Can Cats Eat House Centipedes? Feline Feasts and Cautions

Cats are known to hunt and prey on various creatures, including insects. House centipedes, with their numerous legs and swift speed, may spark curiosity in cats and become their next target.

However, a common question among cat owners is whether it’s safe for their feline friend to eat house centipedes. In this article, we’ll explore the potential risks and benefits associated with cats consuming these insects. We’ll also compare their nutritional values and discuss the possible side effects for a well-rounded perspective.

Can Cats Eat House Centipedes?

Dangers of Ingesting Centipedes

Cats might be tempted to eat house centipedes due to their instinctual hunting behavior. However, ingesting centipedes can pose potential risks to cats. If a cat consumes a house centipede, they might experience an upset stomach.

While house centipedes aren’t toxic to cats, there can be other hazards if they’re found inside the home. The presence of house centipedes might indicate an abundance of other pests, such as silverfish and cockroaches, which can also pose problems for your feline friend.

Instinctual Hunting Behavior

Cats are natural-born hunters, and they might be inclined to stalk and capture house centipedes that enter their territory. Their instincts to hunt can be driven by:

  • Curiosity
  • Playfulness
  • Prey drive

Common indicators of a cat’s hunting behavior:

  • Stalking
  • Pouncing
  • Biting
  • Swatting

It’s essential to monitor your cat’s interaction with house centipedes and other pests. Maintaining a clean home and addressing pest problems promptly can help minimize the risks associated with both centipedes and other household pests.

Comparison table: House Centipedes vs. Other Common Pests

Pest Risk to Cats Control Measures
House Centipedes Low Clean home, address moisture issues
Silverfish Low Clean home, use pest control products
Cockroaches Moderate Clean home, use pest control products, seal entry points
Common House Spiders Low Clean home, remove clutter, seal entry points

In conclusion, cats can eat house centipedes, but it’s essential to monitor their behavior and protect them from potential dangers associated with these pests. Maintaining a clean environment and addressing any pest problems can help ensure your cat’s safety and well-being.

Centipede Venom and Bites

Effects on Cats

Centipede bites can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms in cats, such as:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Itching

Though not typically fatal, centipede bites may cause more severe symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and even paralysis in rare cases. The toxicity of a centipede bite varies depending on the species of centipede. For example, the Texas redheaded centipede is known to be more venomous than the common house centipede.

Common House Centipede vs. Texas Redheaded Centipede

Centipede Venom Toxicity
House Centipede Mild
Texas Redheaded Centipede Moderate

How to Treat a Cat’s Centipede Bite

If your cat has been bitten by a centipede, consider the following steps:

  1. Monitor for signs of an allergic reaction: Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, severe swelling, or rapid heart rate.
  2. Clean the bite area: Gently wash the area with warm water and mild soap.
  3. Reduce swelling: Apply a cold compress to help alleviate inflammation.
  4. Visit the vet: If the symptoms become severe or do not improve, consult with a veterinarian for further treatment.

In conclusion, centipede bites can cause discomfort and mild symptoms in cats, but they are generally not life-threatening. By closely monitoring your cat’s health after a bite and seeking appropriate medical attention when necessary, you can help ensure their well-being.

House Centipedes as Pests

Dealing with Infestations

House centipedes are a common type of pest found in homes, often residing in damp and warm areas such as basements. They feed on other insects such as spiders, roaches, flies, and silverfish, which might indicate a larger infestation problem if they are frequently seen in your home 1.

Some characteristics of house centipedes include:

  • Brown to grayish-yellow body
  • 15 pairs of long, slender legs
  • Three dark stripes running along the top of the body 2

While they do not pose any direct threat to humans or pets, they can be a nuisance and an unwelcome sight to many homeowners. It is important to note that house centipedes do not transmit diseases and that their presence is often an indication of other pests residing in their vicinity.

Here is a comparison table of common house pests:

Insect Diet Habitat Risk to humans
House centipedes Insects Damp, warm areas None
Spiders Insects Dark, hidden spaces Varies (some are venomous)
Roaches Decomposing organic material Warm, moist areas Possible disease transmission
Silverfish Carbohydrates Humid, dark areas None (but can damage books, papers, and textiles)

To control house centipedes, consider the following methods:

  • Reducing moisture in your home
  • Sealing cracks and other entry points
  • Maintaining a clean and clutter-free environment

While completely eliminating house centipedes may be difficult, these preventative measures can help in reducing their population and overall presence within your home.

