Brood X will emerge this month. Sounds ominous, but we’re only talking about the cyclical comeback of the 17-year cicada brood for 2021!

Though not everyone is a fan of cicada season, many animals certainly are. That may include the cats for which you care. So ahead of the cicadas’ long-awaited reemergence, Alley Cat Allies wants to give you the rundown of what to expect for cats and kittens during this unique natural phenomenon.

What’s the Deal with Cicada Season for 2021?

There are many species of cicada, some of which are seen every year and others every 13 years. But this month, the largest cicada brood — known as Brood X or the Great Eastern Brood—is making its first comeback since 2004 in the U.S. east coast and midwest.

How Long Will Cicadas Stay in 2021?

For four to six weeks, the cicadas will fill the air with cacophonous mating songs, copulate, and generally get underfoot.

Female cicadas will lay their eggs in tree and shrub branches, then fall to the ground and die. In the next weeks, the baby cicadas (called nymphs) will hatch, drop to the earth, and burrow down to start the cycle anew.

If our environment remains healthy enough, we’ll see them again in 2038!

Will Cicadas Hurt Cats?

Cicadas can be intimidating with their crimson eyes, formidable size (they can grow to 2 inches!), and shrill, alarm-like buzzing, but they are harmless.

These big lugs of bugs don’t sting or bite. They feed on plant fluids, have no interest in any part of animals, and couldn’t nibble even if they wanted to. Mostly they will just run into things as they bumble about seeking mates.

There is no need to be concerned for cats who have inevitable run-ins with our cicada friends.

Do Cats Eat Cicadas?

Yes, though not every cat will indulge. Truth is, cats generally eat a lot of bugs, especially community cats outdoors. As opportunistic feeders, community cats make a meal of what is readily available. A study found that they primarily hunt and consume insects and rodents, as well as food discarded by people.

And since Brood X cicadas are more concerned with procreation than predators, they don’t do much to avoid becoming lunch. In essence, the Brood X emergence will be a feast for much of the animal world, including cats.

To learn more about what cats really eat, visit alleycat.org/Biology.

What If My Cat Eats a Cicada? Are Cicadas Poisonous to Cats?

Cicadas are not poisonous. If a cat eats a cicada, she will for the most part just enjoy a filling, high-protein snack! The only cause for concern is the cicada’s tough, crunchy, chitinous exoskeleton, which is difficult for cats to digest and can be abrasive to their stomach lining. If cats and dogs overindulge on cicadas, they can experience some stomach upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. 

Any digestive tract issues are typically short-term and not serious, but we recommend trying to limit the number of cicadas your pet cats and dogs eat if possible. However, if you can’t, there’s little reason to worry. Just keep an eye out for signs of discomfort and take an animal to the veterinarian if necessary. 

For community cats, best care practices will help limit their cicada intake. If caregivers provide plenty of food on a consistent schedule, cats will have less reason to stalk a flying treat.  

Enjoy Cicada Brood Season!

If the Brood X cicadas come out in your neck of the woods, there’s no need to be alarmed for cats and kittens. Just try to enjoy their emergence as the amazing phenomenon it is. After all, it will be 17 long years until we see them again!