Is It Dangerous for a Cat to Eat Roaches?

He'll be on the prowl if he knows roaches are nearby.
He'll be on the prowl if he knows roaches are nearby. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Crouched on the ground with his ears back, his tail swaying from side to side and his eyes glued to the corner, is stalking his prey. It's a roach. You’ll see him bat at it, toss it up in the air and possibly eat it. While household bugs are typically not poisonous, roaches can be dangerous nonetheless. To be on the safe side, keep your cat away from any roaches that lurk around.

Choking and Digestive Hazards

Bigger cockroaches and other types of large bugs have hard skeletons on the outside of their bodies. When Teddy starts chomping away on the roach, chunks of that exoskeleton could get lodged in his throat. If the cat starts coughing or presses his chin against the ground, he’s signaling that he’s in distress; he may have part of the roach stuck in his throat. At this point remain calm and look in his mouth to see if you notice the blockage. Don’t attempt to reach down his throat to pull out the obstruction – you could wind up pushing it down further. Even if the cat manages to swallow some of the crusty skeletal fragments, his fragile digestive tract will have difficulty passing them. He could wind up with a blockage in his gut. Get him to the vet immediately.

Poisonous Varieties

More than 4,000 types of roaches exist, so figuring out which types live in your neighborhood can be challenging. Roaches aren’t generally poisonous. However, without knowing which kind of roach it is or if it is possibly a different type of bug that looks like a roach -- like a poisonous beetle -- the insect may be harmful to your pet. If you can, catch one and take it to your vet or local pest control company to see if it’s one of the few poisonous varieties.

Bait Trap Considerations

You may not think of cockroaches bringing poison to your cat, but it can happen. When roaches go through bait traps, they take some poison back to their nests. If your fur ball snacks on a roach carrying bait, the poison winds up in Teddy’s belly. Even if you don’t have roach bait traps in your home, your neighbor may have them in his garage. That's close enough to affect your cat, particularly if the cat goes outside. Roaches can just as well carry poison to your house from the neighbor's.

Other Poison Concerns

Roaches are free to travel as they please. They walk through puddles of antifreeze, roam through garbage cans and trudge through oily spots on driveways. A bunch caustic substances stick to their legs; poor little Teddy will ingest them when he gnaws on the roach. While the roach itself isn’t poisonous, the gunk stuck to his legs can harm your beloved feline.

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