Do Cats Eat Butterflies? (Quick Answer)

Last updated on September 3rd, 2022

Cats are hunters, and it is natural for them to find insects and creepy crawlies in your home. 

However, insects aren’t exactly considered food items for felines. In fact, they might be better off consuming mice, fish, or even frogs, but do cats eat butterflies?

Cats do eat butterflies because they’re easily identifiable and their colorful wings don’t help them camouflage, however, when butterflies hover over a certain distance, they can stay out of a cat’s reach but as soon as they touch the ground & close their wings, the cat will swat them with its paws.

Why do cats eat butterflies?

It is not just butterflies; cats love to eat several insects that are commonly found in your home.

Because butterflies are natural prey for cats, you will find that the felines love hunting insects.

In the case of butterflies, the attractive wings and the swift movement of the insect make it attractive prey for your pet.

Just like your cat will follow a bright light when you move it randomly in the hope of catching it, your pet cat will follow the butterfly to catch and consume it.

Are butterflies harmful to cats?

Most insects and bugs are harmless to cats and there are no recorded cases of butterflies being harmful to cats.

Butterflies and moths are entirely non-toxic to cats, and pursuing these insects can be a good exercise for domestic cats.

However, a monarch butterfly can be toxic to cats.

What will happen if a cat eats a monarch butterfly?

The monarch butterfly is one of those species of butterflies that can prove to be poisonous if consumed by animals.

The primary reason for this is when the butterfly is in the caterpillar stage, it usually consumes the milkweed plant leaves to survive and develop into the pupal stage.

The milkweed plant is poisonous; some toxins are retained when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

As a result, any animal, even a cat, can get poisoned if it consumes a monarch butterfly.

But the distinctive pattern of the monarch butterfly indicates to animals to avoid hunting it as it can prove to be poisonous to most predators.

What should you do if you see your cat has fallen ill after eating a butterfly?

First and foremost, you should make contact with your local veterinarian.

In most cases, it is not the butterfly that has caused your cat to fall ill but the pesticides you have used to keep your house free of insects and bugs that result in gastrointestinal distress.

If you spray any insect repellent in your home, ensure it is pet-friendly.

All insects, including butterflies, will be affected by these insect repellents.

If your cat eats a butterfly that has been affected by a repellent, it is bound to feel the effects of the insecticide.

In such a situation, you need to take your pet to the veterinarian to get it treated.

Do cats eat the wings of butterflies?

Yes, cats eat the entire insect. For example, they will eat the butterfly’s wings and the body. In most cases, the body of a butterfly is relatively tiny, and most of it is wings. Hence, when the cat hunts a butterfly and eats the insect, it will eat the entire insect.

Do kittens hunt butterflies?

cat chasing orange butterfly 27082022

It is probably the most adorable thing to see kittens trying to catch a butterfly, but usually, kittens are not adept at hunting or holding down a swift-flying butterfly.

Kittens can pursue butterflies because they are energetic and love to run after bright and attractive things but cannot effectively catch insects.

Sometimes butterflies can come quite close to kittens, and you might see them brushing off the butterflies.

Kittens have to learn hunting and their mothers usually teach them. Once they learn how to hunt, they can pursue butterflies.

Can butterflies be of any nutritional value to your cat?

In the wild, you will find that feral cats hunt different types of insects, and as insects are rich in nitrogen, these can add to the overall nutritional intake of the felines.

However, you do not need to give insects to your pet cat.

Butterflies are rich in nitrogen, and if you find your pet cat eating one, you can be assured that it will add it your pet’s nutritional intake for the day.

But that does not mean you need to change the food you give to your pet cat.

In the wild, cats will not only hunt butterflies, moths, and insects but also rodents and other small animals that they see scurrying across the forest floor.

Should you try to keep your garden free of butterflies if you have a pet cat?

Butterflies can be one of the easiest ways of ensuring that your pet cat gets sufficient exercise.

It would help if you did not use any repellent that prevents butterflies from entering your garden. These insects are essential for your plants and your cat.

When your cat chases a butterfly, chances are high that your cat will be unsuccessful in killing the insect.

But chasing a butterfly is an excellent exercise, and on the off-chance that it catches the insect, it will get an excellent supply of vitamins, proteins, and minerals for the day!

However, if you are a caretaker of butterflies, it must be very difficult for you to watch your beloved butterflies being chased by a cat. 

A reader (Johanna) recently pointed out that a cat will kill about 20 butterflies a day in her garden and in her words “A butterfly closes its wings and there you go. The cat puts his paws around it. Peanuts for a cat.”

It is worth noting that a butterfly hovering over certain areas and flying around, out of a cat’s reach is when the exercise kicks in for your feline pet but the moment the insect reaches the ground and closes its wings, it lights out for the insect.

How to keep butterflies away without repellents

You should make sure that there are no repellents around your home. You can buy products that repel butterflies, but these may harm your pets.

  • You can also place some sticky tape on the windows so that the butterflies do not enter your house.
  • You can also put up a net over your garden so that the butterflies do not fly into your garden.
  • You can even purchase a butterfly trap which is designed to attract butterflies and then capture them which you can then release into an open area.

If cats can eat butterflies, can they eat caterpillars?

It would naturally worry you if you own a cat and see it trying to eat a caterpillar.

They are slow-moving compared to butterflies and easy prey for cats. But, cats usually avoid caterpillars, especially ones that grow into moths.

One reason is that caterpillars taste bitter and have barb-like hairs throughout their body. Hence, they avoid eating caterpillars.

Can insects prove to be toxic to cats?

Butterflies and moths can be toxic to cats. Similarly, some caterpillars as well can be harmful to your feline.

If you find your cat is suffering from gastrointestinal distress or is vomiting after consuming a bug, you should take it to a veterinarian.

Sometimes a cat can inadvertently consume a spider, and the arachnid’s venom can be dangerous for your pet.

In such a scenario, your vet can help your cat and provide the necessary medicines to counteract the venom.

Here are 11 insects that are poisonous to cats.

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