Can My Cat Get Sick From Killing A Cockroach?

Cats are pest killers. That’s certainly something that mankind has known since we first began to tame these unique and eccentric little buddies. Cockroaches are natural prey for cats. Not because they are exceptionally nutritious for cats—they’re not—but primarily because cats just can’t help themselves.

It’s doubtful that your cat will get sick from killing and consuming a cockroach. However, it still remains a possibility. Cockroaches have hard exoskeletons. And that exoskeleton is the most dangerous part for a cat and its digestive system.

While cats will most certainly pounce on a fleeing cockroach, one thing that they can’t do is prevent an infestation of cockroaches. Roaches are every bit as wary as cats are attentive to their surroundings, and a roach won’t come out and run into a cat very often, regardless.

Like cats, roaches are night creatures since that is part of their natural habitat and instinctive, built-in times to feed, drink, and breed. So if a roach crosses a cat’s path, it’s most likely to happen at night, with the battle taking place while you’re sleeping in your bed.

Why Do Cats Go After Roaches?

Dangle a string in front of a cat. And it will go wild trying to catch the end of it and bat it out of your hands. It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter if the cat was sleeping, eating, or otherwise oblivious to your existence. Once you break out that string, your cat will be on point. 

Roaches are much the same way. Their quick, stop-and-go movements, left and right changes in direction, and just the particular way they scuttle about is like that string to your cat. 

Your feline roommate almost won’t be able to help itself, and, most of the time, cats will kill a cockroach as soon as it spots one. 

It may not even eat it. On the other hand, a cat will often be perfectly content to play with its corpse, trying to reenact the roaches’ movements by batting it around. 

Unfortunately, science just hasn’t gotten around to studying cat versus roach behavior, so most evidence pointing to cats going after roaches is entirely personal and shared observations amongst cat owners.

Often, people purchase or acquire cats just because of their hunting instincts. Cats are wonderful for ridding the outside yard of mice and other rodents that you don’t want to infiltrate your house. Cockroaches are on the list as well.

Although a cat will almost certainly drop a roach in pursuit of a mouse. 

How Can Roaches Hurt Cats?

As aforementioned, it all boils down to the roaches’ exoskeleton. However, there are other possibilities to consider as well.

Tough Exoskeloton

A cockroaches’ exoskeleton is the most immediate danger, and although the risk is low, it’s still possible that your cat could choke trying to eat one. This is because roaches have a very tough exoskeleton, and unless your cat chews it up very well, that exoskeleton can get caught in its throat. 

Parasites and Bacteria

In addition to its overly tough carapace, cockroaches carry at least 6 known parasites and over thirty different types of bacteria. No, not the good kind of bacteria either. 

The most prevalent parasite in cockroaches is hookworm. Which is a parasite that can wreak havoc on your cat’s digestive system and health.

A hookworm will cause diarrhea, vomiting, severe weight loss, anemia, and possibly death. Of course, if you have a regular deworming schedule, your cat should be just fine. But the risk is still prevalent, especially if your cat is both an indoor and outdoor cat.

You also have to deal with the idea of the exoskeleton getting caught in your cat’s intestines. This happens because the exoskeleton is hard enough that it passes through the stomach and into the intestines without losing its structure. 

It can get caught there and cause many of the same symptoms that you will see with a hookworm infection. 

Pest Poisoning

Pesticides are another problem. Cockroaches may come into contact with a poisonous pesticide. That is either on their exoskeleton or has been ingested, and the cockroach hasn’t died yet.

In fact, after ingesting a pesticide. The cockroach may be in the act of dying, which will make it slow, directionless, and meandering, all of which may make it easier for your cat to catch and eat. 

It also may lower a roaches’ instincts so that it doesn’t really care that a cat is there and will walk right out in front of it. 

If your cat ingests the roach, it will also ingest the pesticide, leading to several potential side effects.

  • Your cat may have trouble breathing
  • It may be dizzy and very lethargic
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Extremely dizzy
  • You may notice that it is having trouble walking

If you notice any of these symptoms. It’s imperative that you get your cat to a veterinarian immediately. Regardless of whether or not you understand the cause of it. 

The more time you delay, the longer the pesticide has to work its way into your cat’s system.

Are Cockroaches Attracted to a Cat’s Territory?

Roaches are definitely not attracted to the cat itself. However, they may be attracted to your cat’s territory. Especially, if cat food is frequently left out and the litter box hasn’t been scooped or changed in quite some time. 

Roaches want three things: water, food, and shelter. They will go anywhere that they can find these things in abundance. If your cat has a habit of only eating half its food and leaving the rest lying around for a time, that is the kind of thing that roaches will be attracted to. 

If that’s the case, try feeding your cat twice a day, with roughly half the amount of what you usually feed it. Either that or reduce its food intake if it’s wasting the cat food you give it. 

Either way, avoid leaving cat food laying out for long, especially wet food.

The litter box is also a point of interest for cockroaches. It’s not that they’re necessarily attracted to kitty litter. Even though biodegradable litter has its positives in a roaches’ book, they’re attracted to the strong smells of urine and feces.

A roach can find a lot of nutritional value from a pile of steaming cat poo. 

Make sure that you keep the litter box refreshed and scooped on a routine basis. You may also consider switching to odor-killing litter such as clay and silica-based variants.

Roaches are far less attracted to clay and silica. Because they, in and of themselves, lack anything of value to a cockroach. And they also mask the strong odors to which roaches are attracted. So you won’t have much to worry about in that regard if you keep the litter box clean and scooped.

You could also consider getting the type of litter box with a cover. The cover will serve as an additional barrier to the strong smell that is absolutely irresistible to roaches. 

Final Word

If your cat eats a roach or two—that you are aware of—there isn’t any reason to get overly concerned. However, you’ll want to keep an eye on it for the next few days to see if there are going to be any after-effects.

Your feline friend will eat cockroaches without you knowing about it. When you notice unfortunate side effects. Take it to the vet or emergency clinic for a physical as soon as you notice any unusual behaviors or side effects.

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