It is no secret that cats and dogs are vastly different from each other, with their individual personalities and behaviors making them stand apart. While dogs have been domesticated and are often referred to as “man’s best friend,” the relationship between cats and humans is a bit more complicated. Even though cats have agreed to live with us and help control rodent populations, they tend to keep to themselves and can be aloof.
When it comes to visual representations of these animals, dogs are often portrayed as loyal companions in photographs and art, while cats are often depicted as sneaky predators lurking just beneath the surface. Despite being domesticated, cats retain their natural instincts and tendencies. Whether they are crouched in a corner waiting to pounce on unsuspecting feet or bringing their outdoor kills to the doorstep, cats maintain a little bit of wildness no matter how cute they may appear.
You might be interested : 7 Cat Breeds That Look Like Wild Animals
Cats are natural hunters and derive great pleasure from stalking, chasing, and catching prey. This behavior is not limited to their survival in the wild; even indoor cats, who have their food provided, will still exhibit this behavior. Since there are no wild animals indoors to catch, many cats will turn their attention to bugs as a substitute and some even eat them.
Cats are known for their love of hunting and chasing insects. While cat toys like a feather tied to a stick or a ball with a bell inside might keep them occupied for a while, nothing satisfies their inner predator like a living creature that is trying to preserve its life. However, can cats eat bugs, is this behavior harmful to a cat’s health?
Why do cats hunt insects ?
According to Dr. Meghan Herron, a veterinarian and clinical assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Ohio State University, hunting for insects has little to do with hunger. Cats require a large amount of protein to survive, and they get it primarily from animal sources. The term “obligate carnivore” refers to animals that must eat animal sources of protein to survive, and cats are one of them.
They get their protein by hunting other animals like mice, rats, birds, rabbits, and even reptiles. While small numbers of insects don’t provide a major protein source, cats still love hunting them.
Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian in Fort Collins, CO, says that as long as cats are offered an adequate amount of quality, low-carbohydrate, high-protein cat food, they should be getting all the protein they need. Therefore, it seems that the bug hunting phenomenon is more related to behavior than biology.
Dr. Herron believes that cats’ desire to hunt and practice predatory behavior through play is still quite active in domestic cats. Since they are not as well-domesticated as their canine counterparts, their innate drive to chase is still quite strong. As bugs are quickly moving small things, cats’ brains are programmed to chase and hunt them.
Is it safe for cats to eat bugs
Despite cats’ love for hunting insects, many pet owners worry about whether this behavior can make their cats sick. While some bugs can be harmful, such as venomous spiders or fireflies, most insects are not toxic to cats. In fact, many insects are a good source of nutrition and protein for cats. However, it is still essential to keep an eye on your cat’s hunting behavior and seek veterinary care if you suspect they have eaten something harmful.
While hunting insects may be a fun and instinctual behavior for cats, pet owners may wonder whether this practice can be harmful to their feline companions. According to Dr. Katie Grzyb, a veterinarian, internal parasites are not a significant concern with ingestion of insects, and the danger from eating bugs is very small. However, some types of insects can carry parasites that may infect cats, such as physaloptera, also known as stomach worm, but such cases are rare.
On the other hand, some types of insects can become a problem when they infest or live on the coat of a feline. Fleas, for example, can carry tapeworms or make cats anemic, while ticks can transmit several diseases to animals and people. Moreover, some bugs, such as bees and spiders, can cause allergic reactions, localized or anaphylactic, which may require treatment by a veterinarian.
Aside from parasitic infections and allergic reactions, insects may also have an irritant effect on the gastrointestinal tract of cats, resulting in vomiting and/or diarrhea. While these symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own within a day or two, severe or persistent cases may require veterinary attention.
Overall, while bug hunting is a natural behavior for cats, pet owners should monitor their feline companions for any signs of illness or infestation after such activity. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian can also help detect and treat any health issues that may arise from insect encounters.
Many pet owners rely on insecticides to combat bugs that may venture inside their homes. However, concerns may arise about the potential harm to their cats if they were to eat a poisoned insect. Dr. Grzyb, a veterinarian, reassures that in most cases, the amount of toxin in dying bugs is so low that it is unlikely to cause any side effects in pets. Nevertheless, direct contact with insecticides can pose a different and more serious risk to cats.
It is crucial for pet owners to conduct research and carefully read the labels of any chemicals, including insecticides, used in and around their homes. Some insecticides may contain pyrethroids, which can cause severe tremors, elevated temperature, and seizures in felines, as noted by Dr. Grzyb. On the other hand, ingestion of roach bait, for example, is typically associated with mild gastrointestinal signs in cats, and serious side effects are rare.
If an owner suspects that their cat has ingested an insecticide, it is recommended to contact their local veterinarian or a Poison Control Hotline, such as the ASPCA, for guidance. Providing as much information as possible, such as the active ingredients listed on the product label, can be helpful in assessing the situation and determining appropriate actions. Ensuring the safety of cats when using insecticides or any chemicals is paramount, and seeking professional advice in case of ingestion is prudent.
According to Dr. Grzyb, cats do use insects as a substitute for hunting. This behavior is more common in kittens because they are more playful. However, even adult cats may engage in bug-hunting as a way to pass the time. Although it may seem like they are hunting for food, cats often do not actually eat the bugs they catch.
Instead, they play with them, bat them around, and may even carry them in their mouths. This behavior is similar to the way cats would hunt small prey in the wild. So, while bug-hunting may not provide much nutrition for cats, it is still an instinctual behavior that allows them to stay wild-at-heart and have fun. It is important to note that some cats may not be interested in bug-hunting at all, as individual cats have their own unique personalities and preferences.