Now, assessing whether cats can eat house centipedes safely is essential. Although your feline friend might be tempted to indulge in a lively and crunchy snack, there might be some gastrointestinal parasites or infections associated with consuming insects 3. It is advisable to discourage your cat from eating house centipedes to avoid any potential health risks.

Alternative Prey for Cats

Safe Bugs for Cats to Hunt

Cats are natural hunters, and they often enjoy chasing and catching various insects and bugs. Here is a list of safe bugs for cats to hunt:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Flies

It’s important to note that some insects can be harmful to cats, so always be cautious when allowing your feline friend to hunt. Some dangerous bugs include:

  • Scorpions
  • Giant red-headed centipedes
  • Bees
  • Fire ants

When it comes to insects found in Texas, many of them can pose a threat to your cat’s safety. If you’re unsure about which bugs are safe for your kitten, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and prevent them from hunting potentially dangerous insects.

Here’s a comparison table of safe and unsafe bugs for cats:

Safe Bugs Unsafe Bugs
Grasshoppers Scorpions
Crickets Giant red-headed centipedes
Beetles Bees
Flies Fire ants

Avoid letting your cat hunt insects like roaches and spiders, as these creatures can carry diseases and parasites that could harm your pet. Cockroaches, especially, can be contaminated with various pathogens that may lead to respiratory and gastrointestinal issues in cats.

To summarize, when choosing alternative prey for your cat, it’s essential to consider the safety aspect. Stick to insects like grasshoppers and crickets which are relatively harmless, and steer clear of dangerous bugs such as scorpions and fire ants.

Ensuring Cat Health and Safety

Keeping Cats Away from Centipedes

Cats may encounter various types of centipedes, such as house centipedes or the more dangerous giant redheaded centipedes. To protect your furry friends, consider these tips:

  • Cleanliness: Keep the house clean and free from clutter, reducing hiding spots for centipedes.
  • Seal Entrances: Close off any gaps, cracks, or openings that could let centipedes inside.
  • Use Natural Repellents: Opt for non-toxic options like essential oils or diatomaceous earth.

For example, lavender and eucalyptus essential oils help deter insects while being safe for pets.

Veterinarian Care and Prevention

Regular visits to the veterinarian can help identify and treat potential health concerns, such as parasites and other harmful insects that cats could encounter, like the brown recluse.

Some key aspects of veterinarian care include:

  • Vaccinations: Ensure vaccinations are up-to-date to protect against various diseases.
  • Parasite Control: Administer flea, tick, and worm treatments to keep your pet cat healthy.
  • Dietary Consultations: Get advice on proper nutrition, vitamins, and cat food that best suits your pet’s needs.
House Centipede Bite Brown Recluse Bite
Mild to moderate pain Severe pain and tissue damage
Minimal venom effect Potentially life-threatening venom

When it comes to your cat’s health and safety, working with a veterinarian and taking preventive measures will ensure that potential threats like house centipedes are addressed promptly. Keep your cat’s environment clean, sealed, and free from toxins, and maintain a healthy diet by consulting with your veterinarian for personalized advice.

Footnotes

  1. Penn State Extension – House Centipedes

  2. Horticulture and Home Pest News – House Centipede

  3. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine – Gastrointestinal Parasites of Cats

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – House Centipede

 

wierd, 30 legged bug
Sun, Oct 12, 2008 at 7:55 AM
looks something like a centipede, but only has 30, long, almost spider like legs. The feet aren’t sticky as it cant crawl out of my kitchen sink. It’s body is long, and thin. About an inch long. It has a black strip down its back.
???
Connecticut US

House Centipede
House Centipede

Dear Puzzled,
30 is the correct number of legs for a common House Centipede.  These frightening but harmless creatures will eat other household intruders like roaches and spiders.

Letter 2 – House Centipede

 

Another house centipede
This picture is a really up close and personal picture of a house centipede which at this very moment seems to be stalking a fly that is on the wall not far from it. I got this picture a few minutes ago, and figured you might like another to add to your collection. I send it to you in unaltered full 2592x1944x24bit color. The picture makes him look significantly larger than he is, he is in fact about an inch long, not counting legs or antennae. Matthew
St Louis, MO

Hi Matthew,
Since we always keep a House Centipede image on our homepage, your excellent photo will replace the one that has been there for several weeks. The little guy appearing larger than reality is no problem since our frightened readers are constantly exaggerating the size of these helpful creatures.

