Cockroaches are flying insects that are considered disgusting and avoided by most people. They have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and are often found in warm, dark areas of homes and buildings. While most humans abhor them, cats often take a great interest in these creatures.
Do cats eat cockroaches?
Yes, cats are most likely to eat cockroaches. Despite being domesticated, they still have a predatory instinct and will hunt anything fast-moving and smaller than themselves. If they are hungry, they may also eat the cockroaches they have caught.
However, not all cats will eat cockroaches – each has its own personality and preferences. Some of them may just poke, prod and play around with the insects once they have caught and disabled them. Since felines are hunters, the thrill is more in the actual hunt than the kill.
Indoor cats are well fed, so they most likely won’t feel the need to kill and eat cockroaches. Other cats would willingly eat insects, including bees and beetles, and other creatures like lizards and frogs.
Aside from their hunting instinct, cats may also kill and eat cockroaches as a way of protecting their owners. The act of killing and gifting their owners with rodents or insects is common among felines. The dead prey is their offering, because they are wired to bring home “presents” for their so-called “colony”. It could also be their way of “teaching” humans how to hunt, by showing or bringing dead animals or insects.
What should you do if your cat eats a cockroach?
If your cat has eaten a cockroach, monitor for changes in her demeanor or behavior. Blockages may occur in your cat’s throat, so keep an eye on her if she is chasing a cockroach.
These insects have an exoskeleton – a thick cartilage that covers their exterior parts. Fragments of this could be rough for a cat’s digestive system and could cause severe vomiting, while chunks of cartilage could also get stuck in the throat. These fragments could also irritate her gums. Monitor your cat for symptoms like stomach upset or blockage in the bowels or intestines.
Cockroaches are not toxic unless they have been exposed to poisonous pest control products. These insects may also transmit parasites to your cat if the cat eats them. In this case, your cat may suffer from allergic reactions or poisoning.
Monitor your cat and if she has trouble breathing or if she is choking, drooling or has diarrhea, take her to the vet so she can be thoroughly checked.
To help avoid such situations, try to keep your home free of cockroaches by keeping it clean and disposing of your garbage properly. If you have to use a pesticide, make sure it is safe to use around pets and other animals.
Non-toxic DIY (do-it-yourself) roach repellents:
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth
- Spray rosemary essential oil mixed with water
- Use strategically-placed catnip
- Sprinkle borax mixed with sugar
Can cats hear cockroaches?
Cats have a superior sense of hearing so it would be safe to say that they can hear cockroaches. A cat’s external ear can rotate 180 degrees and it can locate the faintest of sounds. Its hearing range is 45 to 64,000 hertz, while a human’s range is only 64 to 23,000 hertz. Cockroaches make particular hissing or chirping sounds that your cat can probably detect.
Cats are inquisitive creatures with an instinct for hunting and killing prey. This explains why, despite being domesticated, they will still chase and kill anything that catches their attention. Fast-moving creatures like cockroaches fascinate cats and trigger their hunting instinct. Cats may also eat cockroaches, although not all of them will.
If you notice your cat eating a cockroach, be sure to monitor her. If she suffers from vomiting, diarrhea or bowel blockage, take her to the vet for a thorough examination and proper treatment.
Image: istockphoto.com / Eleonor2439