Cats are natural-born predators. Whether they're hunting for mice or simply scrambling for spiders, your furry friend has an instinctive drive to catch and in many cases eat his prey. Be grossed out if you must, but don't be alarmed. Most household bugs aren't harmful to your kitty.
Your average household spider, roach, cricket, ant or other bug won't harm your kitty. However, if a cat eats a lot of them, he could wind up with a little gastrointestinal upset. Bugs with exoskeletons, like beetles, are rough on his digestive tract; he may wind up vomiting the pieces rather than passing them out the other end. Additionally, if he doesn't chew thoroughly, a chunk of a pest can get stuck in his throat, causing him to cough or choke.
Some types of insects may be poisonous to your feline. He may experience severe intestinal problems after swallowing the bug or may have problems from a bug bite. Figuring out which pests are safe and which ones are hazardous can be difficult. If you see a certain type of insect lurking around your basement, try to catch one and have an exterminator inspect it. He can tell you for certain whether or not you have something to worry about.
What to Watch For
Scruffy should be able to cough up or throw up any particles he can't pass, but keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't choke. If Scruffy gets into a coughing fit or seems to have trouble breathing, you'll need to get him to the vet as quickly as possible. Something may be causing a blockage, or he might be having some sort of reaction. Inspect his skin everyday as part of his evening rubdown. Feel for bumps that may indicate a bite and write down exactly where you feel them so you can show the veterinarian.
Bait traps can be deadly to your furry pal. Insect traps attract roaches and other larger bugs. When an insect crawls inside, it takes a bite of the poison and brings it back to his colony, where it spreads. Scruffy isn't likely to get his paws inside the bait trap, but if the roach drags a piece outside of the trap or has it on him when Scruffy decides to catch him, your kitty can become very ill. Insect sprays, foggers, garden insecticides and other repellents can also be devastating and ultimately fatal for your pets. Your veterinarian can recommend a cat-friendly type of bug product, and your local exterminator should have products that are not toxic to your purring companion.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
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.