Letter 3 – House Centipede

 

2nd try, I forgot to attach
OK, I did not kill it, I would never kill a bug What is this guy? I just moved across country and know nothing of bugs here. He was big.. he was cool. I let him go in the yard after his photo shoot hehe. Is he dangerous to my kids/pets? TY, I love you guys and use you more then you know!
Robin Lewis

Hi Robin,
Because of the frequency of queries, and because of the nearly worldwide distribution, we always keep a photo of a harmless House Centipede on our homepage. Actually, more than harmless, they are beneficial predators. Thanks for doing a good deed and releasing it.

Letter 4 – House Centipede

 

Bug with lots of legs
We found this on the wall of our apartment. It moved quite fast. I’ve never seen anything with this many legs, apart from centipedes and millipedes, and am really curious to know what this is!
Best regards,
Thomas

Hi Thomas,
This is a House Centipede and it is harmless. It is the subject of numerous letters to our site and we are happy to have a new image for our homepage.

Letter 5 – House Centipede

 

Monster in my bathtub!
I found this freaky creature in my tub on November 15th 2005. I live in Redlands, California which is located in the southern part of the state. It had tenticles out either end and has stripes going lengthwise down it’s body. It had many legs, I’d say about 11 or 12 legs on each side. It was about 2 inches in length total from antenna to antenna. I think I have possibly seen relatives of this bug in my toilet when I’ve come home from vacation, but I could be wrong.
Christina Coffield

Hi Christina,
Somehow, we don’t think your House Centipede died of natural causes. We do find the Disney ruler somewhat amusing.

Letter 6 – House Centipede

 

What’s this bug?
We sprayed our basement last night and this morning found this, probably dead…I haven’t checked…laying on my daughter’s play mats so I’d like to know what it is, and if it’s dangerous. Thanks! I have more pictures if needed. The bug is approximately 2 1/2 inches long, not including legs.
Cathie
“Mushroom Fluff!”

Hi Cathie,
The poor dead House Centipede is harmless to you and your daughter, though when they rapidly dart across the room, usually at night, they often startle people who tend to fear them. They are common enough in homes where they eagerly dispatch other unwanted household intruders by devouring them. They feast on roaches, flies, spiders and many other small invertebrates.

Letter 7 – House Centipede

 


Hello –
Can you help identify this bug? See attached pic.
Thanks,
Lisa

Hi Lisa,
This is a House Centipede, the subject of numerous questions on our site.

Letter 8 – House Centipede

 

House Centipede
Hey Bugman,
What a great site! Google led me to you, where I was able to identify this wicked little "fast scurrier", as my 8-year-old daughter put it when she found him in her room. Luckily she seems to be fascinated by him and is not worried that he scurried down the wall and onto her exact-same-color carpet and is living somewhere in her bedroom at this point. He’ll have lots of daddy-longlegs to eat around here and I hope he sticks around a bit. Never in my life have I seen anything like this, although I think these House Centipedes get the award for "most-photographed" on your site, so they’re obviously fairly common. We also have some pretty phenomenal pictures of preying mantids mating as well as the egg sacks hatching. I’ll send some pics on to you for your site when I can. Thanx!
Joy Greene, and Callie, too

Hi Joy and Callie,
Thanks for the nice letter and a new photo of a House Centipede for our homepage.

Letter 9 – House Centipede

 

photo of house centipede
in case you might like to use it. thanks for your helpful site!
Jana

Thanks Jana,
It is one of the best photos for identification we have received of this terrifying, to so many people, and fascinating creature.

Letter 10 – House Centipede

 

Mr. Bugman,
What a great site! I’ve had this bug in my house that I’ve never figured out. I finally ran into your site and found it! From your reply to another person, it is a house centipede. Sadly to say, the bug did not live over a day in an open container. It seemed like it was frozen the way it died; everything was stiff. I know you have tons of pictures already, but here’s a couple more when the bug was still alive. Anwyays..keep up the awesome work on your site.
Herbie – Tracy, California

Thanks for the new image Herbie. Because images and letters on our homepage are time sensitive, we always like getting new images of common critters so they will be prominently located at the top of our homepage where visitors with attention deficit syndrome can easily locate them without scrolling too far.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – House Centipede

 

wierd, 30 legged bug
Sun, Oct 12, 2008 at 7:55 AM
looks something like a centipede, but only has 30, long, almost spider like legs. The feet aren’t sticky as it cant crawl out of my kitchen sink. It’s body is long, and thin. About an inch long. It has a black strip down its back.
???
Connecticut US

House Centipede
House Centipede

Dear Puzzled,
30 is the correct number of legs for a common House Centipede.  These frightening but harmless creatures will eat other household intruders like roaches and spiders.

