VANCOUVER -- The moth outbreak in Metro Vancouver has kept housecats on the prowl all week – and chowing down on a lot of the fluttering intruders.

While many cat owners are used to seeing their pets chase, bite and eventually swallow unlucky moths, the recent influx of western hemlock loopers has resulted in a significant spike in some cats' insect intake.

But should people be concerned if their cat starts eating five, six or even more moths per day? Veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton says there's no cause for alarm, at least when cats are pigging out on helmlock loopers.

"I can't find any toxicity associated with that particular moth," Walton said Friday. "There are a few exotic moths that can be mildly toxic."

There is powder on the wings of western hemlock loopers that can irritate cats' mouths and eyes, Walton added, so owners might see their pets pawing at their faces more, but it's nothing to be concerned about.

Western hemlock looper moths

Cats are generally good about avoiding harmful insects because they will taste bitter, Walton said. Judging by how excited cats can get to catch local moths – often jumping off the walls to make a kill – they appear to taste just fine to a cat's palate.

The veterinarian suggested cats likely see themselves as hunting dangerous invaders when they stalk the fragile flying insects around the house.

"Just consider your cat to be doing a great job of keeping you safe from the evil moths. I'm sure that's the way they think of it," Walton said.