can cats eat lizards

Can Cats Eat Lizards?

Cats do eat lizards but this can put them at risk of toxicity, parasites or bacterial infection.

Your cat may also struggle to digest the lizard causing blockages.

While a cat eating a lizard is often not a cause for concern it is important to be aware of the risks and know when to contact a vet. 

A cat that has eaten a poisonous lizard may experience toxicity with symptoms including vomiting, shaking, foaming at the mouth and lethargy.

Even if the lizard isn’t poisonous, parasites can cause lethargy, fever, infection and inflammation and your cat may also experience a lack of appetite and other symptoms caused by a bacterial infection. 

Cats Are Natural Predators

Cats have a natural hunting instinct and will often try to hunt whatever smaller creatures they happen to come across during their adventures.

They are curious and will happily go and investigate sounds and smells that cross their path. 

You cannot stop a cat’s hunting behaviour but you can try to redirect it using toys and playtime that encourages them to stalk, hunt and pounce on fast-moving objects such as feathers or toy mice.

cat paw and lizard

No matter what preventative measures you put in place, the chances are high that, at some point or another, your cat will hunt a lizard.

Cats are natural enemies of lizards so it’s unlikely you’ll see many lizards around your home and garden.

However, a lizard may wander onto your property from time to time and cats are pretty quick to notice these things thanks to their keen senses.

If your cat manages to catch a lizard they may try to eat it. 

The Risks Of A Cat Eating A Lizard

Sometimes cats will just play with the lizard until they get bored but other times they will catch it and eat it.

If possible, it’s best to take the lizard away or redirect your cat’s energy elsewhere to prevent your cat from consuming the lizard.

cat playing with dead lizard

If your cat has consumed part of the lizard, photograph the rest to increase your chances of identifying the species. 

In many cases, your cat will be fine but there are risks.

The lizard could be poisonous or carrying harmful parasites. 

Poisonous Lizards 

There are many species of poisonous lizards around the world.

Many smaller lizard species are not poisonous for cats.

If your cat has eaten a poisonous or unknown species of lizard, look out for the following symptoms of toxicity in cats: 

  • Unresponsiveness 
  • Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Excessive thirst
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Vomiting 
  • A change in bathroom habits 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Erratic movement
  • Pale gums 
  • Lack of appetite 

If you notice any of these symptoms then it is important to get your cat to the vet straight away.

Poison/ toxicity needs to be treated immediately.

Lizards Carrying Parasites

Even if the lizard your cat has eaten is not poisonous, there are still a couple of health concerns to consider.

One of the main concerns is if the lizard was carrying parasites. 

If your cat eats a lizard that has parasites this can cause major digestive issues. The big issue is liver fluke parasites.

These are most commonly found in the USA and infect the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts of a cat.

Over time (it takes 8-12 weeks for liver fluke to mature) liver fluke causes severe liver inflammation. 

Symptoms of Liver Fluke Include:

  • Lethargy 
  • Weight loss 
  • Fever
  • Abdominal Distention 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Jaundice

Other Possible Issues 

Another possible, but less common, issue your cat may experience after eating a lizard is salmonella.

This is a bacteria that can cause; vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, rapid heart rate, lack of appetite and fever.

ill looking cat

While most cats can fight off salmonella it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as you see any symptoms. 

A Quick Response Is The Best Response 

Contacting the vet immediately will ensure fast action is taken and any potential threats to your cat’s health are swiftly dealt with.

If your cat shows any symptoms the vet will be able to identify the issue and treat it appropriately. 

What To Do If Your Cat Eats A Lizard

The best thing to do when your cat eats a lizard is to contact your vet.

This is particularly important if you know the lizard was a toxic species or one that carries parasites. 

TIP: If possible, take a picture of the lizard so you can show the vet as they might know the species and the main concerns related to that particular species.

cat eating lizard

Vets tend to be aware of the local species that are problematic so this can be very helpful for your cat and their treatment plan. 

You should watch your cat closely for any signs of infection or toxicity. If you notice any symptoms you need to take your cat to the vet.

Remember that issues such as parasites won’t be immediately apparent as they take time to mature. 

If your cat eats a frog or toad, the cause of action should be the same.

Watch for any changes in behaviour and take them to the vet immediately if you see any symptoms. 

Preventative Measures

It’s difficult to stop your cat from eating a lizard as lizards are small, fast and can find ways to get inside your home.

Keeping your cat inside and your doors/ windows closed as much as possible can help reduce the risk.

An indoor cat is much less likely to have interactions with lizards but it can still happen. 

When your cat is outside, the best thing you can do is keep a close eye on their behaviour.

cat sniffing lizard

Their behaviour can alert you to a lizard or something similar in the garden.

You will see your cat exhibiting stalking behaviour which may allow you to distract them before they get the lizard. 

If your cat comes and goes as they please then it’s more difficult to monitor them.

It’s important to be observant and watch for any symptoms or unusual behaviour when they return home. 

What To Do If Your Cat Brings Live Lizards Home

Some cats decide to bring lizards home and offer them to their owners as a gift.

This can be a cat’s way of showing their affection and providing their owner with food or they may even be trying to show you how to hunt.

Whatever the reason, a cat bringing you a lizard is usually a demonstration of love and appreciation. 

white cat eating lizard

It’s best to see this behaviour as a sign of affection and respond to it in this way.

Give your cat some positive attention and let them walk away before you get rid of the lizard.

If you respond negatively to the lizard “gift” your cat may see this as you saying the lizard isn’t enough and will come back with something even bigger. 

What Does It Mean If A Cat Eats Lizards Often?

If your cat seems to be catching and eating lizards frequently, they may be lacking nutrients in their usual diet.

It is a good idea to review their food and feeding schedule to ensure they are receiving enough nutrients. 

Is It Okay If A Cat Eats Lizards? 

It’s not ideal for cats to eat lizards as there are a couple of potential health issues associated with lizards.

Sometimes there are no ill effects at all, but other times your cat may suffer from toxicity, liver fluke or salmonella causing them to become unwell and require veterinary attention.