Letter 2 – House Centipede

 

Another house centipede
This picture is a really up close and personal picture of a house centipede which at this very moment seems to be stalking a fly that is on the wall not far from it. I got this picture a few minutes ago, and figured you might like another to add to your collection. I send it to you in unaltered full 2592x1944x24bit color. The picture makes him look significantly larger than he is, he is in fact about an inch long, not counting legs or antennae. Matthew
St Louis, MO

Hi Matthew,
Since we always keep a House Centipede image on our homepage, your excellent photo will replace the one that has been there for several weeks. The little guy appearing larger than reality is no problem since our frightened readers are constantly exaggerating the size of these helpful creatures.

Letter 3 – House Centipede

 

2nd try, I forgot to attach
OK, I did not kill it, I would never kill a bug What is this guy? I just moved across country and know nothing of bugs here. He was big.. he was cool. I let him go in the yard after his photo shoot hehe. Is he dangerous to my kids/pets? TY, I love you guys and use you more then you know!
Robin Lewis

Hi Robin,
Because of the frequency of queries, and because of the nearly worldwide distribution, we always keep a photo of a harmless House Centipede on our homepage. Actually, more than harmless, they are beneficial predators. Thanks for doing a good deed and releasing it.

Letter 4 – House Centipede

 

Bug with lots of legs
We found this on the wall of our apartment. It moved quite fast. I’ve never seen anything with this many legs, apart from centipedes and millipedes, and am really curious to know what this is!
Best regards,
Thomas

Hi Thomas,
This is a House Centipede and it is harmless. It is the subject of numerous letters to our site and we are happy to have a new image for our homepage.

Letter 5 – House Centipede

 

Monster in my bathtub!
I found this freaky creature in my tub on November 15th 2005. I live in Redlands, California which is located in the southern part of the state. It had tenticles out either end and has stripes going lengthwise down it’s body. It had many legs, I’d say about 11 or 12 legs on each side. It was about 2 inches in length total from antenna to antenna. I think I have possibly seen relatives of this bug in my toilet when I’ve come home from vacation, but I could be wrong.
Christina Coffield

Hi Christina,
Somehow, we don’t think your House Centipede died of natural causes. We do find the Disney ruler somewhat amusing.

Letter 6 – House Centipede

 

What’s this bug?
We sprayed our basement last night and this morning found this, probably dead…I haven’t checked…laying on my daughter’s play mats so I’d like to know what it is, and if it’s dangerous. Thanks! I have more pictures if needed. The bug is approximately 2 1/2 inches long, not including legs.
Cathie
“Mushroom Fluff!”

Hi Cathie,
The poor dead House Centipede is harmless to you and your daughter, though when they rapidly dart across the room, usually at night, they often startle people who tend to fear them. They are common enough in homes where they eagerly dispatch other unwanted household intruders by devouring them. They feast on roaches, flies, spiders and many other small invertebrates.

Letter 7 – House Centipede

 


Hello –
Can you help identify this bug? See attached pic.
Thanks,
Lisa

Hi Lisa,
This is a House Centipede, the subject of numerous questions on our site.

Letter 8 – House Centipede

 

House Centipede
Hey Bugman,
What a great site! Google led me to you, where I was able to identify this wicked little "fast scurrier", as my 8-year-old daughter put it when she found him in her room. Luckily she seems to be fascinated by him and is not worried that he scurried down the wall and onto her exact-same-color carpet and is living somewhere in her bedroom at this point. He’ll have lots of daddy-longlegs to eat around here and I hope he sticks around a bit. Never in my life have I seen anything like this, although I think these House Centipedes get the award for "most-photographed" on your site, so they’re obviously fairly common. We also have some pretty phenomenal pictures of preying mantids mating as well as the egg sacks hatching. I’ll send some pics on to you for your site when I can. Thanx!
Joy Greene, and Callie, too

Hi Joy and Callie,
Thanks for the nice letter and a new photo of a House Centipede for our homepage.

Letter 9 – House Centipede

 

photo of house centipede
in case you might like to use it. thanks for your helpful site!
Jana

Thanks Jana,
It is one of the best photos for identification we have received of this terrifying, to so many people, and fascinating creature.

Letter 10 – House Centipede

 

Mr. Bugman,
What a great site! I’ve had this bug in my house that I’ve never figured out. I finally ran into your site and found it! From your reply to another person, it is a house centipede. Sadly to say, the bug did not live over a day in an open container. It seemed like it was frozen the way it died; everything was stiff. I know you have tons of pictures already, but here’s a couple more when the bug was still alive. Anwyays..keep up the awesome work on your site.
Herbie – Tracy, California

Thanks for the new image Herbie. Because images and letters on our homepage are time sensitive, we always like getting new images of common critters so they will be prominently located at the top of our homepage where visitors with attention deficit syndrome can easily locate them without scrolling too far.

