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Author Topic: Why would a cat eat spider webs?  (Read 9659 times)
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catbird
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« on: March 17, 2009, 05:01:46 PM »

I've observed some really strange behavior in Kalahari the past few days.  She is eating spider webs!

The weather has been warm, and we've opened the windows for the first time since last fall.  I haven't yet cleaned out all the debris that gets in between the storm window and the inside window.  Over the winter, we always seem to accumulate a lot of spider webs in that space.

Several times I have observed Kalahari sitting in the window, deliberately reaching up to snare spider webs, and then licking them off her paw!  She repeats until she's apparently had enough, then goes elsewhere.  At first I thought she was just playing with the spider webs and accidentally got them on her paw.  But she appears to be eating them deliberately.  (She uses the same pattern she does with dipping her paw in the aquarium to drink fish water.)

Why would a cat do this?  It doesn't seem to have made her sick or anything.  Do I just have a weird cat?  Is there some nutrient in spider webs?
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The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer--Paula Poundstone
Steve
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2009, 05:11:35 PM »

No your not alone. Never figured out why they like them.

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tesla
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« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2009, 05:23:57 PM »

I can't say I've seen mine eating spider webs before.  That's got to be funny to watch. 
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kittylyda
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« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2009, 05:31:26 PM »

I wonder if they just like the texture or something?  I have not yet seen a cat eat a spider web, but I have seen cats do other strange things like lick carpet or eat dust off the floor.
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Chelc124
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« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2009, 05:49:01 PM »

Hey Catbird. Interesting question. I decided to try and research it and I found that A LOT of people are asking the same question you are. Many just laugh and assume their cat is a little on the crazy side (but come on, what cat isn't? Wink ) . Someone even said as soon as she lets her cat out, he runs to where he knows the webs usually are and is licking his lips in anticipation. When looking up what webs of made of this is what I found:

"Spider's silk is made up of chains of amino acids. In other words, it is simply a protein (see How Food Works for details on amino acids and proteins). The two primary amino acids are glycine and alanine. "

I then went on to look up any connection between glycine/alanine and animals and found this summary of an experiment on rats and dogs:

"SUMMARY
The metabolic pathways of the deaminated residues of glycine and of alanine
have been compared indirectly by two different methods.
Absorbed from the intestine or peritoneum, alanine readily increases the
store of glycogen in the livers of fasting rats, whereas glycine does not do so.
When these amino-acids are fed to fasting dogs, alanine causes a smaller
rise in the catabolism of protein than glycine presumably because alanine but
not glycine forms sugar and so saves protein.
It is suggested, therefore, that the metabolic pathways of the deaminated
residues of alanine and of glycine are different."
-http://www.biochemj.org/bj/033/0723/0330723.pdf

Now as for bringing it all together for one easy to understand answer, who knows! Best I can make is that the cats are eating webs because either they NEED the extra protein amino acids, or maybe there is something on the web that just simply tastes yummy.  The reason we eat something isn't always because we NEED it....do we NEED french fries? Nope....but they sure taste good. Smiley
 
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catbird
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2009, 06:08:17 PM »

Chelc, that's really interesting!  Thanks for looking all that up.  At least I know now that Kalahari is not totally bizarre--sounds like quite a few cats do this, although I've not had any before who did.  Based on the description of the cat licking his lips, I'd guess it must be really tasty to them or something.  Cotton candy, anyone?

Now we need one of our cat nutritionists to take a look at those amino acids. Cheesy

The other thing I wondered about was if it gave them some kind of "high" like catnip.  Kalahari seems to behave normally after she eats the webs, though.

Kalahari is not one of my "pica" cats in general (I have two who will occasionally eat fuzz and the like.)  But I was just a little concerned, because as a kitten she once ate a dead bee and got incredibly nauseated, vomited so much that I called the emergency clinic.  I didn't want it to be something like that again.  But it sounds like it's not a harmful habit.
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The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer--Paula Poundstone
catwoods
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2009, 06:18:52 PM »

Really interesting stuff! Booper does that, too. He carefully paws at the webs. He will usually only do this right around feeding time, as though he's showing us that he's so hungry, but he only has webs to eat, and we need to get a move on.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 09:40:25 PM by catwoods » Logged
JustMe
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2009, 06:28:49 PM »

Interesting topic.

But are they really eating them because they crave them or they taste good, or just because they are stuck on their whiskers, face and paws  Wink  We all know how curious and fastidious cats are.

Ever walk into a spider web and get it stuck on your face or hands?  My immediate reaction is to "paw" at it to get it away from my face or shake my hands to get it off me. 

My cats do eat spiders and go after the webs, and the webs get stuck on their paws, then they clean their paws.  We haven't had any webs yet this year.     
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 06:31:57 PM by JustMe » Logged

Eventually they will understand,
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For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
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Steve
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2009, 06:43:16 PM »

My cats do eat spiders and go after the webs, and the webs get stuck on their paws, then they clean their paws.  We haven't had any webs yet this year.     

April caught a common grass spider once and ran into this room making a muffled meow sound. I noticed something in her mouth and thought, what the heck? She dropped it and I went . . . OH MY GAWD! . . it was big and she was pretty excited about this new toy until I smunched it with a newspaper I managed to grab. Phew!  Tongue
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 06:48:39 PM by Steve » Logged
JustMe
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2009, 06:52:52 PM »

hmmm....I forgot.  The cats like to "play" with the spiders first.  The spiders usually curl in their legs and "play dead".  If we catch them in the act and it isn't too late, we try and scoop up the spiders and put them outdoors.   I don't like the kitties doing this to them even though I find spiders yicky..... Tongue
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Eventually they will understand,
Replied the glorious cat
For I will whisper into their hearts
That I am always with them
I just am....forever and ever and ever.
Poem for Cats, author unknown

"A kitten in the animal kingdom is like a rosebud in a garden", author unknown
Steve
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Posts: 1827



« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2009, 07:00:31 PM »

We lived in Florida for a year in the 80's and our orange tabby used to catch palmetto bugs (giant cockroaches) that would once in a while manage to sneak into the place and run upstairs in the middle of the night and drop it right on the bed.

Arrrrrgh!!!  Thankfully it was rare but she was quite a bug hunter. She would also leap in the air and suck a fly into her mouth like a vacuum cleaner.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 07:02:40 PM by Steve » Logged
catbird
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2009, 07:05:56 PM »

All mine like to play with spiders too.  The cats seem to think the spiders are some neat kind of cat toy, that moves on its own.  But those are not spiders that are sitting in webs, just ones they find climbing up a wall or something.

I try to divert them when I see it, since I know that spider bites can be quite painful because of the venom they use to paralyze their prey.

There were no spiders in the webs Kalahari was eating.  These appeared to be old webs that were probably spun late last fall after we closed up the storm windows. 

Kalahari has an insect fascination in general.  The more evil and buzzing it is, the more she is intrigued.  She thinks bees and wasps are really cool.  Once she flushed out a bumblebee that had somehow gotten into our woodstove.  It stung poor Phantom in the face, and that was another emergency vet visit.  I've seen her devour June bugs, too. Tongue
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The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer--Paula Poundstone
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