What are some cat-safe cockroach extermination methods?
October 13, 2004 10:40 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend an effective cat-safe cockroach extermination measure? I have a roach infestation problem in my apartment. I've sprayed the nooks and crannies with Raid, plugged the cracks with Combat Gel in the cracks, left a dozen traps in a dozen corners, and mercilessly kill any roach I see, but their population is not dropping. I'm Googling and Froogling about for possibilities, but firsthand accounts would be great. Again, I need something cat-safe.
posted by brownpau to Home & Garden (21 answers total)
posted by LimePi at 11:52 PM on October 13, 2004

If you can put the cats up for the night somewhere, you ought to be able to have professional fumigators take care of the problem. If professionals can't do it, yeah, move.
posted by majick at 12:01 AM on October 14, 2004

In an ideal situation, your cats should be hunting down the cockroaches and chasting them through the house. My cat did that as well as the cats of my friends.

Perhaps you should get new cats? :)
posted by rks404 at 12:14 AM on October 14, 2004

If your apartment is one of many in the same building and the entire building isn't fumigated symultaneously, any measure you take alone will be only temporarily successful, at best. They'll just move next door untill you're done with anything you try alone.

You need to get your landlord/building management/other residents involved, or it's futile. If they're not interested, LimePi nailed it.
posted by normy at 12:37 AM on October 14, 2004

I second move. You have filthy neighbours and they will never go away. I've lived in over 20 apartments, many quite cheap and modest, and have never had a cockroach problem. Even in NYC when we hat rats in one place, we never had bugs.
posted by sixdifferentways at 12:38 AM on October 14, 2004

Two suggestions:

-The other day, I accidently found out that cockroaches die when you squirt washing up liquid on them.

-Roach motels
posted by dydecker at 2:17 AM on October 14, 2004

1. Call up landlord, explain the situation. Explain that you need the place to be completely fumigated. If he refuses...

2. Call up your local Department of Sanitation/Environment and complain that you have an infestation problem that is not being addresses by your landlord. Give them your landlord's name, address and phone number. I had to do this once when I lived in Brooklyn.

If your neighbors are dirty bastards, though, there's nothing you can do from preventing them from coming right back after the place has cleared out.

Keep this little factoid in your head: a cockroach can live off of the nutrients in the glue off a postage stamp for a month.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:56 AM on October 14, 2004

Keep this little factoid in your head: a cockroach can live off of the nutrients in the glue off a postage stamp for a month.

posted by Jairus at 3:03 AM on October 14, 2004

Move? Damn, that's an expensive pest control solution! Finding an apartment that you like and can afford in a big city is no easy thing. Brownpau, have you been using boric acid? (I think that's what's used in Roach Motels.) In my experience, this can take a while to show an effect, but eventually you see results. Here's a page with good recommendations. I'm thinking that the suggestions here about eliminating water sources are extra-important, because, really, as Civil_ says, cockroaches can ingest just about anything, so it's almost impossible to get rid of all potential food sources.
posted by taz at 3:10 AM on October 14, 2004

There's probably no chemical means of eliminating your roach buddies which won't harm your cat.

Geckos might eat your roaches, but the cat would probably eat the geckos.

Keeping your apartment subfreezing for a while, or setting it on fire, would probably work - but those methods are obviously impractical or less than prudent.

Here's a little roach tale for you : \

The Roach Tale

A friend of mine lived in almost indescribably nasty apartment : the sort of place with old plates of moldy food lying on the couch and the floor, and beer bottles filled with urine occupying any level spot - out of the main traffic paths - which was not otherwise occupied by trash, clutter, and filth : the type of place which would make all but the most the stout hearted turn tail and run.

And there were roaches : a superior strain which my friend had created through a succession of half assed roach bombing campaigns. The problem was, I suspect, that there were just too many places for the roaches to hide amidst the filth and so - after a half dozen partially successful (read as unsuccessful) attempts, the selective roach culling produced a strain of roach which was smallish, unbelievably quick, and highly resistant to common fumigants.

I periodically took it on myself to help my friend clean his unbelievably filthy apartment, and during one of these philanthropic crusades my friend started throwing things away wholesale and I made the mistake of taking a beautiful antique dresser he was chucking.

I looked through it and emptied all the drawers - then put the dresser in the back of my station wagon. There it sat for a few weeks - my intuition was to quarantine it at least a bit - and so, fortunately, the resulting contagion didn't reach my apartment.

One day, my girlfriend was driving the car and a roach fell off the sun visor onto her head and she almost careened off the road : the car had become completely infested. The roaches were thriving on their diet of ten years' worth of accumulated crumbs and probably even the very stuff of which car interiors are made - glue, cardboard, various fiber materials - and they had multiplied into an army.

