Don't Let it Bug You!
Published on Monday, August 17, 2009 12:31 PM
Written by Margaret Gates
It's been a while since my last blog. I have a good excuse! My computer was down for over a week after my cat Kai shorted out the power supply on my computer. He claims he was only marking his territory, but I really have to congratulate him on his excellent aim!
Everyone knows cats like to eat bugs. In our house, it's part of their job. But is it just because bugs trigger the hunting instinct in cats by being wiggly and running away? Is it a good idea to let your cat eat bugs? The answer is yes! Just be sure it's not a venomous or stinging insect. Bugs not only provide amusement for your cat, but also are highly nutritious. Cats in the wild will eat insects as a natural part of their diet, as do many carnivores, scavengers and omnivores. Insects are just too good to pass up when you have to catch your own dinner.
According to studies investigating insects for their potential as poultry feed, grasshoppers and crickets are about 70% moisture. On a dry matter basis (DM), grasshoppers are about 65% protein
, 8.3% fat, and 8.7% chitin.¹
Being mostly indigestible, chitin is similar to fiber in effect. Crickets are about 58% protein, 10.3% fat, and 8.7% chitin.²
Ants are between 42% and 67% protein.³
Compare these numbers with more traditional fare for cats: Mice are about 66% moisture, 59% protein (DM) and 20% fat (DM). Domestic rabbits are about 74% moisture, 65% protein (DM) and 16% fat (DM). Chicken is 68% moisture, 42% protein (DM) and 37% fat (DM).⁴ Insects start to look like a pretty good food!
, an important and essential amino acid
for cats, is also present at high levels in insects.⁵
Any naturally occurring taurine is a great addition to your cat's diet.
So, next time your cat finds a bug, just say "Go for it kitty!"
Margaret Gates is the founder the Feline Nutrition Foundation.
5. R. Huxtable, "Physiological Actions of Taurine," Physiological Reviews 72, 1992, 101-163.