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Is It Safe for Cats to Eat Moths? Facts & FAQ

Cats are natural predators that enjoy a good hunt, whether to catch a mouse running by or to chase butterflies in the sun. Typically, if they can catch their prey, they also have the instinctual drive to eat it.

Although it is difficult to control everything that your cat finds and eats, if it is within your power to keep them safe, you should. Crawling creatures live both in and outside of the house. It is best to know if any of these are poisonous for cats and to keep each other away as much as you can.

One of the most common creatures that you can find in the home is a moth. Moths love dusky areas with plenty of fabrics and other material to chew on. Your cat is likely to find them as they sneak around the home and into storage spaces.

Since it is such a high possibility that your cat will find and eat a moth, it is helpful to know if they are toxic. Can cats eat moths? Yes, they can.

In this article, we discuss the safety of cats eating moths and their caterpillars and the potential dangers that they might encounter.

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Are Moths Safe for Cats to Eat?

Most butterflies and moths are safe for cats to eat and typically don’t pose a risk to them.

That said, many moths, even exotic species, like the Garden Tiger Moth, have not been studied extensively for their effect on cats. But while a moth is poisonous when ingested by other animals, like birds, it is less likely that it will affect larger mammals.

cat playing moth
Image Credit: Tracy Morris, Shutterstock

Dangers If a Cat Eats a Moth

The most dangerous aspect of potentially attacking a moth is if your cat tries to eat one of the caterpillars. As moths and butterflies work through their life stages, their effect on the animals that eat them can change.

Since caterpillars can’t fly, they are much more vulnerable to predators. Typically, that means they are also better at protecting themselves. They might simply be bitter-tasting, teaching cats that encounter a caterpillar in the future to stay away.

Caterpillars can also be capable of stinging creatures using chemicals on the ends of barbs or hairs across their bodies. These stings are rarely dangerous and will only cause your cat a couple of seconds to minutes of slight discomfort or pain. However, the sting of certain exotic caterpillars can be poisonous.

If you feel more comfortable keeping moths out of the house and away from the open jaws of your cat, try using cedar to deter them. Moths don’t like the smell and feel of the chemicals in cedar and tend to avoid storage and rooms with the bark in them.

The most dangerous aspect of cats and moths is if you try to get rid of the moths using mothballs. More than any moth, mothballs are incredibly toxic for cats. Even eating a single mothball can cause toxic poisoning for a cat. That is because each mothball is a concentrated form of pesticide.

Symptoms of mothball toxicity include lethargy, trouble breathing, seizures, tremors, and vomiting. Do not lay mothballs out in your home, and if you believe that your cat has eaten one, call your veterinarian right away.

What Are Other Insects That Cats Can Safely Eat?

black ants on wood
Image Credit: ArtLovePhoto, Shutterstock

There are many other insects that a cat might encounter. Most of the ones that you might find in your home will generally be fine, especially if you live in a temperate climate with harsh winters. The cold weather kills most of the more toxic insects.

If your cat encounters small house centipedes, they are typically harmless. Black ants are also acceptable, but you should try to keep your cat away from the fire ant’s venomous pinchers.

Hard-bodied insects are also typically non-toxic for cats, although eating their tough exoskeletons might cause stomach upset if they are too big. Insects like these include roaches, crickets, beetles, and grasshoppers.

The only other issue with a cat eating insects is the parasites that the insects might be carrying. That is especially true with bugs like roaches. That is why it is best to ensure that your cat always gets their preventative deworming, since you can’t consistently moderate what they ingest.3 cat face divider


If your cat encounters insects in the home, it is typically not a cause for alarm. They are often relatively harmless, especially if they are small. If you notice your cat finding and eating quite a few bugs, then there might be a more significant problem at hand.

If you do decide to do something about a bug infestation in your home, ensure that the cat is not present for it. The chemicals from most bug bombs or other simpler preventative treatments, even ant traps, are more deadly for cats than most of the insects they catch.

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Featured Image Credit: danielburchmore, Pixabay