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Can Cats Eat Mealworms?

Cats are curious creatures for many reasons. For instance, late-night running marathons and knocking things off of shelves are favorite moves of felines worldwide.

Another kitty favorite is playing with and sometimes chowing down on insects. 

Can cats eat mealworms? Some cats love eating mealworms, and it’s perfectly okay for them to do so. Apart from being packed with protein, farm-grown mealworms are parasite-free, so there’s no harm in giving one to your cat as an occasional snack. 

Although it may sound weird to us, some felines love chowing down on those freeze-dried wrigglers people buy for their birds or reptiles.

However, there are some creepy-crawlers that you should keep your cat away from. That’s why I’ve gone and gathered info about mealworms and other types of insects your cat can eat or should altogether avoid – to help you keep your feline healthy and safe. 

What Are Mealworms?

Mealworms aren’t entirely worms, as their name suggests. And when we talk about mealworms, we usually mean the larval form of mealworm or darkling beetles. 

Mealworms are native to Africa, but they can be found pretty much anywhere in the world. They like to live under rocks, in animal caves, and even stored grains. 

These little critters like to eat vegetation, dead insects, and plants, which is why they’re sometimes called nature’s clean up crew! Believe it or not, a mealworm will go through 9 to 20 developmental stages (instars) to become a pupa and finally a full-fledged darkling beetle. 

Unfortunately, mealworms in the wild can carry parasites like gregarines and rat tapeworms. These parasites can lead to infections and cause problems like abdominal pain and diarrhea. 

Among other things, symptoms of these parasites aren’t always immediate. So, the parasites can hang inside the host’s body for quite a while before symptoms appear. 

Fortunately, your cat is unlikely to encounter mealworms unless you are buying farm-raised for them. So parasites shouldn’t be an issue.

Why Cats May Like Eating Mealworms

Has your Supreme Kitty been driving you up the walls by breaking into the mealworm stash your keep for your birds/reptiles/fish?

If so, you can breathe a sigh of relief because cats can eat mealworms safely as long as they’re from a reliable source.

But what about those pesky parasites? The thing is, mealworms grown on farms are raised on pest-free food and kept in hygienic conditions (for worms, anyway). And that’s what makes them parasite-free and safe for feline consumption. 

If you’re having a tough time understanding the fascination your cat has with mealworms (and other assorted insects) – allow me to explain. 

You see, stray cats and felines living in the wild like chowing down on critters for two reasons: nutrition and the hunting instinct. It’s a well-known fact among cat enthusiasts that cats like hunting for their prey. They enjoy the chase. 

Additionally, felines are obligate carnivores. That means their diet needs to consist of nutrients found in other animals. Your furball requires a diet that includes fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and plenty of proteins.

That’s where mealworms (and other bugs) come in.

The Nutritional Value Of Mealworms

No discussion of a kitty diet is complete without a breakdown of the nutritional values involved. And, that’s why I’ve gone ahead and discovered what the dietary benefits of mealworms are –

Approximate Nutritional Values For Dried Mealworms:

  • Fat: 28%
  • Protein: 53%
  • Water: 5%
  • Fiber: 6 to 7%

Approximate Nutritional Values For Live Mealworms:

  • Fat: 13%
  • Protein: 20%
  • Water: 62%
  • Fiber: 2%

Surprisingly enough, dried mealworms are a healthier snack option for your feline than live ones. I guess this is one exception to the old standard “eat healthy, eat fresh” rule. Nonetheless, this is good news for cat parents whose furbabies have an appetite for mealworms. 

Not only are dried worms wide available at most pet stores and online pet retailers (we’d recommend these ones), they are also safer because the worms are freeze-dried and germ-free. They also come pre-packaged and can be stored for a long-time in an air-tight container. 

Mealworm Diet Vs. Mealworm Treats For Cats

Feeding your cat an occasional mealworm treat is more than okay, but it really shouldn’t be taken any further. 

Felines need to be fed a well-balanced diet to stay healthy and avoid health-related problems.

The six essential nutrients in a feline’s diet are:

  1. Animal protein
  2. Fats
  3. Water
  4. Carbohydrates
  5. Vitamins 
  6. Minerals

That’s why most feline experts suggest a combined diet of mixed and dry food to ensure all your kitten’s nutrient needs are well and properly met. 

