Maggots are the stuff nightmares are made of. As humans, it’s natural for us to have an aversion to them. After all, they are often found in dead animals, which would make us very sick if we ate them.
Your cat, however, doesn’t have the same issues with maggots. It’s unlikely your cat is seeking out maggots to chomp, but they don’t seem to mind munching on them if they happen to be in what they are eating.
What happens if a cat eats maggots?
Maggots are considered unsanitary and disgusting. Your skin likely crawls at the thought of your cat eating maggots. The good news is that if a cat eats maggots, they won’t hurt your cat, although large amounts of them might cause digestive upset. The problem is what your cat ingests along with the maggots.
What are Maggots?
Maggots are fly larvae. Flies lay eggs in places where the maggots can feed, often in dead animals or garbage. Once the eggs hatch, the maggots begin eating whatever they were laid in, from food to poop.
Scientists are currently researching maggots as a food source. In some cultures, they are already a popular snack. They are very high in protein and fat.
Amount of Maggots
Maggots themselves are perfectly safe for your cat in smaller amounts. In fact, they are quite nutritious. If your cat eats a large amount of maggots, they may experience some digestive upset. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea could occur. It should pass within 24-48 hours.
Food Chain Toxicity
Maggots themselves are not harmful themselves. However, they can carry bacteria that can make your cat sick. This comes down to what they’ve been eating. If they eat something contaminated with bacteria, they can pass it on to your cat if they eat the maggots.
One of the main concerns about eating maggots is that they are often found on dead animals. If your cat is consuming maggots found on a dead animal, they are likely also eating the animal itself.
Rotting flesh can contain a number of harmful bacteria and parasites that can make your cat ill. They are less susceptible to bacteria than humans. They evolved to eat animals in the wild, including dead carcasses. However, the bacteria can still make your cat sick.
Another concern when your cat eats a dead animal is diseases and parasites the animal was carrying while alive. Some diseases and parasites can be passed on to your cat through the animals’ flesh or the maggots.
Flies love to lay eggs in poop as well. Maggots grow quickly in poop, and some cats love to munch it as well. Poop itself isn’t harmful to your cat, as gross as it sounds.
The concern is that parasites can be transmitted through poop. If your cat eats infected poop or maggots that were eating infected poop, they can become infected with parasites.
Garbage is a cat favorite. Perhaps it’s the tempting smells of food, or simply the forbidden nature of the trash can. At some point, nearly every cat gets a trash snack. Flies also like trash. It’s a good place for them to lay eggs, because it provides food for maggots.
Cats’ strong digestive systems mean that they can generally eat garbage and be ok. Their stomachs can kill many bacteria that would make you very sick. If your cat ate garbage with maggots in it, they should be fine.
It’s probably not the place you expect to find maggots. From the maggots perspective, it’s a great spot to feed. Cat food provides maggots with plenty of nutrition.
The problem with maggots in cat food isn’t the maggots themselves. It’s the maggots ability to break down food. When consuming a rotting animal, the maggots digestive ability is beneficial.
When it comes to cat food, it causes the food to break down. Degradation normally happens over time. Cat food should only be fed to your cat within a month of opening the bag because it breaks down over time.
The food oxidizes and looses some of its nutritional value. It may also smell and taste less appealing. If you find maggots in your cat’s food, you’ll need to throw it out. However, your cat should be fine.
Why would my cat eat maggots?
Cats eat maggots because they happen to be in or on something else they are eating. Basically, it comes down to smell. Your cat loves things with a pungent smell. The items with a strong smell are often items that are spoiled.
The scent from dead animals and trash is enticing to your cat, so they eat it. It’s hard to imagine poop being enticing, but cats smell each other’s poop to learn about each other. They certainly don’t find it disgusting.
What to do if my cat eats maggots?
If your cat ate maggots, you are wondering what you should do. In many cases, all you need to do is watch and wait. In other cases, you may need to visit the vet.
Watch and Wait
If your cat ate maggots in their cat food, all you need to do is keep an eye on them. If they have eaten a large amount of maggots, they may experience some stomach upset. It should subside quickly, and there shouldn’t be any lingering symptoms.
