Do Cats Scare Off Roaches?

Cockroach infestations will not only make you feel like your house is in absolute disarray, but you’ll also have a heck of a time getting things back in order and ridding yourself of these relentless pests. You may think that owning a cat will do that for you. However, you’re bound to be disappointed. 

Cats will keep roaches away, but only in the same way that you do. When you see a cockroach, you kill it or get rid of it immediately. A cat does the same thing, but that doesn’t mean that it will solve an infestation problem. 

Cats are natural predators, and cockroaches are natural prey for them. When it comes to a roach or two getting into your house, a cat can be an invaluable partner. But if you’re dealing with an infestation, there’s not much your cat can do, any more than you can on your own. 

Besides, you really don’t want your cat eating a whole bunch of cockroaches. They aren’t like cat treats, after all, and although eating a roach or two probably won’t bring any harm to your cat, eating more than that ups the odds of something bad happening. 

What Defines an Infestation?

When females breed, they lay what is called an “oothecae” which contains their eggs. Depending on the cockroach, the oothecae can hold a varying number of eggs. There are four primary species of cockroach that dominate home infestations in the United States: 

  • American Cockroach: Light brown to medium brown, the American Cockroach can lay two oothecae, which can hold up to 16 eggs apiece. The female can lay two oothecae per week.
  • German Cockroach: In terms of infestations, the German cockroach is the worst because of how quickly they mature. The female is mature enough to lay her oothecae in just two weeks, with each oothecae holding up to 50 eggs.
  • Oriental Cockroach: Orientals rarely cause an infestation. They look a lot like black beetles, are the second smallest of the four, and a female will produce around 6 or 7 oothecae over the course of their lifecycle. 
  • Brown-Banded Cockroaches: The smallest of the four, the brown-banded variations are the ones that typically fly, which is more like fluttering wildly in your direction before dropping to the ground. Their females can lay up to 12 oothecae over the course of their lifecycle.

The primary cockroaches that are responsible for infestations are the German and American cockroaches, though the other can do so as well. As you can see, with the American and especially the German, your cat could hardly keep up with a full-fledged infestation.

The female German cockroach can mother up to 35,000 cockroaches in her lifetime and their lifecycle is roughly 2 to 3 years. That’s a lot of cockroaches and a house cat or ten couldn’t hope to keep up with such a massive onslaught. 

Having a roach or two infiltrate your house hardly indicates that you are infested. 

However, if you are infested, especially by the German cockroach, you’ll know it simply because there will be so many that you can’t help but see them all of the time. 

When it comes to these kinds of infestations, your cat will not scare them off, and if your cat’s food is constantly exposed and the litter box is infrequently cared for, it will actually exacerbate the situation. 

Does Your Cat Actually Attract Roaches?

Not necessarily the cat so much as yourself. After all, a cat can’t clean its own litter box and pick up the leftovers of its latest meal. Roaches require and actively seek out three things: food, water, and shelter. 

Of those three things, a dirty litter box and exposed cat food take up the first one, which is food. Not only are they food, but the smell of wet cat food, fresh feces, and urine would make even the pickiest of roaches absolutely salivate in anticipation.

So while your cat doesn’t attract roaches, the situation around it could. 

Is it Safe for Your Cat to Eat Roaches?

Generally speaking, it’s not going to hurt your cat to swallow a few of these critters, as long as the cat chews it up really well. However, the roaches’ exoskeleton is always a potential concern because it can cause a serious amount of irritation in a cat’s throat and intestines. 

Roaches also potentially carry hookworm. When we say potentially, what we mean to say is that 75% of cockroaches have hookworm and will readily pass it on to your cat. If you take care of your cat and regularly give it a dewormer, it won’t be a problem. Otherwise, it could be a big problem as your cat may become ill.  

If they happen to be full of or carrying roach poison on them. It can make your cat sick and give it intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, and several other signs of distress. If your cat does any of these things and doesn’t seem to recover, get it to the vet as soon as possible. 

However, it’s pretty rare that your cat will get ill, much less lethally ill, if it happens to gobble down a couple of cockroaches for dinner one night while you’re sleeping.

Most of the time, your cat will probably not be interested in eating the cockroach. It just wants to chase it down and bat it around. A cockroach—disgusting as they may seem to you—is a source of endless entertainment for cats. 

Should You Let Your Cat Eat Cockroaches?

You probably shouldn’t let your cat eat a roach simply because—although the odds are against it—you don’t want it to cause your cat any undue health concerns. 

Not to mention the fact that cats love to play with their food, especially when it comes to roaches. A cat will knock the roach around, claw it, and slap it until there are pieces of roach all over the place. 

There’s nothing quite like walking into the living room to find roach legs, head, wings, and thorax laying around all over the place. While that’s not necessarily eating the cockroach, it’s still plenty of reason not to allow your cat to go anywhere near one. 

Of course, eating a cockroach also means that pieces of a hard roach exoskeleton will end up in your cat’s feces in the litter box. It’s not a good source of fiber, and those hard pieces can really do your cat more harm than good. 

Ultimately, it’s not a good idea to let your cat eat roaches or even play with them. While you can’t control what your cat does at night while you’re sleeping, you can help to keep it distracted from hunting so lowly and disgusting creatures.

Make sure that your cat has plenty of toys to play with and whatever novel distractions you can come up with to both entertain and wear out your cat so that hopefully, it’s nice and sleepy when Mr. cockroach strolls through the den at two in the morning. 

Final Word

While a lone cat, or maybe two, will scare away a cockroach or two, an infestation is something altogether different. Your cat can do nothing more than keep an infestation seem to not be as bad. However, you really don’t want your cats eating those things anyway.

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