We've all seen cats eat the occasional bug, but would it be safe to give our feline food with insects as a regular protein source?
According to Untamed Cat Food, cited below, "Insect-based cat food—usually called insect cat food—essentially includes products infused with proteins harvested from farmed insects."
That doesn't mean you should sprinkle dead bugs on your kitty's supper. Insects intended for food are processed like regular meat, and insect-based cat meals look just like typical cat food. However, it's still a change from what you've been doing. If you are considering trying cat food infused with insects, be aware of a few pros and cons.
A positive aspect of insect-based cat food is that it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. According to Excited Cats, cited below, "The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [also cited below] has stated that not only are insects no different than other protein sources, like beef, chicken, fish, and pork but also that their protein levels can be even higher, as much as 60% higher in some species of insects."
Another important advantage to insect-based cat food is that it's produced with less impact on the environment. It requires less water and energy than traditional animal farming. Excited Cats notes, "Insect farming is accomplished with much fewer resources, produces almost no ammonia and methane, and doesn't require antibiotics or hormones."
Insect-based cat food might be helpful if you have a cat with food allergies. Veterinarians say protein is usually the culprit in food sensitivities. Excited Cats note that insects are generally better tolerated by your cat than traditional protein sources like beef or chicken.
Despite the United Nation's positive opinion, there is some scientific skepticism. In 2021, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved using whole dried black soldier fly larvae in adult dog food but has not yet reviewed insects in adult cat food.
The higher price of insect-infused foods might be a factor for some pet parents. Excited Cats reports that insect-based cat food is "even more expensive than most higher-end cat food."
And lastly, the "ick" factor of insect-based cat or dog food might also deter consumers.
Excited Cats notes that, "Analysts report the size of the insect-based pet food market was valued at 7.73 billion in 2022 and is predicted to reach 16.72 billion by the year 2031. "
While yet to be mainstream in America in 2023, a quick search online can reveal a couple of Canadian-based companies that will ship orders of insect protein-based food and treats to cat parents in the US. But before you try insect-based treats or food, consult with your veterinarian to ensure it's suitable and safe for your cat.
Quote to remember: "If it involves bugs, count me in." - The Cat
Untamed Cat Food
"Are the workings of insect cat food bugging you? Untamed unravels the buzz!"
"Insect-Based Cat Food: Pros, Cons, & FAQs"
Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
"Insects for food and feed"