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My Cat Ate A Fly: What To Do & Is It Bad?

It may seem like a natural occurrence for cats to eat bugs. They are fantastic hunters and very skilled at catching pets like flies. Is it safe for cats to eat flies? Owners often wonder what to do if their cat eats a fly. We have the answers and more.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: March 8, 2023 | 8 min read

cat hunting down a fly

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Cats are natural-born hunters, and it is common to see the most docile and sweet purr baby take off after a bug that happens to get inside. Felines will spend hours stalking and hunting bugs. Most often, they get their prey. While it is helpful to have an ever-present exterminator, feline owners often wonder if it’s safe for their cats to eat flies, also known as Musca domestica Linnaeus.

As pet owners, we all want to ensure our furry friends are safe and healthy. Unfortunately, cats are curious creatures and often get into things they should not. If your cat has been snacking on flies, you may wonder if it’s safe and how to prevent it.

Why do cats eat flies? Can this make them sick? Even though it seems natural, owners sometimes wonder if they should stop their pets from chasing bugs. These are all valid questions feline owners seek answers to. Let’s jump in and learn a little bit more about cats eating flies.

Can Cats Eat Flies?

The short answer is yes. A cat can eat a fly, but that does not mean they should. These little pests are small and easy for cats to catch, so munching on their well-earned snack is not unusual. It is valuable to note that a fly does not provide much nutritional value for cats, though they offer extra protein. Flies are not considered toxic, but that does not mean they are super healthy, either.

While cats can eat Musca, it’s not a great idea to allow your pet to munch on every bug they find, including eating many of these flying pests. An occasional fly will not be harmful, but more than that is risky. They carry germs and pathogens that can be harmful to felines. They can also carry parasites, which will set up camp in your kitty’s digestive tract after being ingested.

Why Do Cats Eat Flies?

There are a few reasons felines chase and eat these flying creatures. House cats do not have to hunt to survive but retain strong hunting instincts. A predator at heart, these instincts kick in when smaller creatures enter the room. Felines all have an instinctual drive to hunt and capture their prey, which is why some kitties are drawn to insects. Some may also be attracted to the taste or smell of the bug.

Hunting and chasing Musca and other pests is fun for a cat. For kitties who spend most of their time inside, the chance to hunt real, live prey does not come along often. Some kitties may eat bugs to relieve stress or boredom.

What Happens If My Cat Eats A Fly?

If your cat eats the occasional fly, they will likely be fine. This does not mean they should eat them or any other insect, bug, or pest in large quantities. There are a number of health risks that can come from a kitty regularly eating these winged creatures.

Musca carry diseases, some of which can be quite serious. These include salmonella, worms, gastroenteritis, enteritis, dysentery, trachoma, cholera, anthrax, leprosy, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever. This is not a complete list. Research shows that the house fly carries at least 65 diseases that can transmit to humans. This also means they can transmit these diseases, bacteria, and parasites to pets.

Felines can eat Musca domestica infected with parasites like Isospora cysts, Giardia, Toxoplasma, and more. Along with roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and stomach worms, these can cause varying levels of sickness and discomfort in felines and can be ingested when they eat infected insects.

Flies are often also at risk of being sprayed with chemical insecticides and can come in contact with pesticides and other chemicals. These chemicals are poisonous to felines. Cats can then ingest a contaminated fly, causing discomfort and sickness. Poisoning can occur, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, drooling, low energy, and loss of appetite. In severe cases, a kitty could even die from eating a bug covered in pesticides or other poisons.

There is considerable risk for felines who eat flies that they may be contaminated with parasites, pathogens, and viruses. Because of this, it’s not a good idea to let them eat bugs habitually. If it happens occasionally, they will likely be fine. However, if your kitty makes a regular habit of eating bugs, you will want to have them examined by your veterinarian and take steps to stop this behavior. It is also important to figure out where the winged pests are coming from and make sure to eliminate that source.

Why Do Cats Play With Flies When They Catch Them?

It will not be a quick mission when a feline on alert goes after a flying pest. They do not simply catch the prey and move on. Owners may notice their kitty batting the bug around and toying with it before finishing the task. Felines often bat their prey about the home, pounce on it, and do this over and over again before eventually eating the bug. They do not behave this way because they are mean or trying to be cruel. Remember, felines are natural hunters and follow their instincts.

Chasing flying bugs and other pests helps felines develop and retain their hunting skills. Indoor kitties rarely have the opportunity to chase prey in the natural world. So they will take advantage of any opportunity to exercise these hunting instincts.

Hunting is a natural behavior for felines and contributes to their mental and physical well-being. Indoor kitties can develop periods of boredom, and chasing a bug can add a lot of excitement to their day.

Female kitties often play with their prey more often and longer than males do. This is due to their maternal instinct. Mama kitties are responsible for teaching their kittens how to hunt and survive. They may catch a fly or other insect, partially demobilize it, and then take it to their kitten so they can learn more about hunting and killing prey.