If your cat ate trash, you don’t have much to worry about. Watch for signs of gastrointestinal upset, but it shouldn’t cause any problems. If your cat gets severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, make an appointment with your vet.
If your cat ate poop with maggots, the concern is what was in the poop. If it’s poop from another cat that’s free of parasites, you have little to worry about. If it was from an unknown animal, it’s best to get a check-up to make sure your kitty didn’t pick up a parasite.
Call the Vet
There are some instances where it’s wise to take your cat to the vet. If your cat ate a dead animal, it’s best to get them checked out. If they ingested harmful bacteria, you can expect them to have vomitting and diarrhea. They may need medication. If they get an infection from the dead animal, they will need antibiotics.
The other concern, again, is parasites. Dead wild animals are more likely to carry parasites than domestic animals who are typically dewormed. Contracting intestinal parasites isn’t an emergency, but they can make your cat sick over time. Your vet can perform a test to check for parasites. If your cat has contracted one, dewormer will be given.
No matter where your cat picked up the maggots, take them to the vet if they are severely sick. Fever, racing heart, heavy panting, frequent vomiting, and severe diarrhea are all signs that your kitty needs prompt veterinary attention.
How can I prevent my cat from eating maggots?
Preventing your cat from eating maggots can be challenging, particularly if your cat loves to explore or eat things they shouldn’t. There are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of your cat eating maggots.
Clean Up Poop
If your cat enjoys snacking on feces, keeping it picked up is essential. You should pick up any poop you find in the area where your cat spends the majority of their time. For most cat owners, this is their yard. When you go for walks, keep your cat on a leash so they can’t get to anything undesirable they find along the way.
Keep a Lid On It
Keep a lid on your trash can. This makes it difficult for flies to get inside the trash can and lay their eggs. It also keeps your cat out of the trash. If you have a particularly determined cat, you may need to latch the trash can lid to the trash can.
Store Cat Food Properly
The best way to store cat food is to use a sealed container. Plastic storage tubs work well for large amounts of cat food. For smaller amounts, a cereal container is perfect. This keeps the food fresh longer and prevents flies from getting to the food to lay eggs.
Avoiding Dead Animals
It goes without saying to remove any dead animals you find on your property. You’ll need to dispose of them properly. Burying a dead animal is an option, but your cat may dig the animal up.
Many areas allow you to place dead animals in the trash. You’ll need to place it in a garbage bag. Tie the bag or seal it with tape. You can then put it in your dumpster. In some areas, you may be able to call sanitation and have them pick the animal up the next day.
When handling any dead animal, especially wildlife, avoid touching the animal if possible. If you must touch it with your hands, use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly once the process is complete.
Can maggots live inside a cat?
In short, no. At least not if your cat ingests them. Maggots can’t survive a cat’s stomach acid. This stomach acid is also what allows them to eat many things that would make a human violently ill, like trash or roadkill.
Maggot Skin Infestation
Flesh is a maggot’s favorite meal, regardless of whether the animal is dead or alive. The biggest problem maggots themselves pose is wound infestation.
If your cat is exposed to maggots and has a wound, maggots can get into the wound. It’s also possible for a fly to lay eggs in the wound, which also causes maggots as the larva hatches.
Fly eggs hatch within 1 to 2 days of being laid. Hundreds of maggots will infest the area and begin feeding. They will feed off the flesh, making the wound bigger. If allowed to continue, the maggots can actually eat a hole in the cat, and even reach internal organs.
In addition to eating through the wound, maggots will release toxins into the cat’s body. This can cause lethargy, fever, and shock. Left untreated, a maggot infestation can be deadly within two weeks.
Maggot infestations are easy to see, because they will be visible in the wound. If your cat has long hair, they can be harder to spot. It’s important to inspect your cat’s skin and fur at least once a week to check for maggots, fleas, and skin issues.
Maggot infestation is treatable, but it must be performed by your vet. Never try to kill maggots on your cat yourself. The methods used to kill maggots can also harm your cat.