Does Feeding Your Cat Also Feed the Roaches?

The question of whether cat food attracts roaches is an important one for pet owners. Cockroaches are omnivorous insects that can survive on a wide variety of foods. Their ability to eat just about anything allows them to thrive in human homes where food waste and pet food may be readily available.

Roaches are especially attracted to food sources that are high in protein, carbohydrates, and fats. As pet food is formulated to provide balanced nutrition for cats, it contains many of the nutrients roaches seek out. The protein and fat content of both wet and dry cat food can lure roaches in. Understanding the connection between cat food and roaches is key for controlling potential infestations.

Roaches Are Omnivores

a roach scurrying across a kitchen floor.

Roaches are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter [1]. They will eat almost anything they can find. Roaches particularly thrive on starchy and sugary foods like bread, cereals, sweets, fruits, and vegetables [2]. However, roaches also readily consume proteins from meat, fish, dairy products, and pet food.

Cat Food Contains Proteins

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat animal-based proteins to survive. Both dry and wet cat food contain meat proteins as the main ingredient. According to Iams, common protein sources in cat food include chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, salmon, tuna, and eggs.[1] Meat meals, such as chicken meal or fish meal, are also rich sources of concentrated protein.

The exact ingredients depend on the specific cat food formula. High-quality, natural cat foods tend to have fresh meats, meat meals, and minimal plant proteins like peas or potatoes. More affordable cat foods may use plant proteins like corn, wheat, or soybeans as fillers. Cats can utilize plant proteins, but animal proteins are more nutritionally complete.

Both dry and wet cat foods provide the proteins cats need in their diet. Wet foods typically have higher moisture content with fresh meat as the first ingredient. Dry foods have concentrated meat meals and require extra hydration. Checking the ingredients list can help identify the protein sources in any cat food.

Roaches Are Attracted to Cat Food

Both dry and wet cat food can attract roaches due to the protein sources these foods contain. According to research, roaches are omnivores that will eat nearly anything, including grains and meat [1]. The high protein content in cat food, whether dry kibble or canned wet food, provides an appealing food source for roaches.

roaches gathered around a bowl of cat food.

Dry cat food contains proteins like chicken, fish, beef, and pork. The kibble is also coated in fats and oils, which roaches find tasty. Similarly, canned wet cat food has high amounts of meat and fish proteins in gravy or sauce. Roaches are drawn to both the protein and the moisture in wet cat foods [2]. So both dry and wet cat foods can attract roaches due to their appealing nutritional content and flavors.

Wet Food is Especially Appealing

Canned or wet cat food contains a lot more moisture compared to dry kibble. Roaches need water to survive, so the high moisture content makes wet food very appealing to them. According to Pest Control Services Inc., “Cockroaches love dog and cat food. If you have a dog or cat, do not just leave food out for them to help themselves throughout the day. Instead, feed them at regular mealtimes and pick up any leftovers.”

In addition to the high moisture content, wet cat food also has an appealing odor and taste for roaches. The strong smells attract the roaches to the food. Roaches are omnivores and will eat both plant and animal matter, so wet cat food provides nutrients they seek.

Due to the high moisture content and appealing taste and smell, wet cat food left out can quickly lead to an infestation if consumed by roaches. It’s important to store wet food securely and clean up any leftovers to limit roach access.

Cat Food Provides Sustenance

Roaches are able to meet their nutritional needs by eating cat food. As omnivores, roaches require a balanced diet containing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to survive and reproduce. Both wet and dry cat food contain ample amounts of protein from animal sources as well as carbohydrates, which provide roaches with the key macronutrients they need. According to research from the University of Florida, roaches are able to thrive when cat food is their primary food source ( The protein levels in high-quality cat foods are sufficient to sustain roaches. In addition, the moisture content in wet food gives roaches the water they require. With a ready supply of cat food available, roaches are able to easily meet their dietary requirements and continue breeding.

Cat Food Can Lead to Infestations

A bowl of cat food can attract dozens of roaches [1]. Roaches are omnivores and will eat both wet and dry cat food. The food provides protein and nutrients that roaches need to survive and reproduce. Once roaches find a food source, they will return frequently and often bring more roaches with them. This can quickly lead to an infestation if cat food is left out regularly.

Roaches are especially attracted to moist or wet cat food. The strong odor draws them in initially. As social insects, roaches leave pheromone trails that lead others back to the same location. Over time, more and more roaches will converge on the cat food, seeing it as an ideal feeding ground. An owner may start by seeing just a few roaches, but soon dozens could appear overnight.

How to Limit Roach Access

There are steps you can take to limit a roach’s access to your cat’s food and help deter an infestation:

cat food stored in an airtight container.

Don’t leave cat food out overnight. Roaches are most active at night, so leaving cat food accessible overnight gives them ample opportunity to feast. Pick up your cat’s food bowls before you go to bed.

Clean up any spills right away. Roaches can smell food particles from great distances. Be diligent about wiping up any crumbs or leftover wet cat food immediately so roaches aren’t attracted to the area.

Store cat food in sealed containers. Keep dry cat food in airtight plastic or glass containers rather than the original bag. You can also store any canned wet food in Tupperware containers in the refrigerator to prevent access.

Keeping cat food tightly sealed and inaccessible to roaches will help limit an infestation (Source). Be proactive in cleaning up after feedings and limiting overnight access.

Other Methods to Deter Roaches

In addition to removing food sources, there are other effective methods for deterring roaches from your kitchen.

using roach traps to catch roaches in a home.

Using roach baits and traps can help catch and kill roaches. Place these in areas where you have seen roach activity, like under appliances, behind the fridge, and in cabinets. Bait stations contain poison that roaches eat and bring back to the nest to kill other roaches.

Eliminating water sources is also key, as roaches need water to survive. Fix any leaky pipes or faucets and empty excess water from sinks, pots, and pans. Make sure trash and recycling is taken out regularly so moisture doesn’t accumulate.

Cleaning counters and floors frequently removes crumbs and spills that attract roaches. Sweep and mop floors, especially under appliances. Disinfect countertops and inside cabinets with antibacterial spray. Eliminate clutter where roaches can hide.

With vigilant sanitation and removal of food sources, you can help get rid of roaches and prevent future infestations in your kitchen.


In summary, roaches are omnivorous insects that are attracted to protein sources, including wet and dry cat food. Cat food provides nutrients roaches need to survive and thrive. While keeping pet food out can lead to roach infestations, there are steps pet owners can take to deter these pests, such as storing food in sealed containers, cleaning up spills right away, taking out the trash frequently, and using baits and traps. With proper precautions, cat owners can enjoy caring for their furry friends without inviting unwanted roach guests.

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