Do Cats Eat Dead Cockroaches? [Is It Safe?]

Asking if a cat will eat a cockroach is like asking if the clouds will one day deliver rain. Cats are hunters, and no matter how hard we try to fit them into a “pet” category. Cats are going to be cats until the end of time. Or however long we, as a civilization, have left on this earth.

Cats are hunters and instinctively so. They recognize that they are cared for and understand that their food will arrive each day. However, that won’t stop them from engaging in their hunter versus prey game and eating a cockroach. Whether alive or dead. 

It doesn’t matter if the roach is dead or not. A cat will get immense levels of joy from batting the cockroach around and pretending—in only the way that a cat can act—that the roach is alive and well, needs to be captured, and certainly needs to be consumed.

There’s no such thing as a cat that lacks creativity. Cats will find something to play with and treat as prey that needs to be hunted down, whether it’s a plastic bag, a bottle cap, a marker or pencil, a mouse toy, or a dead cockroach

Is it Dangerous for a Cat to Swallow a Dead Cockroach?

You probably don’t have anything to worry about if you happen to see “Bob the dead cockroach” disappearing down your cat’s gullet. Some things can be dangerous for your cat to eat, and things that are fine and a cockroach generally falls into the “fine” category.

However, that doesn’t mean that there are no inherent dangers in swallowing a cockroach. If you’ve ever heard the fairytale rhyme, I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, then you know it took a horse to finally kill her, not the fly.

The same holds true for your fuzzy, feline friend, who will probably be okay after swallowing a dead cockroach. 

Do Cats Eat Dead Cockroaches?

Now, cats don’t typically run around eating dead bugs, but if your cat is starving and dinner is running a little late, it’s possible. 

You will need to watch out for a few things if you catch your cat eating a dead cockroach.

  • A change in their potty habits
  • Bloating
  • Irritability
  • Pain in their abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

The reason that you will need to keep an eye out for these symptoms all boils down to a cockroaches’ exoskeleton. 

A roaches’ exoskeleton is so well-constructed that it can withstand a level of crushing weight up to 900x their body weight.

Have you ever tried to step on a roach only to discover that after you moved your foot back, the roach scuttled away? Cockroaches have an incredibly hard and highly resilient exoskeleton, and when your cat eats one—whether it’s quite dead or still wriggling—that could be a problem.

As the exoskeleton moves through your cat’s digestive system, it doesn’t get digested properly, and the parts of the cockroach can easily get hung up on your cat’s intestinal wall. But, most of the time, these undigested parts will eventually make their way out.

Unfortunately, they don’t always do so, and it causes an intestinal obstruction in your cat’s gut. 

The above symptoms are what you need to look out for in case such a thing happens. If your cat exhibits any of that behavior in the days following eating a dead cockroach. Get your cat to the vet.

While cats generally have a good deal of fur—with the exception of short-haired cats and sphinxes—you should still be able to hold your cat in your lap and probe its belly with your fingers.

Do so gently, and if your cat seems to react in pain, then you know that there is a problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. 

Other Possible Problems from Eating a Dead Cockroach

Cockroaches are known for carrying hookworms. Roughly 74% of all cockroaches have hookworms. Whether or not a dead cockroach still carries viable and living hookworms depends on how long the roach has been dead.

Hookworms consume their fill along the lining of the small interesting, and your cat will exhibit several symptoms if it eats a dead cockroach that is still carrying viable hookworms.

  • Anemia
  • Tarry stools
  • Bloody stools
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness in the long-term

Anemia is blood loss, and it is how the hookworm feeds. Since it eats along the intestinal wall, it does damage, which promotes internal bleeding. 

Since the hookworm loves to ingest this blood, it creates an anti-coagulant that keeps the wounds from clotting.

Once the hookworm does that, your cat will essentially slow-bleed, indicated by bloody and tarry stools. It will certainly be a noticeable difference in the way your cat’s stools look and will be easy to catch if you frequently scoop the litter box.

Your cat will also lose weight. As much of the vitamins and minerals in its food are now being consumed by the hookworm. Over time, your cat will weaken, especially when you combine a slow loss of blood with a lack of proper nutrition.

The best way to avoid this is to go out and get a dewormer for your cat, especially if you witnessed it eat a dead cockroach. Since cats are traditionally night hunters, you may be asleep when it eats a dead cockroach. 

If that’s the case, you’ll have to pick up on the symptoms listed above. If there is ever a point where your cat is defecating blood or tarry stools, you should pick up some dewormer just in case. 

Dewormers are cheap and effective. They’re harmless to your cat and will rid it of just about any type of worm that is commonly associated with cats, including hookworms. 

Should You Let Your Cat Eat Cockroaches (Dead or Alive)?

If you catch your cat in the act of eating a cockroach, you should intervene. While it’s not likely to harm your cat. The existence of the above-listed complications is enough for you to intervene if possible. 

You’ll also want to ensure that no roaches are available for your cat to hunt, kill, and devour. The best way to do this is to rid yourself of any potential infestation by setting bait traps, calling a pest control company, spraying, using gel baits, or diatomaceous earth. 

Any time you use any kind of strong poison—in spray or fogger form—or call a pest control company. You should remove your cat from the home until the danger of sprays and foggers has subsided. 

Most roach poisons will have warning and information labels letting you know when. 

Also, if you call a pest control company, they will tell you when it is safe for your cat to return. 

Final Word

In the long run, it’s not likely that eating a dead cockroach will harm your cat. And if there are dead cockroaches available, there is a chance that your cat will eat it.

However, there is a chance of complications if your cat decides to swallow a cockroach. So you should be aware of them and always be prepared.  

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