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Spiders - Is It OK If Cats Eat Them?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Now that spring is here, spiders have decided it's time to come and visit. Thankfully the cats find them. They want to play with them and eat them. The thing is, are they harmful to the cats?

Can they bite the cats? More importantly, can a spider bite kill a cat? (I killed a brown recluse last year, but that was the only one I ever found, have not seen any since)

Can eating them make the cats sick?

If anyone knows please please let me know. I am terrified of the blasted things as it is and when the cats do find one and I take away their toy by killing it, they are *not* happy campers. Samson especially gives me this angry sulking "Why the heck did you do that for?" look. Poor thing. If I knew the spiders weren't a threat to them, I would let them have at it!


post #2 of 17
YES eating a venoumous spider can kill a cat ... Normally cats just kill them and due to thicker skin than humans they are not as likely to have an adverse afect from a spider...

I nearly lost a dog ( a 15 lber so cat size) to a spider bite , she was in anaphalatic shock when I got her into the ER vet clinic...
post #3 of 17
My rule of thumb at this point is to kill or take away any insect they go after, because I've tried to research several different kinds of bugs, and the online information is scarce, and often contradictory. With spiders, it's so hard to tell what's poisonous and what's not (we do have Brown Recluse spiders and Black Widows in Western PA, and I wouldn't recognize a Brown Recluse if it sat up and waved at me), so I just kill all of them.

The biggest worries (for me) are stinging insects (bees, wasps, hornets, yellowjackets, etc)...they get into the house occasionally, and if your pet catches them, they can sting the inside of their mouth or even the esophagus, leading to the same reaction that sharky described. I had a friend lose her chocolate Lab to a bee sting inside his mouth.

Also, for you or any others who are curious about other pests...a few I've researched which are more common in our house than spiders: stink bugs and thousand-leggers (linking to this editorial for "local flavor" - funniest portrayal I've seen of one of the most hideous creatures on earth).
- I've seen pretty consistent info that stink bugs are harmless if the cat or dog gets them, but I still take them away from Sophie if she starts playing with one, because, well - she reeks! Also, if the cat keeps toying with them, the longer they're at it, the more odor the bug will release into the room, making it necessary to air out the room for hours to fully get rid of the smell. So, they shouldn't harm the cat, but they will make them pretty smelly.
- Thousand-leggers, I find little consistent information (I've found the writer's info from the article I linked above to be incorrect - the bugs in question are Scutigera Coleoptrata, or house centipedes, and they can bite, although it's very rare). The main problem with these guys is that there are so many different varieties of insect that are regionally referred to as "thousand-leggers," that sometimes it's hard to tell if you're looking at the right insect when researching them. For instance, the southwestern centipedes (with the reddish, chitinous bodies) are far more poisonous and likely to cause harm. I've found no solid discussion on whether the Mid-Atlantic version has a chance to bite/poison a house pet that ingests them, so I'm playing it safe with these guys too (and really, even if they ARE harmless, can you imagine your cat coming over for a nose-bump and leaving little crunchy legs on you?!)
post #4 of 17
A deadly spider (Brown Recluse, Black Widow, White Tail) Depending on your region. They will kill a kitty, however the little 'house spiders or garden spiders' are nothing but a fun game of "kill" Lol. We have spider legs laying around all the time.

If you have venomous spiders in the home or in a building around there, get the bug bomb that kills them! I hate spiders (skin crawls)

best of luck! mwah!
post #5 of 17
Originally Posted by Luvmy10 View Post
A deadly spider (Brown Recluse, Black Widow, White Tail) Depending on your region. They will kill a kitty, however the little 'house spiders or garden spiders' are nothing but a fun game of "kill" Lol. We have spider legs laying around all the time.

If you have venomous spiders in the home or in a building around there, get the bug bomb that kills them! I hate spiders (skin crawls)

best of luck! mwah!
Just a FYI all spiders are venomous, mouth size and fang strength play a role ! A house spider in some regions is a HOBO which is like a brown recluse without being easy to identify. Another thought a bite may not be "venomous" but often causes a allergic reaction in the victim
post #6 of 17
I know a brown recluse when I see him and a black widow, and I kill them as soon as I do! LOL.

I dont think we have many other venomous bugsys like that. Mine murder spiders that actually live to get in the door. They don't "eat" them, just kill them. And most play with the dead bodies that are left from when someone steps on them and not knowing it. Lol!
post #7 of 17
Do you live in a house or an apartment? If house you can go get barrier sprays, or have it professionally done, that will keep a lot of insects and arachnids out. (I need to go get more of the ortho barrier spray tomorrow because our ants are out )

Other things you can do: clean up outside. Make sure there's nothing over grown around the house that can serve as refuge to spiders who like having somewhere to hide.
Your other area is inside. Clean and organize. Don't make your home a spider haven. Regularly vacuum corners, move furniture and vacuum under it. If junk is piled up in your garage, chances are you don't need most of the stuff - have a garage sale. You can also do a barrier spray in garages.

