My Cat Won’t Kill a Cockroach!

Cats can be very stubborn, so chances are if yours does not want to play “chase and kill” with roaches, you can’t make it happen.

My Cat Won't Kill a Cockroach
My cat won’t catch roaches.

While visiting my sister recently, I commented on the cuteness of her cat Sugar. My sister’s reply to that comment caught me a little by surprise.

“Sugar may be a cute cat, but she’s not the smartest cat in the world. She brings me dead mice, dead lizards, even dead birds — but my cat won’t kill a cockroach to save her life!” my sister exclaimed.

This remark made me a little curious, so I decided to do a little investigating into why a cat wouldn’t want to kill a roach.

It seems to be a personality trait, with each kitty having its own preferences as to what things should or should not be killed. Cats can be very stubborn animals, so chances are if she does not want to play “chase and kill” with certain critters, you can’t make it happen.

Many felines will kill and eat cockroaches. Sounds pretty gross, but some cats will kill and eat almost any bug they find.

(My sister is terrified of spiders, even more so than cockroaches, so I have to wonder if Sugar kills spiders around her house. Makes me think maybe Sis got a cat for pest-control purposes, as well as to have a cute pet around the house).

When Roaches Are Just Toys

According to the book Why Don’t Cats Go Bald?, by the veterinarian Skip Sullivan and David Fisher, cats generally see cockroaches as edible playthings. First, the cat may play with the bug, chasing it and rolling it around on the floor. When the fun wears off and the bug wears down, a telltale crunching sound may be heard as the cat sinks her teeth into her delectable treat. Yuck!

Although eating such critters rarely makes a cat ill, you should take caution when using pesticides in your home. Many pest control companies offer pet-safe products.

Get Your Own Pest Control

Please take note that I am in no way suggesting that felines, while they may or may not choose to kill a cockroach, are an instant answer to ridding your home of unwanted bugs. Even if your cat decides to kill the thing, she won’t be fast enough to provide roach control. Remember, she will feel the need to play with each bug before the final crunch.

Next time I’m over at my sister’s, I am going to share with her my slightly sarcastic complaint — My dogs won’t harm a housefly!

Additional Resources

  • American Bird Conservancy: Frequently asked questions about cat predatory behaviors
  • ASPCA: Predatory Behavior in Cats

Photo: Phae/Flickr

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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