Cat Food and Hydration

Are Crickets Safe For Cats To Eat?

Cats love to hunt moving things. And it’s not just mice and birds that are on the menu – cats will chase a cricket if they find one. But something most cat owners would want to know is, are crickets toxic to cats if eaten?

Crickets are non-toxic and don’t poison cats. In fact, they’re a good source of protein, iron, vitamin B-12, and omega fatty acids. In rare cases, cats can develop oral irritation after eating a cricket. There’s also a chance they could ingest a harmful parasite that causes gastrointestinal problems, but this is rare. Not all cats eat crickets – some simply enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Some cats will eat crickets if they catch hold of one, but not all do. It all depends on your cat’s hunting instincts and how hungry it is feeling.

Do Cats Eat Crickets?

In the wild, crickets are more likely to become a staple part of a cat’s diet. They’re high in protein and provide a range of essential nutrients in the absence of small rodents and birds.

In some corners of the world where there are many grassy areas for cats to hunt in, crickets are in abundance. This enables cats to fulfill their nutritional needs until they can find something more suitable to eat.

Pet cats are more likely to eat crickets out of curiosity. The process of chasing and catching crickets is fun for many, and they reward themselves by eating the cricket.

However, not all cats eat crickets. Some simply enjoy the chase and are happy enough to catch the insect. They may let the insect go once caught, or they may kill it and leave it to rot.

Are Crickets Good For Cats?

All crickets, including black crickets, camel crickets, and spider crickets, aren’t considered poisonous to cats.

While crickets aren’t the most obvious feline food choice, they’re surprisingly high in a range of nutrients that cats need to remain healthy.

Not only that, but it could also be argued that leaving cats to catch and kill crickets is more sustainable and environmentally-friendly than feeding processed cat food, which requires extensive processing. Here are some of the best cat health benefits crickets provide:

are crickets bad for cats?

Protein

As described by Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, cats are obligate carnivores that are able to maintain their normal body weight by taking small meals and adjusting their nutritional intake according to the energy density of foods available.

While a small number of crickets won’t provide the amount of protein a cat needs, they can help sustain felines when their preferred protein sources aren’t available. 

Crickets are a complete protein source with all 11 essential amino acids for cats. They also contain twice as much protein as ground beef.

Crickets are also free-from antibiotics, GMOs, and heavy metals. They also have constant access to food and water, meaning they remain healthy until they die. When compared to unhealthy farm-grown meat, crickets can sometimes be a better option.

Iron

Crickets contain over twice as much iron as spinach. While cats don’t eat spinach, they often lack the iron levels needed to sustain them, developing deficiencies. Iron is essential for:

  • Healthy red blood cells
  • Carrying oxygen through the body
  • Removing carbon dioxide

Signs of an iron deficiency include:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark stools
  • Sickness
  • Decreased growth rate
  • Depression
  • Rapid breathing

Cats get all the iron they need through their diet, so crickets can make a healthy addition to boost the body’s iron and ensure they remain at a safe level.

Vitamin B12

Crickets are rich in vitamin B12. A report published by Food Chemistry explains that there is 2.88 µg of vitamin B-12 in every 100 g of cricket. This compares to:

Vitamin B12 is essential within a cat’s diet because it helps to keep its immune system, digestive system, digestive tract, and cognitive function working properly. B12 is also essential for efficient digestion.

Cats can’t produce their own B12, so they rely on their diet to provide it. Most commercial foods have plenty of B12, but wild cats can increase their levels by eating crickets.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Crickets have nearly the same amounts of omega-3 as salmon. Salmon contains 2-3 per 100g, whereas 100g of crickets has 2.8g of omega-3.

In cats, omega-3 fatty acids promote healthy skin due to their anti-inflammatory properties. They also give cats a healthier, shinier coat by improving the hair follicles’ health. It can help prevent shedding, which, in turn, stops hairballs from forming too quickly.

Omega-3 also helps to improve a cat’s joint function by decreasing inflammation. This is helpful to cats suffering from arthritis.

Calcium

Crickets are surprisingly high in calcium. Calcium is considered an essential nutrient for cats, so it must feature somehow in your feline’s diet. Cats require 0.6% of their total diet to be calcium, which should also be balanced out with phosphorous.

The primary sources of calcium for cats are bones, dairy, organ tissues, meat, and legume plants. However, crickets can also make an excellent addition to the diet to boost calcium levels.

Diets lacking in calcium often lead to deficiencies, which can cause kidney failure. Symptoms of a calcium deficiency include:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Restlessness
  • Stiffness
  • Lethargy
  • Panting
  • Convulsions
  • Limping
  • Increased injuries

Without enough calcium in the diet, rickets can develop, which is when a cat’s bones become brittle, soft, and fragile. This makes jumping injuries more likely to occur.

Gut Health

A cricket’s exoskeleton is made of chitin, which is an excellent source of prebiotic fiber that helps to keep a cat’s digestive system healthy and working efficiently.

Fiber isn’t usually a natural mineral in protein, but cricket protein is packed with it. In the wild, cats eat all parts of their prey, including the fur and bones. These parts are indigestible and act as fiber as they work their way through the body.

When cats don’t hunt and eat prey in captivity, they rely on fiber within their everyday diet.

For both wild and domestic cats, crickets can help promote good gut health and ensure that hairballs and feces pass through the digestive system, reducing the chance of blockages and constipation. Similarly, fiber helps to prevent diarrhea as it bulks out the feces.

