Domestic cats eat bugs because insects are one of the prey items that they hunt. They are on the agenda, part of a domestic cat’s list of creatures to hunt. Obviously insects are down the list of prey items to hunt but when prey is lean as it is in the home the cat will accept bugs as prey.
Domestic cats are ‘versatile generalists in terms of what they eat’ or to put it another way they eat a lot of different creatures. They readily switch prey depending on availability.
The top or preferred prey items are small mammals mainly rodents, primarily mainly mice (depending on availability). Rabbits are near the maximum size for domestic cat prey.
In general, birds do not figure prominently in cat diets. In Eastern Karakum, Turkmenistan, 13 percent of the domestic cat’s wild ancestor, the African-Asian wild cat, ate insects. This is more frequent than for hares or squirrels or all birds except pheasants.
To recap: cats eat bugs because they are prey. Some insects are poisonous to cats. I don’t think the domestic cat knows which ones are poisonous 😉 .
The other day my cat was messing around on the flat roof section of my house. It had been warm that day and I wondered what he was doing. I raced upstairs to take a look and saw him chasing a a flying bug. It was quite large and he was having great fun. After he’d played with it for a while he ate it. His behaviour mirrored that of a wild cat. He looked like a wild cat at that moment. He was a wild cat. Sometimes it can take a while for him to resume his domestic cat persona when he comes home.
People ask whether insects are poisonous to cats. Bees and wasps can sting and can be a problem. There’ll be other insects in some countries which can hurt but in the UK I don’t know of insects which are poisonous to cats. My cats have always eaten insects and no problems. For instance, flies are fine but if someone has sprayed a fly and it has died and is then eaten, is it toxic to a cat? Well, it might be because insecticide sprays are poisonous to people and animals. Apparently the tiger moth can be toxic.
The quote is from Wild Cats of the World.
P.S. This article has been republished from 2016.