Can Cats Eat Flies?: Health Benefits and Risks Associated With Eating Flies
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Can cats eat flies? Generally, eating flies won’t hurt your pet, and there are plenty of good reasons to let your cats hunt flies. From exercise to pest control, indulging your feline’s instincts makes life more enjoyable for them.
If you’ve ever watched a lioness stalk her prey, you’ve likely noticed that there is little difference between her and your feline companion. Maybe you’ve been treated to this impressive display by watching your own cat hunt birds, mice, and even insects, including flies. If this is a behavior your cat exhibits, you may have asked yourself, “can cats eat flies?”
My own cats, two 6-month-old kittens, are crazy about honing their hunting skills. They love going after all types of insects, so I’ve researched whether it’s safe for cats to eat flies and if it’s beneficial when they do.
Can Cats Eat Flies?
Cats often can and will eat flies. In fact, they will eat many insects, including spiders, grasshoppers, moths, and most other creatures that trigger their hunting instincts. However, you will want to be cautious and not allow your cat to overindulge. Some cats may also have stomachs that are more sensitive than others. There are also some slight risks, although they are rare.
Some flies have the potential to carry pathogens and, depending on where you live, may also be covered in pesticides. Most of the time, the insects are so small that tiny amounts won’t hurt your cat, but sometimes it’s best to play it safe. We’ll go over these in more detail.
Of course, every cat is different, and some may lose interest faster than others. Between my two kittens, one will follow an insect until she catches and kills it, while the other will pursue it only for a few minutes.
For the most part, I allow them the freedom to hunt insects as much or as little as they want. It usually takes them quite a while to catch one, so I know they aren’t ingesting them too often. If I notice them tackling an insect within easy reach or if it looks suspicious, I will investigate further before letting them have their fill.
The Benefits of Cats Eating Flies
Felines are carnivores, which means they have the instinct to stalk and consume prey. Indulging this behavior has some drawbacks, but for most cats, it serves an excellent purpose in their life.
Like all other animals, cats need to engage with the world around them to have a fulfilling existence. When following an insect such as a fly or spider, you might notice your cat make strange chittering noises or that their ears and whiskers go haywire. This is a sure sign that the hunt captivates them.
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Besides mental stimulation, hunting flies provides physical exercise as well. Most cats will find flies and other insects interesting enough to pursue a little while, at least. This is an excellent opportunity for your cat to run, jump, and practice coordination.
It may even be reasonable pest control to let your cat hunt naturally. Owners often take in feral cats on farms and other large properties to keep vermin at bay. However, you can’t rely solely on a domesticated house cat to control insect populations. If you have an infestation, you’ll need to call a specialist.
Flies are also a good source of protein. This makes them a good source of nutrition if you have a picky eater.
Health Risks Associated With Eating Flies
As I’ve mentioned, as long as your cat isn’t becoming overly dependent on insects as a food source, you shouldn’t need to worry if they eat a fly or two. There are, however, some circumstances in which you may want to limit your cat’s consumption.
If your feline consumes an infected fly, that parasite or bacteria could be passed onto your cat. Most often, these can cause symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. If you notice your cat acting strangely, throwing up, or spending a lot of time at the litter box, talk to your vet.
There is some risk your cat will consume pesticides if the flies come from an area that has been treated. It’s important not to let your cat eat insects outside or in unfamiliar territories. If you notice your cat has diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or lost coordination, they may have pesticide poisoning. Call your vet right away if you notice the symptoms.
Some flies, such as deer and horseflies bite and should be avoided by your cat. Bites from flies can be itchy, bothersome, and possibly result in infection. Fly bites are fairly rare for cats as most have thick fur which will stop flies from biting them. If your cat has bites, it’s more likely to be as a result of fleas.
Will Eating Flies Give a Cat Worms?
As mentioned, flies can carry parasites, including worms. Some of the most common worms passed from fly to feline are the tapeworm and physaloptera, to name a few.
Both of these worms reside in the digestive tract and can wreak havoc on your pet’s internal systems. Because these worms steal the nutrition that should be reaching your cat, you might notice them fall rapidly ill, lose energy, and generally become unkempt.
These conditions are often treatable with worm tablet medication if caught in time.
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How To Stop Your Cat Eating Flies
The most efficient way to stop your cat from eating flies is to eliminate flies from their living space.
There isn’t much you can do to teach a cat not to hunt, so most of the responsibility lies with the owner to ensure that flies are not easily accessible to their cats regularly. Keeping a clean house, closing screen doors, and hanging fly tape in doorways can help drastically reduce the number of flies in your home.
It’s also important to keep your cat fed and on a schedule so that they don’t hunt as a way to boost their nutrition.
Otherwise, investing in trash cans with lids and cleaning your cat’s litter box daily will help keep flies at bay.
Can Cats Eat Flies? Final Thoughts
For the most part, eating a fly won’t hurt your cat. A few insects might be just what the doctor ordered for your furry friend. Just make sure that they don’t get carried away. Always monitor your cat for changes in behavior, appetite, or bathroom habits.
If your cat is happy and healthy, sit back and enjoy watching them leap, pounce, and live their best lives.
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