Insects can be troublesome and annoying pests. You’ve probably seen your cat chase down a bug or two, and maybe he has even munched on one. Considering how frightening a cat must be to a tiny bug, it would make sense if cats repelled bugs. However, that is not the case.
Cats do not deter bugs from entering your home; however, they may reduce the number of bugs in your home by hunting them. If you want to know more about a cat’s role in minimizing your home’s insect population, as well as the safety concerns associated with it, read on.
Cats May Minimize the Insect Population in Your Home
Cats have excellent hunting skills. If an insect has invaded your home, your cat will probably put those skills to the test. Your cat will likely bat a bug around for a while before eventually eating it. By hunting and eliminating any bugs that cross his path, your cat can reduce the number of insects crawling around your house. Even if he is unable to capture it and eat it, he is at least alerting you of the pest’s presence so you can toss it back outside.
Your cat is especially helpful for cutting down on bugs because he doesn’t need to be trained to do it. Your cat’s prey drive will kick in when he sees a tiny intruder, encouraging him to go after any unwanted visitors.
So, while cats do not repel insects, they do a great job of keeping their numbers down.
Is it Safe for Cats to Eat Bugs?
Just because cats can hunt and eat bugs doesn’t always mean they should.
Some bugs are harmless for your cat to eat, such as flies, gnats, moths, and butterflies. Insects with hard exoskeletons (such as beetles) may be considered non-toxic, but their rigid covering may cause gastrointestinal upset. This is mostly a concern when cats overindulge.
Stinging insects can cause problems for your cat. Most injuries are likely to be sustained during the hunt, when the insect may sting to fight back. This can cause swelling and pain, and if your cat licks the injury too much, it could cause an infection.
Spiders are one of the biggest concerns when considering cat safety. Some spiders are safe to eat, while others can be dangerous. Venomous spiders, like stinging insects, are more likely to attack when your cat is hunting them. The brown recluse, hobo spider, and black widow are the most dangerous arachnids (excluding ticks) in the United States for cats and humans.
Signs of a Venomous Spider Bite
A bite from a black widow, brown recluse, or hobo spider can lead to death.
A black widow’s bite will affect the nervous system, leading to pain, staggering, excessive drooling, and vomiting. Black widow bites can be difficult to spot, but if you suspect your cat may have been bitten, reach out to your vet immediately.
The brown recluse’s bite is much easier to spot. If left untreated, it can cause necrosis in your cat, much like the hobo spider’s bite. If the bite is treated promptly, the complications should be minimal.
Other signs of a spider bite include shaking, diarrhea, weakness, bleeding from the bite, and fever. If a spider has bitten your cat, you should not try to treat it at home. You should get in contact with your vet right away to ensure that the best plan of treatment is taken for your cat.
Are Dogs Better at Keeping Bugs Away?
Dogs are excellent at alerting their owners of pest problems; however, they are less likely to hunt bugs than cats are. Cats are one of the best pets for insect management because they are capable and often eager to hunt insects. Although cats do not repel insects, they are your best pet option for bug control.
Cats are great at reducing the insect population in your home, even if bugs are not repelled by them. Keep an eye out for any insects that might cause trouble for your cat, such as stinging bugs and spiders, and try to get rid of them safely. Together, you and your cat can make a great insect-hunting team!
Featured Image Credit: Dani Daniar, Shutterstock