We all have seen this: cat chasing a fly, cat playing with a fly… Oww so cute… Oh! Cat eating the fly! Wait a second! Can cats eat flies?
I live in a hot climate and in summer, we have flies, no matter what we do. It is not an invasion, but we have them. With two cats, you would expect my home to be a fly free zone but one of them is a cute, little, lazy sack of potatoes and the other just hunts when he wants to, but when he does, I ask myself “can cats eat flies”.
My boy cat, Ouzo is an athletic 17.5 pounds beast with strong hunting instincts. He chases anything that moves like most other cats and flies are no exception. Sometimes he catches them and sometimes he doesn’t. When he is successful, he plays with his prey a little longer and then he eats it. This is a typical cat hunting process.
A cat eating flies, this is not a surprise. They eat all kinds of bugs but some of them are not good for our little friends, and this takes us to the ultimate question: Do cats eat flies?
Can Cats Eat Flies?
The short answer is YES, cats can eat flies without getting harmed (most of the time), but this is not all because there are several factors you need to consider when you see your cat chasing a fly. Although rare, sometimes there might be severe consequences of a cat eating a fly.
The fly is not really any different than other animal proteins for cats. It is not toxic, it is nutritious, it is fun to play with (at least from a cat’s perspective). However, there are other risks involved such as pathogens, bacteria, insecticides, protozoa and other microbes. We will get into all these later on but the fly itself is not the issue.
Is It OK For Cats to Eat Flies?
Flies may carry lots of pathogens, microbes, bacteria and other disease-causing health hazards. In addition to all these risks, eating too many flies may also have unwanted effects such as diarrhea or vomiting.
A lot of people living in places where fly infestation is common, use insecticides and gardeners use pesticides for their plants. In addition to these, there are the pathogens flies get from spending time on animal and human feces.
Flies are often exposed to these chemicals and substances and carry them wherever they go including your cat’s stomach. Just one fly may not mean anything and probably won’t have any effect but as the number of flies increase, the risk of getting poisoned or sick increase, too.
Also, flies can carry gastrointestinal parasites called Isospora. These parasites can cause bacterial infections in a cat’s intestines. So, can cats get worms from eating flies? Yes, definitely.
In addition to these parasites in the intestines, there are botflies that lay eggs on animal skins. These botfly eggs then turn into maggots that cause skin diseases. Right at this point, you may ask what happens if cat eats fly eggs. Cats eating flies’ worms may have several serious health issues in their gastrointestinal tracts.
How to Understand Sickness Caused By Flies
So, my cat ate a fly. Do I need to be worried right away? Absolutely not! Even if your cat ate several flies, the chances are nothing will happen to it. Some cats may have sensitive stomachs and can get diarrhea or start vomiting after eating flies but generally the diarrhea and vomiting disappears within 24 hours.
If the diarrhea and/or vomiting doesn’t stop within 24 hours, consult your veterinarian immediately. Vomiting and diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours may have reasons other than a sensitive stomach and your veterinarian is the best person to detect why these symptoms are present in your little friend.
If you see one of the symptoms below, take your kitty to your regular veterinarian immediately because your cat might be poisoned due to eating flies with insecticides, pesticides or other poisonous substances:
- Leaking saliva from the mouth
- Difficulty breathing, or
- Lack of coordination
Why Do Cats Eat Flies?
From a cat’s perspective, the answer to this question is “why not?”. Is it okay for cats to eat flies? Yes, sure as long as the fly is not contaminated, or the cat doesn’t eat more than its stomach can handle. After everything I told before, you may think that “Oh, my cat eats flies. I need to do something”.
The only thing you need to do if your cat eats flies regularly is to change the question you ask to “why does my cat eat flies”. If your cat regularly tries to increase the protein it gets and flies are the only source it can get, it will hunt flies and eat them. This shows that your cat may not be getting the nutrition it needs.
In addition to instinctively increasing the protein intake, hunting and eating flies and other bugs is almost like breathing for most cats. Although we call them “domesticated” they are still carnivorous predators. They need physical and mental stimulation which chasing flies provide.
This sort of exercise increases a cat’s hunting skills and eye-paw coordination. It also helps burning extra calories your cat may have because feline obesity is one of the most common and serious health issues today’s cats have. Always encourage your cat to be active.
Is it safe for cats to eat flies?
Flies are not toxic to cats and are a source of protein for cats. In this sense it is safe for cats to eat flies however if the flies your cat eats carry pathogens or chemicals that are harmful to cats, and your cat eats enough flies, it may get sick.
What happens if a cat eats a fly?
Just one or a few flies can’t carry enough pathogens or chemical substances to make your cat sick unless your cat has a condition that can be triggered by eating flies. If your cat eats flies, observe your cat for 24 hours and if you see any symptoms, consult your veterinarian.
Can cats get worms from eating flies?
Yes, flies are capable of delivering worms to cats. There are several fly species that are associated with transmission of harmful worms. The most common worms cats can get from eating flies are Tapeworms and Physaloptera which can cause infections in digestive system of cats.
Conclusion – Can Cats Eat Flies?
After everything we discussed above, let’s ask it one more time: Can cats eat flies? The answer is yes, cats can eat flies as long as the flies don’t carry any pathogens or substances that are harmful to cats such as insecticides.
If you don’t want your cat eating flies or if it eats too many flies, your best solution is having a fly-free home. In order to keep your home fly-free, you can install screens on windows and doors, keep your trash cans closed with lids all the time, remove the dirty cat litter from your house as soon as you clean the litter, keep your home clean and use fly traps.