Some cats will rip into any food they come across, while others will only go for their favorite cat food brands. When it comes to the ones that eat anything and everything, make sure they are not habituated to eating dog food as well. A few bites from stolen dog food will certainly not hurt your kitty or have any lasting effects. It only becomes a problem for their health and wellbeing when eating dog on a daily basis.
Can cats really eat dog food?
This is a question that often comes up from pet owners. Maybe you caught your cat stealing a few nibbles from the food left in your dog’s bowl. Now you’re wondering if your kitty will suffer from stomach upset later. What about that one day you’re completely busy and didn’t get the time to rush downtown and get some more cat food. Is it safe to give the cat a little bit of the dog food?
Well, the answer to the questions concerning cats and dog food is yes, cats can eat dog food. A little bit of dog food will not hurt your beloved cat. But it should only be used as an emergency solution and on a short term. There is a key reason why cats should not eat dog food on a regular basis. Cats and dogs have varying nutritional requirements. In addition, the dietary requirements for cats tend to be quite specific.
Why cats can’t eat dog in the long term
The dietary needs for cats and dogs are quite different. For starters, dogs are omnivores, meaning they take on a more varied diet consisting of meat, grains and vegetables. In that case, meat alone will most certainly not meet the nutritional needs of a dog.
On the other hand, cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they eat meat and thrive on it exclusively. The cats need a diet made up of meat-based protein and fats to live a healthy and fulfilling life. Therefore, feeding your cat food that’s meant for dogs on a daily basis will make them malnourished because of a lack of the correct balance of vital nutrients. It will also lead to the development of a wide range of health complications such as gastrointestinal issues and heart disease.
What do cats need to eat to remain healthy?
As mentioned, our kitties thrive on a diet composed of meat-based proteins and fats. Here is an overview of the dietary requirements for cats;
- Protein from mainly meat or fish
- Amino acids notably taurine and arginine
- Fatty acids
According to the renowned veterinarians, a cat’s diet should be composed of at least 35 to 45 percent protein.
The difference between cat food and dog food
There are definitely several differences in the formulation of both cat food and dog food. For instance, cat food is often higher in proteins, fats and also some vitamins and minerals. Another thing about cat food is the smell and flavor. Cats do have a strong sense of smell and detect flavor in a different way from dogs. On that note, let’s outline the differences between the two pet foods.
Certain amino acids like taurine and arginine are essential for the health and wellbeing of your kitty. This is mainly because your cat’s body lacks the enzymes required to make these essential amino acids. When your cat lacks these amino acids in the body, he or she can suffer fatal health problems. For instance, taurine deficiency in cats might cause blindness and even worse an enlarged heart. Dogs on the other hand are able to synthesize taurine in their bodies and that’s why it’s lower in their dietary requirements.
Additionally, cats need a higher dietary level of protein than dogs. They derive their energy from protein metabolism. This only means that feeding your cat dog food on regular basis will most certainly lead to protein deficiency or worsen the deficiency of some specific amino acids such as taurine.
Another thing is that cats and dogs have different requirements for some vitamins. Take for instance vitamin A plays a key role in maintaining the health of your cat’s eyes, skin and coat. That being said, dogs have the ability to produce vitamin A, while cats do not. That’s why dog food has lower quantities of this vitamin than cat food.
Arachidonic acid is basically an essential fatty acid that cats can’t produce in their bodies and hence must be ingested. It’s provided in their diets through the commercial cat food. That said, dogs are pretty much capable of creating this fatty acid by themselves and you will rarely find dog food supplemented with it.
Cats have fewer taste buds compared to dogs. This is the reason why cat foods are often designed to be super palatable. Remember, cats are quite picky eaters and may likely refuse to eat anything they don’t find tasty.
Not only do cats have specific nutritional requirements but these also change according to the life stages. The fast growing kittens need more energy sources and nutrients to support healthy growth. Older cats typically need more protein for muscle maintenance as they age. Dog food with an imbalance of the specific nutrients will certainly not sustain a cat in any of the life stages.
My cat accidentally ate dog food, what should I do?
If your kitty decides to dig into dog food left in the bowl, don’t worry. Dog food is not toxic or dangerous to cats in any way. Cats can eat dog food without falling ill but the only issue is it will not provide any nutritional value or help your kitty achieve the best health and nutrition. Thus, if your cat steals a few pieces of your dog’s snacks, there is nothing to be concerned about. But remember, cats can’t thrive on dog food on a long term.
When your kitty lacks the right balance of nutrients and proteins, they lose muscle mass and suddenly become lethargic. Therefore, ensure she is feeding on the specific cat food for her life stage. Keep dog food out of sight so that your cat focuses only on food meant for her.