Do Cockroaches Harm Cats?

"Mmm, cockroach for dinner."

"Mmm, cockroach for dinner."

Odds are that if you have a frisky feline, you won't have any pests in your home. Kitties love to hunt, even if they're preying on just a cockroach. Don't fret if your fuzzy pal eats a cockroach, just keep an eye on him. Although it might gross you out, he's delighted to catch something and feast on it.

Hunting Instinct

Your domestic cat has the same hunting instinct as his lion cousin, except Felix doesn't have to hunt to survive. He does it more for fun and to catch presents for you. He'll be sitting on the back of the sofa, perfectly content, when suddenly he catches the slightest motion out of the corner of his eye: a cockroach. He'll smoothly jump off the sofa and crawl closer to the bug, eyes fully dilated. As soon as that roach comes to a stop or slows down, Felix will make his move. He might just bat around at the roach to play, but if he's curious, he might nibble on it. Cockroaches shouldn't harm your kitty, but there are a few things to watch for.

The Exoskeleton

Cockroaches have exoskeletons, a thick cartilage-like covering on the outside of their bodies, instead of bones. That crunching feeling you get when stepping on a roach, or the snapping sound when Felix chews on one, comes from crushing the exoskeleton. These fragments can be rough on his fragile digestive tract, making him vomit the chunks rather than pass them out in stools. Additionally, because these pieces are a little tough, they can get stuck in his throat if he doesn't chew thoroughly before swallowing. Watch for signs of choking or difficulty breathing if he's gnawing away on a roach. Coughing or choking might require you to get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Poisoning

Cockroaches aren't generally poisonous, explains Dr. Mike Richards, Virginia-based veterinarian. However, there are thousands of varieties of roaches, and what appears to be a roach might actually be some other bug. If you have an infestation or if you see several roaches lurking around, try to catch one. Have an exterminator take a look at it to make sure it is just a pesky, non-toxic cockroach and not something more dangerous.

Other Concerns

Chomping down on a cockroach probably won't do any major damage to your purring companion, but poisons are definitely a concern. If you have cockroaches in your home, be careful with sprays or traps designed to kill these critters. Your feline might ingest some of the poison, which can be detrimental to his health. Even if you don't have these products in your house, your neighbor might have them in his garage. When Felix goes next door to hunt, he could come into contact with those chemicals. Leaving your beloved furry friend indoors keeps him safe. If you must use roach sprays or traps, choose varieties that are labeled non-toxic or pet-friendly.

 

About the Author

Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.

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