Cats are very entertaining creatures to observe, with a whole host of behaviors that can be both amusing and perplexing. Chasing bugs is a common activity among felines, and it is one that makes cat owners ask questions about what may be going in the minds of their animal companions. By taking a closer look at the inner world of feline mind, you can begin to understand this unusual behavior.

Do Cats Kill Bugs? 

You may find your cat chasing a bug around an area of the house. The cat may pounce on it, bat it around with its paw and generally seem to treat it like it would a small rodent or other type of prey. Usually, the feline will continue this behavior until their prey stops moving.

Your cat may also do this to any stray bug they find inside or outside the home. But whether they actually mean to kill it because it is an unwanted intruder in the house is unlikely. The cat is more likely to be simply following an instinct to hunt a fast-moving prey that shows up in its environment.

Does Killing Bugs Mean My Cat Is Hungry?

Cats that are kept as animal companions generally get plenty to eat. In fact, veterinarians often warn against the habit of overfeeding pets, which can cause obesity that contributes to a number of health problems in animals. When a cat chases and captures a bug, it’s unlikely to be because of hunger.

The cat can always stroll over to their food bowl for a quick snack. Something else is at work when a cat is compelled to hunt and kill a bug that wanders into their quarters. Researchers call this activity “surplus killing” that may involve storing killed prey for later consumption.

Are Cats Acting By Instinct When They Kill Bugs?

Felines are predators that depend on the meat they catch for protein that fuels their bodies and keeps them healthy. They have been designed by nature to kill for their food, and have all the skills and instincts needed to be successful at this activity.

They have precise vision, sharp hearing, lightning reflexes and limber muscles to pounce, catch and kill their prey. The hunting instinct varies from one cat to another. Some cats will only glance at a moving creature with some interest, while others will initiate their hunting skills with great determination.

Does Hunting Bugs Keep Cats Instincts Tuned?

Cats that are kept as pets spend most of their time sleeping, looking out the window and grooming themselves. There’s not much to engage their interest, especially when their owners are away from home during the day. Normally, domesticated cats don’t have much opportunity to exercise their deep-seated need to stalk and capture prey, so they often make the most of whatever “prey” they can find in their environment.

You may notice your cat attacks your feet as you walk by, or you will find them suddenly attacking some shiny object in your hand. This activity is your cat tuning into a deep, predatory instinct. Even though you may put out bowls full of food for them, they are still predators that are driven to catch their prey, at heart.

What Are Cats’ Usual Prey?

In the wild, cats will hunt and eat a wide variety of small prey. They generally feed on rodents, small rabbits and birds. But they will also hunt reptiles and insects. A cat might even try to tackle a snake of considerable size because of the movements it makes as it moves along the ground. Depending on their size, their level of hunger and their drive to hunt, cats will stalk and kill almost any small creature.

Why Would A Bug Be Acceptable Prey For A Cat?

A bored cat might find any bug that strays into its field of vision as prey. Bugs are often fast moving and catch the cat’s eye. Even slow-moving bugs can catch a cat’s attention. They are not normally found inside the house, and that makes them stand out in the indoor environment. Although a bug may not mean “food” for a cat, it does mean an opportunity to use those finely-tuned hunting instincts.

Do Cats Keep Bugs Away? 

If you’re hoping to use your cat as a natural bug repellent, you may be disappointed. Cats differ in their personalities and their need to use their predatory instinct. Some will routinely go after bugs that wander into the house, while other cats will have no interest in them at all. Some cats will pursue flying insects like a wasp or moth, but others will just look at it with interest or ignore them. Insects are not attuned to the creatures that are in their vicinity, so they will not care if they wander into an area where a cat lives.

Is It Okay For Cats To Eat Bugs? 

Generally, cats won’t be harmed by eating a bug they’ve captured in the house or yard.  Of course, people use a great number of insecticides to keep bugs from getting inside the house, and this could set up a situation where a slow-moving bug that has been affected by a poisonous chemical becomes the prey of your pet. But this situation would normally involve a very small amount of the chemical for the cat and would likely only cause an upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea. It is unlikely that the cat would become seriously ill.

What Happens If A Cat Eats A Bug? 

If you know your cat is a mighty hunter that tracks and kills bugs, you may be concerned about the affect of this behavior on his or her health. But stalking, catching and even eating a bug pose little danger for a cat. The insect will just pass through the cat’s digestive system. However, you should keep your cat away from poisonous insects.

Will Common Insects Found in the Home Hurt My Cat?

Cats will often try to bring down flying insects in the home, because their movement is so attractive to them. But a cat may also go after a spider, a cockroach or a cricket that finds its way indoors. Some areas of the United States and in the world have very large insects. These are commonly found in the environment. Insects of this size often trigger the hunting instinct in cats, because they are comparable in size to the prey the cat normally hunts.

Do Some Bugs Pose A Danger For Cats?

Though not actually a bug, scorpions can be a hazard to cats. If they sting the animal and an allergic reaction occurs, the encounter could be fatal. Some poisonous spiders can also pose a danger to cats. If you find your cat playing with these creatures, it’s best to remove the cat from the area and dispose of the scorpion or spider.

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.