And always be very careful going through any old boxes in garages and sheds. If you can wear gloves do so, and don't just reach in before looking.

It's better to prevent problems then it is to worry after someone gets bit.
post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Wow! Thank you all for your very very helpful input, I really appreciate it!

I live in an apt. so thankfully we have a bug guy who comes once a month to spray, which is helping a lot. Unfortunately there is shrubbery and flowers growing outside near the windows. I will check to see if the outside is sprayed, if not, I will spray myself with a can of Raid.

Yes we also have those "centipedes" <shudders> can't stand them! They are the soft shelled ones with legs all around. I read that they eat other bugs like spiders and that if you see them in your house, it is a sign that you have a lot of bugs present <shudders>. I've been killing those whenever I see one.

Oh I am so glad I've not been letting the cats play with the spiders! Thank you all once again!

post #9 of 17
look into diatomecous earth ... the food grade not pool.. it helps alot... Plus Instead of Raid I use cheap dish soap in a sprayer it works
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by Shanynne View Post
I read that they eat other bugs like spiders and that if you see them in your house, it is a sign that you have a lot of bugs present <shudders>. I've been killing those whenever I see one.
Not necessarily. You said there's a lot of stuff planted around the place - that's the likely reason. Really, you should just get a cup and paper or pencil and corral them into the cup and toss them outside away from the building. They may be creepy looking, but they serve their purpose. A lot of the spiders you find wandering about, and not hiding, are types of hunting spiders. They, too, eat a lot of other spiders. Some of your common little jumping spiders are quite specialized in it (and harmless to you and the cats).

As for the Raid, I don't suggest aerosol cans of anything and in that situation you'd risk breathing too much of it in. The stuff we use is supposed to be a plant based spray - it's pump spray and last for several months. The reason we use it is because DE is useless outside (rain and wind here) and cannot be applied around windows. I still recommend if you go this route yourself that you wear a mask, make sure it's not windy at all, and when you come inside shower and change clothes.
post #11 of 17
I don't even think I know what a brown recluse looks like(other than being brown). I just kill 'em all.. My concern are mice and secondary poisoning. I had a cat die in my arms 15 years ago because he ate part of a poisoned mouse. That was traumatic and ugly to see.
post #12 of 17

I have been very concerned about the same thing because my cat Odie got bit by one. His neck and below his ear were all swollen and it looked abcessed but there was no injury. i could faintly see two little dots next to each other. I took him to after hours emergency and he was in surgery for two and a half hours and they lanced drained tissue sampled bloodwork. Hardly any puss came out. The tissue was thick. He has a hideous shunt and stitches in his neck and he looks like frakenstein. He gets his shunt out today, the stitches in two weeks. His ER visit was 990.00. He still has several visits left. He was bitten by a spider weather poisonous or not they can have bacteria on their mandables which creates infection. Had i not taken him in right away he would have died. I have a friend whose dog got bit by a spider and died of analytic shock on the way to the hospital. Dont mess around with strange swelling. I never saw a spider. I dont even have spiders in my house. Very rare. And my cats are hairless and never ever outside. Like my emergency vet said, it only takes one and once. Dont ignore it. And if it can bite them and do this I am sure ingesting them would be far worse!!

post #13 of 17
The replies I've read inspired me to create an account. ... First off the eating of a poisonous spider (North American spiders) will not cause a cat harm . I grew up with my cats taking down and devouring black widows , later moving to west Texas my cats devoured recluses ... And after moving to washington I just removed a hobo from my cat Loki .. With all of that said the bites from these spiders can a do harm to cats just as they do with people especially in and around the mouth , nose and pads , essentially fur-less areas . Unless you and your cat stay side by side an encounter will occur if you have seen one spider , you more then likely have more you just don't see them or your cat eats them before you see them. Cats are fast and most spiders try and run instead of biting , cats aren't natural prey for spiders so the just try to run hopefully your feline friends will eat the spider faster then it takes to piss the spider off into bite defense ! If you have real concerns please talk to your vets! And if you want to pop bug bombs consult a professional exterminator spiders are hard to kill due to the way they grow and other interesting attributes
post #14 of 17
My cats love stalking and killing bugs! I've only seen one kind of spider in my apartment and it's not a venomous one. Usually it's not spiders though, it's moths or mayflies and stuff like that. Susan in particular is a hunter and loves the chase and the kill.

If you're not sure about whether the spider is venomous and have to take it away, maybe give them a toy or a treat to make up for it?

post #15 of 17

Knowledge is power.  I see a lot of anti knowledge on this page so I created an account.  After what I have read I am surprised that nobody suggested all cats are good except black cats are bad luck.  That last phrase is anti knowledge spread by fanatics for reasons I do not know.


FACT:  it is possible to swallow rattlesnake venom with no ill effects as long as you do not have an open wound in your mouth

venoms are composed of proteins that break down in stomach acid.  They work on nerves and flesh and blood.  The stomach will render them innocuous.  People used to suck venom with their mouths until kits were made and now they say not even to use those.


