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Home > Cats > Can a Cat Carry Bed Bugs & Get Bitten? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Can a Cat Carry Bed Bugs & Get Bitten? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you know someone who’s dealt with a bedbug infestation, you know what an itchy, infuriating situation it can become. Of course, you want to avoid this happening to you, which may lead you to wonder if your cat can carry bed bugs. Cats don’t serve as hosts for the insects and can’t spread them like they do fleas, although the pests could hitch a ride on a kitty’s fur as they do with human clothing.

In this article, we’ll tell you a little about bedbugs, how they impact your cat, and signs you have an infestation. We’ll also examine how to keep your cat safe if your house must be treated for bedbugs.


What Are Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small, flat-bodied, flightless insects that survive on the blood of humans and animals. They don’t build nests but live in large groups in hiding spots. One of their favorite places to hide is in mattresses and box springs, as you might have guessed from their name.

Bed bugs feed at night, which is another reason they like to live in beds with easy access to sleeping humans. They reproduce and develop quickly, which is one reason that an infestation is hard to eradicate.

Do Cats Carry Bed Bugs?

Unlike fleas or lice, bed bugs don’t live on animals but in the environment. Because of this, cats don’t technically carry or spread the insects.

Bed bugs spread to a new environment because they hide in furniture, luggage, or clothing and hitch a ride to a new location. Used mattresses and furniture are major culprits for spreading the pests.

In theory, bed bugs could hide in a cat’s fur long enough to infest a previously pest-free house. However, this is not considered a primary source of spread.

Cat with fleas
Image By: Maja Marjanovic, Shutterstock

Do Bed Bugs Bite Cats?

Bed bugs feed on anything with circulating blood, and they bite cats. You probably won’t spot the actual bugs on your kitty like you would fleas because bed bugs only feed for 3–10 minutes before dropping off.

Bed bug bites are similar in size to flea bites but don’t have a red spot in the center. Flea preventatives won’t have an impact on bed bugs either unless they’re designed to combat them. If your cat is up-to-date on preventative treatments and suddenly has itchy bites with no sign of fleas on their body, check their bedding for signs of a bed bug infestation.

Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation

Unexplained insect bites are generally one of the first signs people notice of a bedbug infestation. Other key indicators include:

  • Blood spots on human or pet bedding
  • Dark bed bug poop spots on walls or sheets
  • Debris from bed bug molting or egg hatching near hiding spots
  • Unexplained musty odor

Be especially suspicious that you have bed bugs if you’ve recently traveled, had guests, or added used furniture to your house. Check your mattress, bed frame, box spring, and near bedroom walls for signs the pests have taken up residence.

Keeping Your Cat Safe During Bed Bug Treatment

If you have bed bugs, you’ll need the help of a pest control company to deal with them, probably over multiple visits. To keep your cat safe, make sure the company knows that you have pets and only use an EPA-approved product to kill the bugs. Ask if there are any precautions you should take even with pet-safe products.

If your cat’s bed or stuffed toys can be safely machine-washed and dried, you don’t necessarily need to toss them to get rid of the bedbugs. Washing in the hottest water and drying at medium-high heat should kill the pests. If you can’t wash them, put them in the dryer for 10–20 minutes on high heat.

If you prefer to buy new items for your cat once bedbug treatment is complete, seal the bed bug-infested toys or beds in a trash bag and make sure they’re labeled as such before tossing them.

young man taking out garbage in black plastic bag
Image By: Alina Kruk, Shutterstock


While your cat probably won’t carry bed bugs into your house, they can certainly fall victim to the bite of the parasites. Buying used furniture or clothing is an excellent way to save money and minimize your environmental impact, but it can also bring bed bugs into your house. Familiarize yourself with the signs of bedbug infestation we discussed, and carefully check your new furniture. If you find bedbugs in your house, they can be treated. Unlike other parasites like mosquitos and fleas, bed bugs don’t carry diseases, and you won’t have to worry about you and your feline getting sick from the bites.

Featured Image Credit: KanphotoSS, Shutterstock

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