Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
There are two reasons this question can pop into your mind; either you caught your cat eating a crumb of kibble from the dog’s bowl, and you’re wondering if it is going to hurt the cat, or you have run out of cat food and do not feel like going to market.
The answer depends on the reason that bought you here in this article. If your cat has accidentally eaten the dog food or it is too difficult for you to bring the one from the market, then “Yes,” cats can eat dog food, i.e., it is not fatal for them.
But if you are just being lazy or wanting to try something different for your cat, then “No,” you cannot feed them dog food because it is not ideal for them to eat dog food continuously
An occasional or accidental food swap is not a big deal, but continuously giving canine food to your feline is not allowed at all. Doing this for too long can cause dietary restrictions in your cat.
Dog and cat food seem so similar at the supermarket, then how on earth can they not be swapped? Read the guide below to get the answer;
Dogs and Cats Have Different Nutritional Requirements
Both dogs and cats can share the same owner, but they cannot share the same food. The reason is the difference in their nutritional requirements.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that animal fats and meat-based proteins are prerequisites for proper body functioning. On the other hand, dogs are omnivores. They have a long list of options to meet their nutritional needs, such as meat, vegetables, grains, etc.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials has set some guidelines for animal and pet food. This organization works in collaboration with Food and Drug Administration to determine what a particular specie needs in different stages of its life.
You can find information on a complete and balanced nutritious diet for your dog and cat breed from websites specific to the breed. For example, a doodle website will provide reliable information on a Doodle dog’s daily food requirements, and a Ragdoll cat website will explain what this breed needs, and so on.
So the basic reason behind this objection is that dog food does not contain specific nutrients that a cat needs.
Cats are More Sensitive to Nutrition Deficiency than Dogs
There are some nutrients that a cat must need in its everyday food; they cannot afford to miss them even once. For instance, amino acid “arginine” is such nutrition that every food bowl served to your cat must have it.
Dogs, however, are much more flexible and can stand a low level of arginine in their food. Moreover, the animal body system works so that they can make their micronutrients.
Vitamin A is one such example. Both cat and dog can make it on their own, and there is no need to intake food. But there are some micronutrients that only dogs can make while cats need to take from the food, such as arachidonic acid.
Difference between Cat and Dog Food:
While the recipe looks the same, but ingredients are not at all. Key differences are;
The major portion of cat food contains animal-based protein to cater to their body requirements. On the other hand, dog food contains a steady combination of both animal and plant protein.
Besides protein sources, protein content also varies in the food of cats and dogs. For example, cat food must contain 30-34% protein in their diet, while dog food normally comprises 18-26% protein which is not enough for cats.
Cats do not need carbs in their diet, but commercial dog food contains 30-60% of carbs.
Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats. If they do not intake taurine in their diet, digestion, heart, and sight problems are inevitable in cats.
That makes taurine an important ingredient in commercial cat food, but dog food is free from taurine.
- Vitamin A
Again, Vitamin A is an essential component of cat food to keep your feline healthy. Dog food lacks enough vitamin A to ensure a balanced diet for cats
Only animal tissue can provide enough niacin content to the cat. Dog food mostly comes from grains which make this food unsuitable for cats. Sufficient meat content must be present in cat food to ensure a healthy cat life.
Cat food is much more palatable than dog food. With only 470 taste buds as compared to dogs with 1700, cats lack the ability to sense sweetness.
It is generally odd for the cat to like dog food. Dogs, on the contrary, like to eat scrumptious and enriched cat food.
Consequences of Long-Term Food Swapping
It’s not that the dog food contains something toxic for your cat, but it will deprive your feline’s body of certain nutrients that are essential for its proper body functioning.
These are the building blocks; the building will eventually collapse if building blocks get missing. The same happens with the cat’s body. Gas upset, pancreatitis, and obesity are a few of the outcomes.
If your cat is suffering from any allergy, stomach issue, or any other health implication, then the consequences of food sharing would be immense.
Immediately contact your vet if your cat is eating dog food on a daily basis. Prevent your cat from eating dog food by keeping the food out of their reach. Leftover food must be removed so that your pets cannot eat any food that is not intended for them.
Be vigilant in feeding your pets, as even a small negligence can risk the life of your fluffy friend.
It is tempting for a multi-pet owner to serve the same kibble to all of his pets. Occasional food sharing is not a big deal, but a regular food swap among furry siblings is not recommended.
Cat food is enriched with nutrients such as taurine, protein, and fats/ all these nutrients are essential for the proper functioning of cats’ bodies.
But these nutrients are not as such essential for dogs, so they are present either in minute concentration or not present at all.