Bugs are a part of 80% of the world population’s diet, and for the cat population, this percentage rises to a full hundred—all felines enjoy insects. They love chasing them, especially the butterflies. But some insects may send severe chills down the spine of cat owners when they see their pet enjoying them as a meal.
Crickets are among those. But can cats eat crickets?
Let us find out in complete detail.
Can Cats Eat Crickets?
Yes, cats can eat crickets. Unlike scorpions and poisonous spiders, crickets pose no significant risk to cats. Crickets are among those feline prey, which is packed with a plethora of beneficial nutrients.
Cats love chasing and preying on insects, and crickets are no exception—their movements enliven the hunting instincts of cats. Crickets have to offer a host of nutritional benefits to our feline friends, but there are also some health risks.
For cat keepers, it is pertinent to familiarize themselves with the benefits and drawbacks of cats eating crickets.
Benefits of Cats Eating Crickets
Rich in proteins, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B-12, crickets have many health benefits for cats. However, they are quite small, and eating a cricket or two won’t have any significant nutritional benefit for cats. So, cats would have to eat crickets in large numbers to get any significant advantage of the nutrients.
Calcium—Helps Maintain Healthy Bones
Crickets are loaded with calcium. 100 grams of crickets contain about 75.8 mg of calcium. Hence, crickets can help cats maintain healthy bones and improve blood clotting and nerve transmissions.
Calcium in crickets also improves the dental health of cats in two ways: calcium makes the teeth stronger, while the hard outer shell makes sure that no dirt accumulates on the teeth—saving you hundreds of dollars in terms of cat teeth cleaning costs. But this does not mean that your cat won’t need teeth cleaning; you’d still have to brush your cat’s teeth regularly.
Protein—Build Strong Muscles
Though crickets are small, they are full of proteins. Crickets contain a lot more proteins than beef. So, they can effectively replace other meat (if unavailable) to sustain a cat’s health. Moreover, most crickets offer a wide range of proteins, including all nine essential amino acids.
As a good source of healthy proteins, crickets can help cats maintain healthy muscle development and fuel routine bodily processes. It could also help quicken hair growth in cats.
Iron—Improve Red Blood Cells Count
Crickets are rich in iron; they contain much more iron than spinach and slightly less than beef. There is around 12.91mg of iron per 100g of crickets. An iron deficiency causes anemia in cats, leading to smaller red blood cells with a reduced ability to carry oxygen. Eating iron-rich crickets help cats keep iron deficiency at bay and maintain a healthy red blood cell count.
Fibers—Improve Gut Health
Where beef has no fibers to offer, 100g of crickets contain 7g of fibers—thanks to chitin, an amide present in their exoskeleton. With their fiber content, crickets can help promote good gut health in cats.
Did You Know?In the wild, cats do not spare even the fur and bones of their prey. Crickets, being high in fiber content, may come to the rescue of their digestive health as they keep the ingested items moving, reducing the chances of blockage.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids—Promote Fuller Shinier Coat
Crickets are an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, despite the huge difference in their sizes, the quantity of omega-3 fatty acids in both a cricket (2.8g/100g) and a salmon (2-3g/100g).
Due to this property, crickets can play an important role in maintaining cat coat and skin health. Eating crickets could help all cats, especially long-haired cats and those with fluffy tails, maintain fuller and shinier coats that not only help cats to survive winters but also maintain their dazzling looks.
Vitamin B-12—Improves Cognitive Functioning
Compared to other insects of the same type, crickets have the most vitamin B-12. Where 100 grams of crickets have around 2.88 µg of vitamin B-12, mealworms have 1.08 µg, and grasshoppers only 0.84 µg.
Vitamin B-12 is an essential component of cats’ diet; it is imperative for cognitive functioning and efficient digestion in cats. It also helps strengthen the cat’s immunity.
Caution!Cats cannot synthesize their own vitamin B-12; therefore, you must ensure a proper supply of this particular nutrient to your kitty pal.
Risks of Cats Eating Crickets
Crickets do not threaten a cat’s life, but owing to certain possibilities, they may harm the latter’s well-being in several ways.
Since crickets do not have an internal skeleton, their body is supported by an outside shell-like structure. In addition to the support, it also protects from predators. Therefore, the sharp exoskeleton of crickets poses the risk of oral injury to cats.
The common symptoms that something has gone wrong with your cat’s mouth after having a cricket include drooling, bad breath, and oral bleeding.
As described above, crickets offer healthy gut health in cats; however, if your kitty has any preexisting gastrointestinal health problems, crickets may not sit well with your cat’s stomach. If your cat has a sensitive stomach, it would be even worse for her.
The hard exoskeleton and the high number of fibers can challenge her to digest properly. At worst, the hard parts may act as shards in the intestines—tearing and injuring whatever comes their way.
Crickets bite. Given the furry coats of cats, the chances of small crickets biting cats are very slim. But large crickets might be able to bite cats. However, as crickets are not venomous, there is no risk of toxicity; but it may lead to soreness and skin irritations in cats.
Though the chances of parasitic infections in cats due to eating crickets are very slim, the probability is still there. One of the parasites that can be present in a cricket’s body is the stomach worm (physaloptera) which can cause complications in cats on ingestion.
Outdoor cats that feed on different insects, like crickets, are more susceptible to such infestations. If a cat gets these, chronic vomiting may ensue, seriously harming feline health if it persists for a long time.
Pesticides applied to crops can get on the body of crickets too. Besides, crickets may also ingest parasites by feeding on plant leaves that were sprayed with pesticides. Unfortunately, such chemicals are lethal to our feline pals. So, eating a cricket that was exposed to insecticides could cause serious health issues in cats and may even lead to death. This is why cat owners are strongly advised to thoroughly wash the human foods they plan to feed their cats.
Do Cats Like Eating Crickets?
Cats love chasing and preying on crickets. Containing all nine essential amino acids, crickets are highly palatable for cats.
Though crickets are not a part of their natural diet, the strong hunting instincts of cats interest them in crickets. Furthermore, since crickets are safe for feline consumption and provide healthy nutrition, they are among the top items on the menus of cats in the wild.
How Many Crickets Can Cats Eat?
There is no hard and fast rule to that. In general, cats can have as many crickets as they can until she feels satisfied. However, the point to be noted is that you must not shift your cat’s diet entirely on these bugs, as doing so can cause a deficiency of certain nutrients, severely affecting their health.
Dos and Don’ts of Cats Eating Crickets
What to Do if a Cat Goes Unwell After Eating Crickets?
If you follow the precautions discussed above, your cat must not fall victim to any complications. However, if your cat becomes unwell after consuming cricket, monitor her closely. The signs of sickness may subside within 24 to 48 hours. If the signs of sickness persist beyond that, you should take your cat to a vet.
Also, note that your cat might have eaten something else (poisonous), which seemed like cricket to you. In this case, you should observe your cat closely and immediately take her to a vet if your cat is exhibiting the following symptoms:
Conclusion: Can Cats Eat Crickets?
Yes, cats can eat crickets—of all types and sizes. They are very nutritious for cats and are dense in proteins, calcium, and iron. But their hard shells, risk of parasite infestation, and insecticide toxicity are a cause of concern. So, if you see any complications, contact the vet ASAP.