Can My Cat Get Maggots From Eating Flies?

The good news is that cats cannot get maggots from eating a fly. Maggots occur after Musca lays eggs on the skin or in open wounds. Maggots are the larval stage of certain insects, such as the house fly, and they can only form in decaying organic matter.

Musca can lay eggs on a cat and on fecal matter. If felines eat these eggs, they may start to feel ill. Because of this, try not to let your kitty eat insect eggs or maggots if you can help it.

What To Do If Your Cat Eats A Fly

If your kitty has eaten a fly, the most important thing to do is to monitor them for any signs of illness. Signs of illness can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite. Most of the time, these will be mild and will subside after a day or so. If they do not, and If your pet shows signs of severe illness, it is best to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If you know you have recently sprayed chemicals outside or inside and are concerned your pet ate them, contact your vet before trying to treat your pet at home.

Though it’s sometimes suggested that you can help a kitty vomit up bugs or other substances by having them ingest hydrogen peroxide, this is not recommended. There is not truly a safe way to make your purr baby vomit, and if your kitty is sick enough to need this, you should seek medical assistance. If a feline is excessively drooling, is losing coordination, has trouble breathing, or is extremely lethargic after eating a fly, you will want to have a veterinary examination.

Cats who have eaten a fly or two may have stomach upset or discomfort for a day or so afterward. Putting them on a bland chicken and rice diet may be beneficial. Also, be sure to provide plenty of fresh water to encourage them to drink. Monitor your pet closely for any signs of illness, poisoning, or other discomforts.

How To Prevent Your Cat From Eating Flies

The best way to prevent your kitty from eating insects is to keep them indoors. Musca are attracted to open windows and doors, so keeping your pet indoors can help reduce the number of insects in your home.

  1. Make sure to inspect all your windows and screen doors for any holes insects can get in through.
  2. You can also try to keep your home clean. Flies are drawn to food and garbage, so immediately clean up any spills or food scraps. Be sure to store food securely and prevent crumbs from building up on the floor, as this attracts bugs. Use an insect trap to help reduce the number of bugs in your home.
  3. Outdoor cleanliness also impacts the number of bugs that can get inside. If you have other animals that use the restroom in your backyard, clean up after them promptly. Fecal matter attracts flies which can then get inside your home.
  4. Make sure to keep the outdoor garbage area as clean as possible. This is also a common area where flies gather and subsequently find their way inside.
  5. You can take steps to deter insects and other bugs from entering your home, such as burning citronella candles and placing insect strips and traps around entrances.
  6. Provide your kitty with alternatives so that they are not as interested in snacking on bugs. This is especially important if it becomes a habit. Provide plenty of chew toys, feather toys, places to climb like cat shelves or perches, and plenty of opportunities for physical activity. Highly active cats may benefit from an exercise wheel or kitty tower.
  7. Make sure you spend time daily in highly interactive play with your pet. Remember, felines are affectionate, love attention, and need physical exercise. They can easily get bored and appreciate these one-on-one play sessions. Preventing boredom is a great way to stop cats from chasing after insects.
  8. Preventing insects from getting into your home is the best way to prevent your kitty from eating them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I give my cat medication after eating a fly?

No, you should not give your cat medication after they eat a fly. If a kitty is showing signs of illness, contact your veterinarian for advice. Do not try to treat your pet with human or canine medication, and do not use old medication either. Also, do not try to make felines vomit. It’s always best to speak with your veterinarian before doing so.

What insects are toxic to cats?

Flies themselves are not toxic to felines, but some insects are. These include fireflies, poisonous spiders, centipedes, cockroaches, fleas, bees, tiger moths, and more. Because of the risk of disease as well as possible toxicity, try to prevent your kitty from chowing down on any bugs or insects.

Why does my cat keep eating flies?

Cats love to hunt and can get easily bored, so some seem obsessed with chasing flies. They are unlikely to go after insects for nutrition, especially if your pet is well-fed. Try to offer some distractions, like freeze-dried meaty treats, new toys, and one-on-one playtime. Additionally, it may be a good idea to take steps to prevent insects like these from getting into your home.

Final Thoughts

Cats are skilled hunters who like to chase things, especially flying insects like the common house fly. While it can be fun to watch and will keep your cat entertained for a long time, consuming bugs is not necessarily a good idea for felines. There are some risks associated with this behavior. Though swallowing the occasional fly will not cause long-term harm, it is not wise to let this become a regular habit.

Eating flies can be dangerous for felines, so knowing the possibilities and what to do if your kitty eats one is important. If your kitty has eaten a fly, monitor them for any signs of illness and contact your veterinarian if necessary. Try to keep your cat indoors and keep your home clean to help prevent them from snacking on bugs. It’s also a good idea to try and deter a cat’s attention with a new toy or treat. You can ensure that your purr baby stays safe and healthy with the right precautions.

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