Do Cats Kill & Eat Cockroaches? The Interesting Answer

A cat thinking about eating a cockroach

If you’ve been dealing with cockroaches and have been considering a new pet, it’s natural to wonder if cats eat cockroaches (or at least kill them).

This resource will help you understand how reasonable it is to expect help from your cats when it comes to killing roaches in your home.

Do Cats Kill Cockroaches?

Cats are incredibly astute and dedicated predators. If you have a cat, you’ll witness this trait every time you pull a piece of string or a cat toy across the floor. Pretty much anything that seems to scuttle, slither or fly will stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instinct. 

You can imagine, then, how strongly this predator instinct will kick in when there is something alive in the house. Mice, rats, flies, spiders and cockroaches are just a few of the unwanted guests that will send your cat into total hunting mode. Even the sweetest, most pampered house cats will become focused and accurate hunters when confronted with a live creature in the house.

So do cats kill cockroaches?

Cockroaches are very fast runners. In fact, the average roach is able to run at speeds of up to three miles per hour. However, your cat is well up to the task of catching one. Will cats kill roaches after they’ve caught them? Sometimes they will, and sometimes they won’t.

Often, your cat will just play with the roach by batting it around, licking it and chasing it. More often than not, the roach dies from being knocked around and not from the cat’s intent to kill it. On occasion though, your cat will hunt, pounce and kill the cockroach merely for the sake of killing it. 

Do Cats Eat Roaches?

Do cats usually eat roaches once they have killed them?

Again the answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. In general though, most cats won’t choose to eat cockroaches after a kill.

The hard, tough exoskeleton and the stiff antennae can make cockroaches a less than desirable snack, and many cats won’t bother trying to eat one. However, if your cat is hungry, bored or tends to eat non-traditional food items, then it may decide to eat the cockroach.

Whether or not your cat will eat a roach pretty much depends on the situation and the cat’s mood (they aren’t an animal that eats cockroaches regularly).

Is It Safe For My Cat To Eat A Cockroach?

Many cat owners very naturally worry about whether or not it’s even safe for their cat to eat a cockroach. For the most part, eating a roach or two is not going to be a problem. However, there are some reasons why you may want to discourage your cat from eating cockroaches. Let’s take a brief look at some of them.

First of all, just think about what cockroaches eat and where they tend to hang out. Cockroaches eat garbage, animal droppings, rotten meat and any number of other unsavory items, and they often frequent places like garbage dumps, trash cans and the carcasses of dead animals. It’s no surprise that they are carriers of some very harmful kinds of bacteria. This bacteria may be passed on to your cat if an infected roach is eaten.

One cockroach that has been killed by a cat

Also, due to the tough exoskeleton, cockroaches are not easily digested by cats. Because of this, your cat may vomit up pieces of the cockroach that it can’t digest, and it may suffer from painful bouts of gas. Intestinal blockages can even occur if large pieces of the roach get trapped in the bowel.

In the same way that pieces of plastic or other small items can become choking hazards, the hard outer shell and legs of the cockroach may also cause your cat to choke. The legs and shell of the roach are sharp, and your cat could get cut inside its mouth or in its throat.

Lastly, if you use a pest control company, or if you spray for roaches in and around your house, any roaches in the area may become exposed to the poison. If your cat eats one of these roaches, they could become very sick and may even require medical attention.

Can I Train My Cat To Get Rid Of Roaches?

Cats have been used as pest control helpers for at least one thousand years. Farmers, business owners and homeowners have quite effectively used cats to control populations of mice, rats, gophers and other pests, and this method is still used today in many places around the world.

With this in mind, it would seem logical that having a cat around could potentially help with roaches that live in your home. However, we do not recommend this method for several reasons.

Firstly, while it’s true that cats will catch and occasionally kill cockroaches, it’s not likely that this would happen on a daily basis. Cats, like people, may feel like doing something one day and not the next. If you’re a cat owner, you know that cats can easily become bored with toys, so killing or eating cockroaches might become just another boring activity for them after a while.

Secondly, a cockroach population can grow exponentially in no time. Even several cats in a house would not be able to deal with a large roach infestation. More intense measures are required for a serious roach problem.

Finally, cockroaches are not really ideal as a source of feline nutrition. While it’s true that cats don’t always eat the roaches that they catch, a few will be eaten. This is not good for your cat’s digestion and general health.