Mealworms (of the live or dried variety) check only 3 of the six essential nutrient requirements – which means they’re not fit to be treated as a diet replacement.  

Not to mention, if your cat isn’t a fan of mealworms in general – you can go ahead and stick to the healthy treat options on the market for felines. Under no circumstance are mealworms a necessity for cats.

What Other Insects Can Cats Eat? 

Here’s the thing. If your cat is domesticated and gets a regular supply of cat food from you – try to keep it away from ingesting any type of insect. Even the non-toxic variety of bugs can cause issues like abdominal pain, vomiting, etc., in felines. So there’s no point in letting your furball take chances.

Here’s a quick rundown of the regular insects you may have creeping around your home and the related dangers of your cat ingesting them: 

Grasshoppers, Roaches, and Crickets

I’m kicking off my bug list with the kind of critters that are least harmful to felines. 

Insects with hard exoskeletons like grasshoppers, roaches, and crickets are non-toxic for cats. But, you should still do whatever you can to keep your cat from eating them.

Eating crickets and grasshoppers may cause your little fuzzbaby to develop a throat or mouth irritation – thanks to all those crunchy bug bits. And sometimes, eating these insects can also cause gastrointestinal issues. 

Roaches, on the other hand, are what I like to call a ‘double whammy.’ They have hard exoskeletons and carry parasites like pinworms, roundworms, tapeworms, etc., that are super harmful to cats (and humans for that matter)!

Ants

Thankfully, itty bitty ants don’t really appeal to most kitties. They’re too small to be any fun. 

Large black ants, however, maybe a different matter. This type of ant is sizable enough to switch on your feline’s hunting mode. Though cats typically don’t like eating ants, it’s still a good idea to keep your pet away. 

Even though black ants don’t have venomous bites – your cat can get hurt from their bites.

Fire ants are another matter entirely because they have venomous bites that can set off an allergic reaction in your kitty.

Spiders

My motto in life is that spiders should not be messed with, not even to get some awesome super powers.

And the ambiguity surrounding these eight-legged creatures just makes everything worse. No all scary-looking spiders are poisonous, and not all poisonous spiders look scary. That’s just wrong. 

The good news is, if your cat ingests a spider, its tummy acid should be enough the neutralize the spider venom. But, it’s best to keep a close watch on your kitty for the next few days for signs of any ill effects. 

Related Questions

Who’d have thought cat parents were bugged by queries related to kitty insect ingestion. But, if there’s some info I missed out on earlier, there’s a good chance I’ll cover it below which is why you shouldn’t give this section a miss!

What Can I Feed My Cat If I’m Out of Cat Food?

Cats are obligate carnivores, which is a fancier way of saying felines need to eat some form of meat protein in their diet. Protein is one of the six essential nutrients of a kitty diet because it helps with cardiovascular and muscle health and promotes good vision in cats.

That’s why, if you’re out of cat food, it’s a good idea to feed your feline some plain boiled chicken, turkey, or beef. Feeding your cat raw meat could lead to bacterial infections, so it’s best to steer clear of that.

You also should not feed your cat seasoned meat; Fluffy should not have a piece of even your simplest dinner unless you season it at the end.

Why Won’t My Cat Kill Bugs?

Prey drive is the reason behind your cat hunting things. The term signifies a feline’s instinct to hunt and includes all the related characteristics, like crouching, pouncing, trilling, etc. 

If your cat isn’t going after the critters in your home, it may because its attention is distracted by something else. More often than not, your cat is too busy hunting or playing with its toys (fake mice, feather wands, etc.) to hunt prey. Or maybe your cat just really isn’t interested.

Are Worms Toxic to Cats?

Worms like earthworms and mealworms are not toxic for cats. However, if your cat likes playing outside and happens to ingest a worm, it may develop a bacterial infection or abdominal problems like pain or vomiting. 

If your cat loves the taste of worms, you can keep your cat safe from health concerns by ordering farm-grown worms that are parasite-free. 

How Do I Know If My Cat Has a Parasite?

It is difficult to figure out if your cat is affected by parasites – unless symptoms start to appear. But, even so, you have to be careful because the symptoms are relatively generic or non-specific. 

For instance, common symptoms of parasitic concerns in felines include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloated or potbellied appearance
  • Vomiting
  • A lackluster coat of fur
  • Feces with blood
  • Mucous. 

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