Authors

  • Daniel Marlos

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

28 thoughts on “Can Cats Eat House Centipedes? Feline Feasts and Cautions”

  1. this creature is not a centipede but a common silver fish, they are related to the centipede as you can see. they often live in cold and dark areas. be carful they can be invasive to your home.

    Reply
  2. I’ve seen these at my friends house in Ohio They can get big . I noticed one when I had to get into the crawl space under the kitchen. I am not sure if they bite humans but they sure a freaky looking.

    Reply
  3. I have never understood how people can confuse house centipedes with silverfish. However, it was due to that confusion that I was able to identify this critter that nearly gave me a heart attack when I first saw one in the kitchen. I was looking for information on silverfish when I came across a photo someone had posted and incorrectly labeled, which then led me to the correct identification.

    We recently had one prowling around in the bathroom. Biggest one I’ve ever seen. It has disappeared now. So have the silverfish. And the ants. We still have some spiders, but probably not for long, as I’m sure our friendly house centipede is still lurking somewhere….

    The question is, once the centipedes have dispatched all the other invaders, what do you do with the centipedes?

    Reply
  4. ok this bug has been a pest in are home we see them upto 3 inches long sometimes cant get rid of them my wife is being bit buy them and just dont know how to get rid of them i know they kill cockroaches and spiders but man were infested with them

    Reply
  5. I found one of these things yesterday at work sure freaked me out but did not know what it was that you for the help everyone

    Reply
  6. I found a dead one of these in my uncles basement in Italy! I loved the creepy look and I was hoping that it would be something rare and have some cool long name but i was unfortunately disappointed lol. Oh well! ( I loved the creature so much that I put it in an empty tic tac box and took it back home to England haha! When I told my friends they said” eeeww, it looks disgusting and you could of brought the plague!” Lol)

    Reply
  7. It really look creepy!!!
    I just flushed one 2inches about,my wife was screaming like someone strangling her I ran to her and damn it creepy.
    Does it bites and make you itchy? cause it looks like it does .

    Reply
  8. I drown one in insecticide before looking it up. Didn’t know it was one of the good bugs. My house has always been spider city. I wake up bites all the time. Maybe this one had buddies.

    Reply
  9. I just had one in my home! My fiance split this freaky thing in half apparently after making a comment or more like a Shriek of “what’s that” Shrugged it off as a spider after counting the smashed legs on the curtain and continued playing music on my Bluetooth speaker and saw a weird spider hybrid of some origin I flipped and killed it obviously but I only thought to count up legs after the fact. The legs from my fiancées encounter and mine equaled 30! These things are freaky if you haven’t seen them before. They can survive getting their back legs and assuming back torso as well. WTF.

    Reply
  10. Just found one in my room! I’m scared to death lol I don’t like bugs at all. I took a pic and turned to get a shoe and it was gone. Do they bite humans or JUST eat other insects because I’m not going back in my room until I find out.

    Reply
    • We would not eliminate the possibility of a large House Centipede biting a person, but we cannot recall a report to our site of a person being bitten by a House Centipede, and we have many House Centipede postings.

      Reply
  11. Your positive, knowledgeable, kindly comments and gentle reprimands for the sad but widespread misinformation concerning small creatures in our environment are deeply appreciated. I really enjoy What’s That Bug– thank you very much!

    Reply
  12. My mother found and killed a strange insect that had a completely circular body and at least 12-20 legs. From leg to leg it was about 5 1/2″ in diameter. She drew a sketch of it and took it to our local museum and they had no clue as to what it could’ve been. Does anyone have any ideas?

    Reply
    • Is your mother in Botswana or in Chicago? Wildlife in Botswana is very different from wildlife in Chicago.
      Please send any images you would like identified using the Ask WTB? link on our site.

      Reply
  13. For last two years during i have been invaded by centimetres .why?and how too get rid of them,I’ve used ortho home defence they just keep coming back.Help!!

    Reply
  14. Just found one in my bathroom as I was getting out of the shower, I have three cats are they in any danger? I took a pic of it turned to text my roommates and it shocked the hell out of me as how fast it was and it was running towards me, what to do?

    Reply
  15. I read that centipedes, while relatively harmless, feed on other bugs so if you are seeing a lot of them, it may be because they have a large food source which might mean other pests

    Reply
  16. I saw one like this so that’s I try to reaserch it what we called it now I know but I want to know if a have poison or no..this kinds of species is to fast running so that’s hard to catch it.

    Reply

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