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Can Cats Eat Spiders? Is It Healthy for Them?

Whether you’re a seasoned kitty owner or brand new to the feline community, chances

are you’ll notice your cat take an interest in a spider. Most likely, your cat will bat it around and play with it. Before you know it, the cat has swallowed it whole!

Don’t be alarmed. Cats can eat spiders.

It’s very common for cats to find spiders in the house and eat them. But should you let your cat eat a spider? Let’s explore this topic further and learn why exactly cats go in for the kill of these eight-legged creatures.

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Why Do Cats Eat Spiders?

The idea of a spider in your house right now might make your skin crawl. But cats love to play with them! To your kitty, a spider is a perfect hunting opportunity. Cats are natural-born hunters. While housecats don’t need to hunt for their food like wild cats, the killer instinct is still hotwired in their blood.

That’s why cats can’t resist any chance they get for a hunt. Small prey like mice, birds, hamsters, snakes, and spiders are especially appealing to cats.

But what about spider venom? Does it affect your cat’s stomach? Spider venom is unlikely to be a problem if your cat eats a spider. Stomach acid destroys the venom before it can negatively affect your cat.

Cat sniffing plants in the garden
Image Credit: miezekieze, Pixabay

The Nutritional Value of Insects

As we know, cats don’t hunt just because they’re hungry. Still, insects provide a particular nutritional value to a cat’s diet. And of course, a little entertainment!

Insects make up a small percentage of a cat’s diet in the wild. The British Journal of Nutrition found that bugs and insects counted for about 1.2% of a free-range feral cat’s diet in North America.

It’s not much. But it does give us important insight into cat behavior and their unique ability to find food. Because cats are obligate carnivores, they require high protein levels in their diet. Researchers have found that insects are an efficient, sustainable protein source for cats.

Insects also provide essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Taurine, an amino acid, is critical to a cat’s diet. Without taurine, cats can develop severe medical issues. Luckily, research has shown that insects exceed the minimum requirement of taurine, crude protein, and other essential amino acids.

Pet food companies have noticed this and are experimenting with insect protein in their food.

Overall, cats don’t consume enough insects to live off this nutritional value, but they can be an excellent supplement to their daily diet.

cat eating cricket
Image Credit: Deathshow, Shutterstock

Which Spiders and Insects Are Dangerous to Cats?

It’s important to note that some insects can be harmful to your cat. Most likely, your kitty is fine if she eats a bug. The real concern is if a bug bites your cat.

Most spider species have small mouths, so their bites don’t always cause serious medical attention. However, specific spider breeds are harmful to cats. These breeds include:

  • Black widows
  • Brown recluse
  • Hobo spiders
  • False widow
  • Tarantulas (hairs can cause severe irritation)
black widow spider
Image Credit: Piqsels

Bugs like wasps, bees, fire ants, and poisonous caterpillars may cause reactions from bites. It’s best to research spiders and insects in your area to learn which ones can be harmful to your pet.

Spider venom affects the nervous system (neurotoxic) or tissue (necrotic) when a spider bites a person or creature. Knowing this is important when observing your cat.

Reactions can include any of the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Facial swelling
  • Inflammation around the site of the bite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooling
  • Pawing from oral discomfort
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain or tremors
  • Collapse or paralysis

Bacterial infection can also occur around the site of the bite if it’s not treated.

Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

What To Do If Your Cat Is Bitten by A Spider

Spider bites don’t always show clinical signs right away. Monitor your cat if you suspect an insect or spider bite.

Obvious clinical signs require immediate attention, such as collapse and difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs, seek medical attention for your pet immediately.

When in doubt, call your veterinarian for further instruction. If your primary vet isn’t available, emergency pet hospitals stay open 24/7 so you can take your kitty to the doctor at a moment’s notice.

Vet looking for swelling in cat paws_Motortion Films, Shutterstock
Image Credit: Motortion Films, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

It’s natural to be scared if your cat eats one. Your cat should be fine after eating a spider. But it’s always a good idea to call your veterinarian and discuss your concerns.

Cats are wonderful creatures and impeccable hunters. Spiders trigger that hunting instinct that kitties can’t resist. For those people who hat having spiders in their homes, having your cat gulp one down may be a good thing!

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Featured Image: Piqsels