Any cats in your home will automatically be intrigued by cockroaches and potentially kill them, so training them to do so is just a waste of time. It’s already in their nature to hunt!

Do Cats Keep Roaches Away?

Will owning a cat keep roaches away? To some extent it may, but cockroaches are masters of hiding and slipping into even the tiniest of cracks and holes.

While the presence of your cat might cause roaches to run and hide, they’ll just come out again once the coast is clear. Having a cat around is definitely not a long term solution to a cockroach problem.

In order for cats to keep roaches away, you’d have to have a whole house full of cats hunting around the clock. We suggest finding alternative solutions such as using roach traps, bait or calling a pest control professional.

Do Cats Attract Roaches?

Cats by themselves don’t attract roaches, but all of the cat items that you have around your house might! Like many cat owners, you might not realize that all of the things you need to keep your pet happy, such as food, litter boxes, bedding and toys. These can all become cockroach magnets in the right (or wrong) situation).

If you leave your food bowls out, or if you give your cat kibbles to munch on during the night, then chances are that cockroaches are going to see this as an all-night buffet. Make sure to keep the area around your cat’s food and water bowls very clean. Always sweep up and throw away any kibbles that are hanging around or that have skidded into odd corners.

As gross as it sounds, cockroaches will not think twice about going into your cat’s litter box. It’s not the litter that attracts roaches, it’s the stuff that’s in the litter box. In nature, cockroaches will feed on piles of animal droppings, so unless you are scrupulous about cleaning the litter box, roaches are going to get in there to eat the cat’s droppings. We know it’s not easy to be constantly cleaning out the box, but you should at least make sure that it’s cleaned about twice a day.

Bags of dry cat food are guaranteed cockroach magnets. Whether you keep the food in your kitchen, pantry or garage, bags that are not sealed very tightly after each use will attract roaches. Your best bet is to pour dry food into a plastic bin that has a tight seal. Always make sure that all kibbles are swept up and thrown out on a daily basis.

Lastly, cat beds, cat trees, hide away cubes and even toys can contain food residue or crumbs from feeding time. If you give them treats away from the food bowl area, any treats left over will also attract roaches.

Cats will be cats, and sometimes they make a mess (even when they’re trying to kill roaches). It’s up to the owners to make sure that all cat-related items are kept clean. This step may go a long way towards keeping cockroaches at bay.

Are Cats A Reliable Cockroach Deterrent?

From all that we talked about above, it’s pretty clear that relying on cats to kill or eat cockroaches is not a viable strategy. While cats will certainly chase down, catch and sometimes kill cockroaches, this behavior isn’t something you should rely on.

If you have outdoor cats, some cockroaches may think twice about getting too near to your house. Realistically though, the chances that your cat will scare off most of the roaches that could potentially get into your house are pretty slim. Roaches, as we mentioned above, run quickly and can hide in the tiniest of cracks, so your cat probably would find it difficult to catch and kill outdoor roaches.

Indoor cats, while more likely to successfully catch and kill roaches than outdoor cats, probably won’t bother hunting them for long with any enthusiasm. Cats get bored pretty easily, and the thrill of catching cockroaches will tend to wear thin. 

Will a cockroach think twice about venturing out of its hiding space if it sees your cat? The answer is that most cockroaches won’t expose themselves to predators, so in a sense, your cat is acting like a temporary deterrent. The problem is that once your cat goes into another room, falls asleep or is just bored, the cockroach will come out and do as it pleases. 

Probably the biggest reason why your cat is not going to be a very good cockroach deterrent is the scope of a typical cockroach infestation. The chances of there being one or two roaches is pretty slim considering that a female lays up to 36 eggs at a time. Even twenty roaches, each laying eggs, will add up to a big problem very quickly. Your cats or cats will not be able to keep up with so many roaches.

If you already have a cat, then don’t expect it to take care of your roach problem. If you are thinking of getting a cat as a pest control animal, we suggest just getting one because you want a forever friend that will bring joy and comfort into your life.


Cats kill roaches and sometimes eat them, but they won’t do this enough for it to make a dent in the cockroach population living in your home.

Instead, stick to some more tried-and-true methods for getting rid of the roaches in your home, and let your cats do their thing.

They’re going to do whatever they want anyway!

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