FACT:  generally all spiders have fangs and venom

FACT:  only certain venom is considered dangerous if it penetrates your or your cat's SKIN

FACT:  most spiders do not have strong enough mechanical force or fang length to penetrate mammal skin

FACT:  In the United States there are very few spider species that both can penetrate skin and possess venom that is dangerous

FACT:  In the United States there are more species of spiders that can not harm a human or a cat than there are  that can

FACT: The vast majority of spiders that are capable of delivering an effective bite are more likely to cause trivial and not medically significant results

FACT: In the United States there are no indigenous spider species that see a human or cat as a meal and will not attack unprovoked (a female black widow will typically hide when big things move unless she gets used to you and decides you are not an attacking creature but will become a bit defensive/aggressive if she has eggs.)

FACT: I have lived in the presence of over 50 cats in my lifetime (I am old) and all have hunted and eaten spiders and I have never seen one bitten.

when we moved to an area with coyotes that were seen killing cats for meals we raised some indoor only cats who were inept and we tried to get spiders from them because their hunt/kill instincts had never been developed and we feared that their gentle nature while fondling spiders might get them bitten


Cats are hunters and I have seen feral cats whose primary source of nutrition was whatever they caught at night under a street lamp. Crickets, spiders, and all manner of crawly things that did not taste bad to them.  They were strong fierce hunters who I watched for many generations.


Spiders in the United States do not hunt mammals and they do not see them as something to take on in a fair fight.  They run and hide or they do not react at all. 


Each year when the weather gets cold the outdoor spiders will move indoors if they can.  I make it a point of carrying them to safety because they are useful and are not harmful to me.  I would kill a coyote with my bare hands if it was hunting my cat and have threatened a group away as they tried to surround my cat and sent them running. I would have fought to the death had they not run.   


A man by the name of Rick Vetter is a true spider expert and has written many Internet blogs and a few books.  His most recent is the first about the brown recluse ever published.   He was a professor of bugs (non technical word)  specializing in spiders at the University of California Riverside for many years.  He knows spiders like nobody else.


FACT: Most doctors and vets have no clue what a brown recluse looks like and frequently say those words for reasons I can not understand.

FACT: No brown recluse populations exist in California and there is a line (I do not remember where it is) that they have never been found past that isolates them to mostly the midwestern US.      My parents are from Missouri and Oklahoma where the brown recluse is a regular and have never been bitten.  They taught us to always shake our close and bang our shoes in the morning before dressing.  The ways of the simple country life are sometimes the most effective.   The brown recluse is not an aggressive spider it is just one that can bite and if you were to push hard against it by putting on an article of clothing where it had stopped and its fangs were turned your way then you might receive a dangerous bite but they will not hunt you and you can put your hand down and they will walk on you just like you are part of a road or tree. 






The spiders who come indoors during winter are just as happy as I am when Spring arrives and they happily vacate the house and head for the outside where they can hunt and enjoy the nice weather.


The best way to avoid spider bites is to not touch them in a threatening or pain causing manner, to make your bed and tuck the corners, to shake your clothes before wearing if you have the kind of spiders that are both capable of biting with dangerous venom and like to crawl around hunting at night and tuck into a nice spot during the day. 


If you make it impossible for penetrable skin to accidentally come into contact with fangs that are powerful enough and long enough to penetrate skin carrying a toxin that is dangerous then you will never get bitten and for the most part if your cat is not totally inept it will never let thin skin touch its prey and get bitten.


I find it really hard to believe that a cat was bitten in the ear as stated above by someone else.  Vets are not spider bite specialists.  Two holes might mean a spider bite.  Might mean a small snake bite which I find more likely but it might be possible if a big spider was crawling over the cat and the cat brushed with its paw and pressed the spider down hard enough to trigger its natural reactive biting but that really seems like a fiction based on some some small fact (two holes and swelling)  and making up a story about something not seen to try and explain the inexplicable.




Please study poisons, cats, and spiders and I think you will find that the threat of accumulated build up of toxins from using all of the sprays and powders is far greater over your lifetime than that of a small and useful creature that means you nor your cat any harm.

post #16 of 17
I know that @Winchester almost lost one of her cats to a spider bite. He'd caught and eaten the spider, but it managed to bite his windpipe on the way down. Very scary experience by the sound of it.
post #17 of 17

You did not find a Brown Recluse....what you probably saw was a Hobo Spider.  They are often mistaken for a BR.  We do not have BR in Washington state.    My cats have eaten spiders and not gotten sick or anything.  To my knowledge they have never been bitten.  We DO have Black Widows in Washington but mostly east of the mountains.  My vet in Shelton says to not worry much BUT keep an eye on them and of course if you notice them acting sick or any swelling to bring them in.

What I worry more about is bees and wasps.  The cats will chase them and I get the bug out (or kill it) before the cat can get to it.  The Bees and Wasps fly slow enough my cats can catch them, so that is more of a worry to me then spiders. 

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