insects and vermin, and the fluttering of a moth is generally irresistible for cats. But will you find a lot of half-eaten moths? Well, that really depends on the cat. My cats were never into eating moths so much as knocking them around and playing with them (to the death of the moth in more times than not), but since they ate well from their bowl, they never really felt the desire to eat their ‘prey’. (We will see how my newest cat does since she did use to spend some time outdoors. She may be more into gobbling moths come summer!) Other cats will eat moths or eat least eat part of them.
Whether your cat will eat a moth depends on other factors: are they hungry at the time of the ‘hunt’? Do they eat other bugs or insects or just play with them? Moths are a source of protein for cats so some may feel driven to eat it, while others can’t be bothered and just leave the kill lying around. Cats will also tend to shy away from moths that could be toxic to them, meaning you might have even more dead moths lying around.
Do Cats Hate Moths?
If you’re wondering why your cat won’t eat moths, it’s easy to think that they just don’t like to eat them. This could well be the case – after all, cats have preferences like any human, and some of them may not like the taste of moth. Still, other cats may not feel the need to eat a moth since they have perfectly good food in a bowl waiting for them.
It’s difficult to say whether a cat hates eating moths or whether they just aren’t interested in eating moths. Either way, if your cat isn’t interested, don’t worry about it. They are likely getting all the nutrition they require from their regular cat food and a moth is just an interesting plaything.
Can Moths Kill My Cat?
Most moths will not kill or even harm cats, assuming that they don’t try to live on a diet of moths. But there are some exceptions to this.
First of all, the Garden Tiger Moth is toxic to cats. Symptoms of garden tiger moth poisoning include (but are not limited to):
- Vomiting or drooling
- Lethargy or uncoordinated movement
- Breathing difficulties
Garden tiger moths are distinctive moths with brownish front wings with a white pattern and orange back wings with a black dotted pattern. They tend to be found in the northern parts of the US, Canada, and across Europe. The caterpillar of this moth is also toxic to cats. Thankfully, most cats will instinctively know that this moth is no good to eat and so poisoning is fairly rare.
Some moth caterpillars are also toxic, though they tend to cause stinging in the mouth, which is mostly an annoyance, though some cats are allergic which can cause their own host of bad reactions.
Eating too many moths can also cause vomiting or diarrhea simply because it’s not something cats are accustomed to eating and can upset their stomach. Many moths also carry insecticides that can cause secondary poisoning to your cat. Again, it’s unlikely that this will kill your cat, but it could make your pet quite ill.
Moths themselves rarely harm cats, but mothballs, which are often used to repel moths, can be quite toxic. It’s important to find alternative ways to repel moths because mothballs can cause cats to become very ill or be killed by it. Use cat-friendly alternatives instead to keep the moths away from your clothing and keep your cat safe. These include things like cedar and lavender.
How Many Moths are Safe for My Cat to Eat?
Cats really don’t tend to treat moths as a staple food unless they are starving and have little recourse. On their own, the average cat will maybe eat one moth a week or every few days and that tends to be fairly harmless. Most cats won’t eat moths at all and instead will simply play with them, kill them, and abandon the body for you to find in the morning.
There is no hard and fast ‘amount’ of moth that is safe for a cat to eat because we don’t know how much of a tipping point there is for a cat between ‘fine’ and ‘upset stomach’. Most cats won’t gorge themselves on moths anyway, so it’s unlikely you’d have to worry.
Cats chasing moths (and butterflies!) is perfectly normal behavior. The fluttering motion is attractive, there’s enough of a challenge to keep cats interested, and moths don’t put up much of a fight. If you catch your cat chasing moths and eating them, you probably don’t have much to worry about, but if you want to discourage your pet, try clapping softly or calling their name to distract them while you take the moth out.
Using natural moth repellent like cedar will also help ensure that cats don’t cross paths with these insects and won’t get poisoned by your repellant. Again though, if you find a half-chewed moth, assuming it’s not a Garden Tiger Moth, you probably have nothing to worry about.
Does your cat eat moths?