My Cat Ate a Cockroach Will He Get Sick? (Reviewed by Vet)

Reviewed By Evie Moloney, RCVS •  Updated: 03/04/23 •  3 min read
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Cat Ate a Cockroach

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Most people are familiar with cockroaches. They scurry around in infested buildings, coming out at night and then disappearing during the day. While we view these insects as pests, cats may see cockroaches as something fun to play with, or even eat!

Why Do Cats Eat Cockroaches?

Cats are carnivores and they still carry the instincts inherited from their wild ancestors. Hunting was a way to survive. While most cats that live in a comfortable home don’t have to hunt to stay alive, they still carry the instinct to hunt and kill.

Many cats enjoy playing with all types of insects including cockroaches. Think of it from a cat’s perspective. They see something small and fast running across the floor. Why not have fun with it?

It is strongly recommended to contact a Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian.

Are Cockroaches Bad for Cats to Eat?  

Cockroaches by themselves are not toxic to cats. So, if your fur baby happens to catch and eat one once in a while, chances are he will be OK.

However, some cats may have trouble with the bug’s exoskeleton. This is a piece of hard shell that keeps the insects safe. You could think of this as similar to armor. The shell, when crushed, can break into small, sharp pieces. These can then either cause a choking hazard or cause trouble in the cat’s digestive system.

The cockroach’s shell can also pose another major health issue. It’s entirely possible a large piece of the shell could become lodged in the cat’s intestine, causing a bowel obstruction. In that case, you may notice these symptoms:

If you notice these symptoms, be sure to call the vet immediately. This could be a life-threatening medical emergency. If you think your cat has eaten cockroaches, it is recommended to call your veterinary clinic for individual advice for your pet.

Another problem with cockroaches is that they may have been exposed to pesticides. You may notice these symptoms if your cat’s eaten a poisoned cockroach:

If you notice these symptoms, then it’s time to call the vet immediately. This may be a medical emergency. It is important to remember that these symptoms are not always seen straight away after your cat has eaten an infected cockroach. Therefore, if you have any suspicion that your cat may have eaten a poisoned cockroach, phone your veterinary clinic for individual advice.

For the most part, eating a cockroach once in a while shouldn’t cause a problem for your cat. But the sooner your pet receives individual veterinary advice for eating cockroaches, the better chance they have of making a full recovery.

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Evie Moloney, RCVS

This article has been reviewed and approved by an independent Veterinarian: Evie is a vet surgeon who graduated from the University College Dublin, which is the only university offering the veterinary medicine degree in Ireland. She really enjoys surgery and has also worked as an emergency and critical care vet. She is passionate about sharing education about preventative health care for pets, especially the importance of regular dog and cat teeth brushing at home. She also enjoys helping owners find practical solutions for keeping pets as comfortable as possible while living with conditions such as arthritis. When not working, she enjoys hiking and swimming.

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