A that point, many less scrupulous people might have set the car on fire and collected the insurance money - except that it was ten years old and worth little - or just paid neighborhood gang kids to steal it and torch it or roll it into a lake.

But I needed the transportation. So, I roach bombed it.

I set off a whole pack of roach bombs - extra strength - inside the car with all the windows rolled up. After the first bombing, hundreds - maybe thousands - crawled out of the seats and crevices of the vehicle during their death throes.

But there were survivors still scuttling about. Roaches, I recently learned, actually move up off their other legs when they hit top speed : they run on two legs then, like humans.

I bombed the car two more times - three times in all. The third bombing was for insurance.

The third time was the charm.
posted by troutfishing at 5:18 AM on October 14, 2004 [1 favorite]

Roach paste. You buy it in a tube and put it various and sundry places where the roaches are...the instructions will help you with that.

I lived in apartments with roach problems, and once we started using that, within a couple of weeks, no problem atall.
posted by konolia at 5:37 AM on October 14, 2004

Here in Taiwan, cats are the cockroach solution.

That is, the cats eat the cockroaches.

posted by alidarbac at 5:40 AM on October 14, 2004

Is roach paste sort of like tomato paste ?
posted by troutfishing at 5:41 AM on October 14, 2004

Reading this is making me physically ill. No roaches here. Just spiders that look like mini tarantulas. Had one of THOSE drop onto my head from the viser in traffic one day, nearly crapped my panties.

My cats eat every other insect around, so do the dogs (although the only thing to eat around here is june bugs and those only once a year for about a month or two). You sure your cat won't take them on? No more cat food bills for you.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:45 AM on October 14, 2004


Thanks for the morning laugh!

After living in my apartment for more than 2 years I began to see the odd roach. At first, not being bothered by insects and living in a clean place, I ignored them. However their population grew and I became angry so I lay a few traps.

Then they built nests in my dishwasher and coffee maker. Let me assure you that I will never forget the odor of roasting cockroaches as the dishwasher heated and cooked them in their doorway oven. Let me also be very clear that it is not pleasant to run water through your coffee maker and find little bits of roaches floating in the pot (how long I'd been obliviously drinking roach coffee I shudder to contemplate).

I had my place fumigated and baited to no avail. They kept coming back. Then I went for the no water trick, moved my dog's food and water to the bedroom and spread boric acid liberally in ever crack and crevice. This seems to have worked so far (about a month).
posted by batboy at 6:58 AM on October 14, 2004

When I lived in NYC I refused the landlord's fumigation service and used Combat roach traps instead. They claimed that the roaches take the poison back to the nests, where it kills them all off, and that it should last for 3 months. It worked well, but like clockwork, every two months roaches started to appear again, and if I didn't change the traps right away my apartment quickly turned into a scene from a horror movie.

On the other hand, it only worked because everyone else in the building got fumigated. If your neighbors have roaches, LimePi's answer is your only choice.
posted by fuzz at 7:18 AM on October 14, 2004

I have 2 cats. Last winter I saw a couple of roaches in my kitchen and office. I totally freaked as I've been through similar infestations as described above. I called a professional fumigation service. They came out and put down bait, which was safe for my cats. They also put out these little sticky cards to track the roach's migration. It did the trick and my kitties were just fine.

My advice, hire a professional at the first sign of a roach. When you see one, it's guaranteed that there are hundreds more lurking in the dark recesses of your home.
posted by Juicylicious at 7:57 AM on October 14, 2004

troutfishing, once in college I did let two geckos loose in a large house that had a roach problem (after poison didn't work), and it was a huge success--the roaches disappeared in a couple days, and over the next year or so we only saw the geckos a couple times. They are nocturnal and stayed out of our way.

To some, the idea of lizards in your house is worse than cockroaches, but to us two invisible lizards was a lot better than hundreds of relatively visible insects, and the geckos didn't eat our Cheerios.

The cat did catch one of them eventually, but the remaining gecko seemed to keep the insect population in check by itself.
posted by hashashin at 5:43 PM on October 14, 2004

all i can think of as i read this thread is the Salt Lake City scene in Damnation Alley.

have never had a roach problem, but will vouch for geckos being great mosquito killers.
posted by th3ph17 at 5:54 PM on October 14, 2004

I lived above a prominent restaurant in Portland, and when they stopped using a good exterminator, well, the whole building was infested. (It wasn't as bad as finding roaches under my omelette or smushed in my milk glass while in the Army, but close.) They nuked the place a few times and the problem was gone. (Well, out of sight, out of mind.)
I have to reiterate that unless your apartment is hermetically sealed off from the rest of the building, you must hope what gets done to one apartment gets done to all.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 6:09 PM on October 14, 2004

All this talk of roaches reminds me that I must watch Joe's Apartment again...
posted by floanna at 7:37 AM on October 15, 2004

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