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Do Cats Eat Squirrels? Is It Healthy for Them?

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat and squirrel climbing tree

Do Cats Eat Squirrels? Is It Healthy for Them?

Cats are quirky animals, and you never know what they are going to do next. They don’t follow the pack or do what humans want them to do. So, even when we provide our kitties with an abundantly nutritional diet, they may decide to go off on their own and kill prey to eat as a snack. It may be surprising to learn what kinds of animals a cat will hunt and eat.

For instance, cats can and do hunt and eat squirrels. The practice isn’t common, but it can happen when the opportunity presents itself. So, is it healthy for cats to eat squirrels? Let’s explore the answer to that question and more below.

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Is It Safe for Cats to Chase and Kill Squirrels?

Cats will chase a squirrel whenever they get the chance. However, doing so can be dangerous. Squirrels have sharp nails and teeth, and they can easily injure a cat that is attacking them. However, cats are larger, stronger, and usually quicker than squirrels when a fight ensues, so they typically win in the end.

Also, wild squirrels can carry dangerous diseases that can infect your cat during a fight. Diseases that can be passed on from squirrels to humans and cats include:

  • Lyme Disease — This can result in headaches, arthritis, fatigue, and even heart palpitations. The disease can be successfully treated if caught early.
  • Tularemia — The signs of this disease include fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and painful skin ulcers. Antibiotics typically cure the disease.
  • Rabies — While it’s rare for squirrels to transmit rabies to humans, they can more easily do so to cats. Signs include headache, fever, insomnia, and paralysis. If you suspect a wild squirrel has bitten your cat, you should immediately have them tested for rabies.
  • Salmonellosis — Squirrels can become infected with salmonella bacteria when eating rotten food from garbage cans, and they can pass the disease on to your cat if they fight or kill and eat the squirrel. Signs of salmonella disease include vomiting, intestinal discomfort, and diarrhea. Hydration is a primary component of treatment.
black cat chasing squirrel
Image Credit: James Sakaguchi, Shutterstock

Therefore, allowing your cat to chase squirrels is not a good idea if you can help it, but if your cat does happen to catch a squirrel and eat it, don’t panic. Call your veterinarian to find out whether you should schedule an appointment. They will let you know which signs to look for that could indicate a severe problem and the need for immediate attention.

Is Eating Squirrels Healthy for Cats?

In addition to possibly being exposed to various diseases and getting injured during the fight, there are other reasons that eating squirrels may not be healthy for cats. For instance, the bones of the squirrel could get lodged in a cat’s throat and cause them to choke. If the bone does not dislodge, it can cause death.

It is also important to note that there are benefits if your cat eats a squirrel. First, catching a squirrel requires exerting energy, which will surely provide your kitty with great exercise. Second, eating squirrels can fill in any nutritional gaps that might be present in your cat’s diet. However, the benefits don’t outweigh the risks for domesticated cats that live in household settings.

cat captured a red squirrel
Image By: Florian Levassort, Shutterstock

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What Is a Cat’s Typical Diet?

As carnivores, cats require animal protein as the main staple in their diet. Wild and stray cats hunt rats, mice, birds, and other small mammals. They might catch a squirrel occasionally, but domesticated cats rely on their human companions to provide food. High-quality commercial cat food that includes chicken, beef, or fish provides your kitty with the nutrients they need for good health.

persian cat eating dry food
Image By: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

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In Conclusion

Cats can eat squirrels, but it could be dangerous for them. The more squirrels that a cat eats, the more susceptible they are to the dangers of doing so, like contracting a disease. Fortunately, most pet cats have plenty to eat at home, and after chasing spiders, cockroaches, and mice, they don’t have much interest in trying to take down squirrels.

Featured Image Credit: NadyGinzburg, Shutterstock

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