Cats are apex hunters who will attack and kill anything that they feel is small enough to kill quickly and which may appear appetizing. So yes, cats will chase, attack, and kill cockroaches and eat them. This scenario is most likely when a cockroach infestation is bad enough in a home to become visible during the day.
That said, cats are also likely to have more access to roaches during the night while their owners are asleep. That’s because roaches will hide during the day and usually only come out at night to feed.
And cats are also nocturnal creatures who may spend most of the night exploring the house and looking for prey.
As a result, owners who hear their cats scurrying around the house at night may be hearing them hunting and killing a roach. And those who see their cat eating a cockroach may feel their stomach turn and worry about their cat’s health. After all, many bugs are toxic to animals, and cats are no different.
A cockroach is not toxic to cats most of the time, though it may cause some nausea. There are times when eating a cockroach can be problematic and even dangerous for a cat’s health, meaning it is best to prevent this problem with various types of pest-control methods that destroy roaches.
Why Do Cats Eat Cockroaches?
Cats eat cockroaches for the same reason they eat anything else: they are hungry. Though some cats may be particular about what they eat, others have a stronger hunting instinct or prey drive that they cannot control easily.
And a wiggling cockroach is too tempting for most cats to ignore when they’re spotted. The speed of the average cockroach species is also irresistible to cats, who will find capturing them an exciting and fun challenge.
Are Cockroaches Safe for Cats?
While roaches are not the best food source for a cat, they aren’t naturally toxic. Cats usually easily tolerate eating a roach with minimal difficulties.
Chewing through the tough outer skin may be challenging for many cats, and most are likely to give up if it is too strong.
That said, owners shouldn’t let their cats eat roaches if they can avoid it. That tough exterior skin may cause digestive tract problems if the cat gets it down.
And if the cockroach has been poisoned, the cat’s life may be at risk.
How Will a Cat Behave After Eating a Roach?
Roaches are usually intensely dirty on the outside due to their lifestyle, which may cause some cats to gag on the roach as they attempt to eat it.
Many will retch or even vomit after swallowing the insect. Usually, they will void the hard skin of the roach if they get it all the way into their stomach.
The cat may act “grossed out” for a few minutes after it is done eating but is likely not to show any serious problems or symptoms.
If they do vomit, it may be a good idea for the owner to watch them for an hour or two to make sure that they don’t show any other symptoms of toxicity or poisoning.
Should Cats Be Used for Cockroach Management?
Cats should not be allowed to eat cockroaches and should not be used as a roach-control method. While cats can quickly kill roaches if they find them, they are not persistent enough to manage this problem.
Most roach infestations will include thousands, if not millions, of these pests, And one cat alone is simply not enough to handle all of these bugs.
Just as bad, any roaches that a cat eats may cause an upset stomach or even spread diseases. This potential danger only increases with each cockroach that a cat is allowed to eat.
And this problem is also a severe issue if homeowners use DIY pests or poisons to control roaches. Most cases of roach-to-cat toxicity are a result of this spread of pesticides to the cat.
The other problem is that many cats are likely to play with a roach without killing it. Milder and less prey-driven cats may chase a cockroach, bat it around, and even bite it but never entirely kill it.
As a result, the cat is being exposed to potential bites and even diseases without creating many pest-control benefits. Instead, homeowners need to find a professional who can handle a roach infestation more easily.
Can Roaches Spread Disease to Cats?
While roaches don’t spread as many diseases as mosquitoes, they still carry many infections. And an infected cockroach could spread many of these conditions to a cat. Just a few health problems that may occur in this scenario include:
- Typhoid fever
Cockroaches may also carry various parasites that may infect a cat after ingestion. Parasitic worm larvae are particularly common in roaches, and these may quickly spread and worsen inside a cat’s larger indigestion system and body.
What Bugs are Toxic to Cats?
While roaches aren’t technically toxic to cats, they may cause stomach discomfort or gagging when eaten. However, many forms of pests are poisonous or harmful to cats. Controlling the following pests is critical for keeping a cat healthy and safe from this danger:
- Poisonous spiders like the Black Widow, Brown Recluse, or Hobo Spider
- Butterflies, moths, and caterpillars of most species
- Bees, wasps, hornets, or any other insect with a stinger that delivers poison
- Centipedes, especially the huge ones that may curl around and bite a cat
- Scorpions of most species, particularly those that sting
- Some types of red ants, particularly the biggest species with the highest aggression
- Many types of beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers
- Fleas, mosquitoes, flies, and ticks
Various types of pest control should help to keep these insects out of a home. Homeowners may also want to limit their cat’s outdoor time, as well, as many cats are likely to find and eat these insects outdoors and get sick.
What Symptoms May a Cat Experience With Toxicity?
Though cats aren’t likely to experience toxicity symptoms with roaches, they may still react poorly to eating one. And if they eat a poisoned roach, the cat may behave in various strange ways.
Owners must know how to spot these symptoms to gauge when a cat is safe or sick. These signs of toxicity and poisoning in a cat include:
- Nausea, confusion, and vomiting
- Weakness and sleepiness that wax and wane
- Difficulty walking that may result in collapse
- Tears in the eyes and dilated pupils
- Excessive meowing and other signs of discomfort
- Seizures and tremors that may occur suddenly
- Tilted head and lack of focus on objects
- Sudden loss of appetite and extreme lethargy
- Extreme voiding of waste that may smell very potent
Pet owners should take their pet to a veterinarian right away if they show these symptoms. Doing so may save their lives.
The vet may also have various types of food or other control methods that can keep roaches away from cats.
These products are usually pretty inexpensive and may be covered by many forms of pet insurance as a preventative care option that avoids serious health issues in cats, especially parasitic stomach worms.
How Can You Keep Cats Away From Roaches?
Cat food bowls are a common source of food for many American cockroach species. And this is where a cat may easily find them.
As a result, owners need to do what they can to keep roaches out of their cat’s food. Use natural oils that deter cockroaches from an area, such as various types of potent cinnamon or pepper oils.
These smells may annoy the cat but are more likely to get rid of the roach than they are the feline.
Owners may also want to use various DIY pesticides, but they may hurt a cat if they eat a cockroach. As a result, it is best to get a professional treatment that helps with this problem by following these simple steps:
- Schedule Treatment — Owners must find a pest-control expert who can handle a roach problem and schedule a treatment method. Owners will need to leave their house during this process.
- Remove All Infected Food — Pet owners must get rid of any food in the house (including cat food) that roaches have invaded and throw it away before treatment experts arrive.
- Find a Place to Stay — Everyone in the house and their cat will need to stay elsewhere during the pest-control treatment to ensure that nobody gets sick from the pesticides.
- Repeat This Process — When pet owners find that roaches are still in their home, it may be necessary to get this treatment process repeated a few times. Cockroaches are tough to destroy due to their hardiness.
Unfortunately, cat owners aren’t likely to train their cats to avoid cockroaches because their prey drive is usually too high.
As a result, it is usually best to take get the multiple treatments necessary to get rid of roaches.
Therefore, a cockroach spray will benefit everyone in a home by eliminating this disease-carrying vermin.