Are Crickets Bad For Cats?

As already mentioned, crickets aren’t toxic when eaten by cats. Cats can’t get poisoned from eating a cricket, but they may vomit if they don’t like the taste. This is also sometimes a natural reaction to eating one.

However, there are a few risks that come with eating crickets. They’re relatively rare, but if your cat gets sick after eating a cricket, your cat might be suffering from one of the following problems:

Oral Irritation

A cricket’s exoskeleton can cause oral irritation after being chewed. The exoskeleton is designed to be hard to protect the insect from predators. It also acts as the cricket’s skeleton as they don’t have a backbone.

As a result, while crunching through the hard shell, cats may cut their mouths on sharp pieces of the exoskeleton.

In serious cases, the cat’s mouth becomes inflamed and sore. It may also prevent the cat from eating, so you may also notice your pet loses weight while it’s waiting for its mouth to heal. Other symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Bleeding gums
  • Excessive swallowing
  • Pawing at the face
  • Teeth chattering

While your cat’s mouth should heal on its own, it’s a good idea to get it seen by a vet so that they can administer pain relief.

Gastrointestinal Upset

Cats with a sensitive stomach may not take too well to eating a cricket, especially if it’s for the first time. Food intolerances or allergies may make your cat feel sick.  Signs of gastrointestinal upset include:

  • Vomiting
  • Licking lips
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding away

If your cat becomes unwell 24-48 hours after eating a cricket, the insect has likely made your cat sick.

Parasites

Internal parasites are unlikely when consuming crickets, especially in small quantities. However, it’s important to understand that some parasites can be found in crickets’ bodies and cause cats harm.

One of them is Physaloptera, otherwise known as stomach worm. They’re occasionally found in a cat’s stomach and are between 1-4 inches long.

According to Vet Stream, outdoor cats that eat crickets, beetles, cockroaches, snakes, frogs, or mice are most likely to ingest stomach worms.

When the parasite is in a cat’s stomach, it attaches to the host’s gastric or duodenal mucosa and lays eggs in around 56 to 83 days. The eggs are exited from the body through a cat’s feces.

While in the body, the parasite feeds off the affected cat’s blood and tissue components. Some worms cause diarrhea, while others cause anemia. It all depends on where the parasite has infected inside the body. Fecal tests can confirm if your cat is suffering from the parasite.

To prevent nasty parasites from causing havoc inside your cat’s body, ensure your cat is on a regular de-worming program, which will kill any unwanted parasites and prevent them from making the cat sick.

Insecticides

Depending on where crickets live, there’s a chance they could be exposed to pesticides. They may also ingest pesticides through the plants and greens they eat.

As a result, it’s possible that cats could ingest the pesticides that have come into contact with the cricket. Pesticides are lethal to cats, especially in the high doses that farmers use to protect their crops.

All cats will display different symptoms after having consumed pesticides, but the most common include:

  • Severe vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Incoordination and unsteadiness
  • Labored breathing
  • Twitching
  • Head tilt
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal pain
  • Watery eyes
  • Dilated pupils

Cats with pesticide poisoning will need immediate treatment to prevent them from dying.

If you haven’t seen your cat eating a cricket, it can be hard to diagnose. However, a vet will ask you a series of questions about your cat’s health history and run some tests.

In the most severe cases, cats could be left with long-term damage, so don’t leave your pet to get better on its own as it will only become more unwell.

Do Cats Hunt Crickets?

Cats are natural hunters, and their brains are hard-wired to chase anything that’s moving. Even in domestic cats, this predatory behavior still exists.

When cats see things moving, their first instinct is to give chase. Domestic cats don’t need to hunt to stay alive as they have an abundance of food at home. As a result, they’ve evolved to hunt for sport rather than food.

Crickets also provide a good test for cats, as they’re small and can hide in between grass and shrubs. Cat’s don’t give up easily and will spend hours waiting for the opportune moment to catch them.

Cats have also always made useful pest controllers on farms and industrial sites. While rodents, birds, and small rabbits are the most common types of pests, crickets destroy crops, and cats that have been trained for pest control will use their hunting skills to eliminate them.

are crickets toxic to cats?

Do Cats Keep Crickets Away?

Similar to hunting crickets, most cats deal with cricket infestations within the home. They can’t resist the fun game and will kill any cricket they find.

However, the difficulty for cats is catching them. Crickets are small and fast and can hide in the smallest corners of the home.

As a result, you’ll need to make sure that your cat doesn’t become too obsessed with catching crickets. It’s a good idea to distract your cat with its favorite treats and toys if this happens.

Eventually, most crickets learn that a predator lives inside the home and will avoid the house altogether.

Do Crickets Bite Cats?

Crickets have two multipurpose jaws that they are able to bite with. However, their mouths aren’t very strong, so they rarely puncture or dig into the skin. Also, cats are protected by their fur.

Locusts, which are a type of cricket, have the biggest potential to penetrate the skin. When they bite, it can sting, and cats can develop a red, itchy sore from it. As a rule of thumb, larger crickets tend to bite more painfully.

If the mouth does manage to puncture the skin, the cat is at risk of painful sores forming. Also, depending on where the bite is, it can become infected with harmful bacteria, especially if the cat walks through dirty soil. Luckily, a cricket bite doesn’t transmit any painful diseases.

Crickets rarely cause any harm and are considered safe for cats to eat. They can even improve a cat’s health due to all the essential nutrients.