Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
Many cats seem to go out of their way to eat dog food. Sometimes the grass is greener on your neighbor’s lawn, and sometimes the food on someone else’s plate looks better. While you probably wouldn’t spoil your neighbor’s property or steal food from someone else’s plate, cats probably would.
Even if the tasty morsel is in a large dog’s food bowl, a cat may gently eat it when the dog’s attention is distracted.
It seems counterintuitive that cats should not have dog food. There are cases where cats prefer dog food, and it appears to be essentially the same. Could it be a problem if you feed your cat dog food? Are other issues than provoking an identity crisis?
Would it be okay for a cat to eat dog food?
The most straightforward answer is: not daily. The more detailed explanation is that dog food does not contain all the necessary vitamins, nutrients, and amino acids that cat food does. It’s not healthy, it’s not moist enough, and it’s not even tasty.
Why is dog food harmful for cats?
Cats and dogs are two very different animals. This does not only refer to temperament or appearance. They are entirely different on a biological level and have different nutritional needs. A dog may prefer meat but is an omnivore. A cat is an obligate carnivore. Cats also need more moisture, which is not enough in most dog foods.
Cat food is formulated for a cat’s nutritional needs, and dog food is prepared for a dog’s dietary needs. A comparison of ingredient labels reveals three fundamental differences between cat food and dog food.
Dog Food Lacks Vitamin A
Cats need vitamin A. A deficiency of vitamin A in cats can lead to night blindness, poor fur, and weak muscles. The cat’s immune system needs vitamin A daily. Kittens especially need vitamin A to promote growth and neurological development. Vitamin A is found in the liver, fish oil, and egg yolks.
As a carnivore, a cat has a greater tolerance to vitamin A than an omnivore and a greater need. The recommended daily vitamin A dose for cats is between 650 – 850 IU (international units).
Dog Food Lacks Taurine
Taurine is an essential amino acid mainly found in organ meats. Cats cannot provide their taurine and must be fed taurine-rich foods. This essential nutrient is typically lacking in dog food. Taurine is required for cats’ eyes, ears, and hearts to function correctly. To aid digestion, taurine binds to bile acids.
Similar to a vitamin A deficiency, a cat with a taurine deficiency may experience night blindness and weak immunity. Dog foods often do not contain taurine, nor are they necessary because dogs can make their own.
Dog Food Contains Too Little Protein
Cats have a higher protein requirement than dogs. The minimum protein content in dog food is 18 to 24 percent; this percentage is used globally.
The available amount of protein that should be present in cat food is 25 percent. In addition, dog food may contain proteins from plant sources such as soybeans. This won’t provide your cat with the nutrients it needs.
Can Cats Occasionally Eat Dog Food as a Snack?
It’s unlikely your cat will want that. When compared to cat food, dog food is frequently bland in flavor. But you know what they say about cats and curiosity. Fortunately, this is one instance in which a curious nibble will not be fatal.
Dog food contains nothing toxic to cats, but it lacks nutritional value. A bite here and there won’t hurt her as long as she doesn’t stuff herself with dog food and keeps eating her own.
Cat Prohibition: Preventing Them From Eating the Dogs Food
Cats who suddenly show an interest in dog food are likely just looking for a diet change. Introduce her to safe cat snacks whenever she wants a snack. When feeding your cats, it may be helpful to do this twice a day and ensure they eat it. Leaving food in the food bowl for them to chew on whenever they want leads to bad eating habits.
Keeping dog food out of reach of animals with razor-sharp claws and Olympic jumping skills can be tricky. Consider purchasing metal containers if your cat has no problem with plastic containers.
So Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
No! Cats should not eat dog food. Cats have unique nutritional needs, and unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to survive. Taurine and arginine are essential nutrients a cat should eat daily; those two critical nutrients are only found in the heart.
Can Dog Food Harm My Cat?
An occasional bite of dog food won’t harm your cat. But cat foods are specially formulated for a cat’s needs, containing more protein, specific vitamins, and fatty acids. It’s possible that feeding your cat a dog food diet will lead to severe malnourishment.
Can Cats Survive on Dog Food?
At least not regularly, and certainly NOT as an exclusive diet. Here’s why cats shouldn’t eat dog food: While some dogs may contain extra vitamin A, many don’t have the amounts a cat needs for a lifetime of optimal health. Second, taurine is an amino acid that all cats need.
There are many valid reasons for making one type of dog food and one type of cat food. Their nutritional needs are too different, and feeding a cat dog food deprives her of the necessary nutrients. Your cat needs vitamin A, taurine, and plenty of protein that the average dog food doesn’t provide.
While an occasional bite of dog food won’t harm your curious cat, she shouldn’t keep doing it to the point where she loses her appetite for the food she’s supposed to be eating. As a cat parent, it’s your job to ensure your cats eat what they need. Most cats don’t even like dog food, but if your eccentric cat is eating more of your dog’s food than is good for her, you may need to take steps to stop her.
Your cat needs to eat cat food. It’s that simple.
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