Guess what an obvious query is in the search lists of a cat owner who happens to be a dog parent simultaneously? Can cats eat dog food? Yes, that’s what it is! Most people have this query if they house a cat and a dog under the same roof.
Either you catch your kitty feeding from that bowl of pedigree, or your cat-food pack went all empty, and you had to resort to your puppy pack. Whatever it is, you end up wondering about the safety of your feline child. In this article, we’ll find answers to whether cats can eat dog foods or not. Read on.
Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
So, the answer, in short, is yes. A cat nibbling dog food causes no harm when the quantity is considerably minimal. It becomes a matter of concern if your cat starts to sustain on dog food for a longer time.
Let’s clarify. While a small amount of dog food does not harm the cat, it’s not beneficial for the cat’s health either. Cats and dogs have entirely separate nutritional requirements. Similarly, food supplements also have distinct differences in terms of components, nutrients, and formulas.
Dogs are omnivorous, which means they feed on a combination of meat, veggies, and grains. On the other hand, cats are exclusively carnivorous. They eat fish and meat to meet their nutritional needs. Hence, cats cannot survive on dog food for a long time without showing adverse health conditions.
Nutrition Needs for A Cat
Cats are obligate carnivores. They need animal protein in their dietary meals to keep fit and healthy. Apart from that, cats need the amino acid taurine in their diet. Dog foods are incapable of providing the vitamins, minerals, and vital nutrients that a cat requires thriving. Association of American Feed Control Officials or AAFCO directed the following nutritional needs for a cat.
Meat and fish protein (approx. 30%)
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids
Animal fat (approx. 15% to 20%)
Differences Between Cat Food and Dog Food
There are loads of nutritional differences between cat food and dog food. Dog food is a combination of vegetables, grains, and animal proteins, whereas cat food is devoid of vegetables and grains. Let’s dig deeper into understanding the differences between cat food and dog food.
● Difference of Taste
The perception of taste differs between cats and dogs. The number oftastebud receptors also varies among cats and dogs. A cat can hardly identify sweet taste, unlike a dog. Cats have only 470 tastebuds, while dogs have almost 1700. Hence, cat foods have to be highly tasty to impress their tastebuds.
Practically, it is a rare phenomenon where a cat snacks upon a dog food. That’s because dog foods are pretty bland when it comes to taste. On the other hand, dogs enjoy the highly palatable cat foods a lot!
● Protein Elements Differences
Cats live on animal proteins exclusively. They are obligate carnivores. Hence, the need for animal protein for cats is much higher than that of dogs. Dogs are omnivores, so they have plant proteins as well. Hence, the need for animal protein goes lower than cats.
As-Fed protein element of a dog food ranges between 18% to 26% on average. At the same time, the same for cat food range between 30% to 34%. However, cat food can contain as much as 40% – 50% animal protein.
● Amino Acids and Fatty Acids
Taurine is an essential amino acid in cats that they don’t produce enough in their body. Therefore, the food supplements need to be rich in taurine. Without enough taurine, the cat suffers from digestive troubles, reduced vision, and a weak heart. Dog foods don’t have taurine at all.
Arachidonic acid is an essential fatty acid that cats need to intake through their food. A cat without enough arachidonic acid has liver and kidney abnormalities and skin diseases. Dog foods don’t have it either.
What To Do If Your Cat Eats Dog Food?
It’s not a matter of concern if your cat stumbles upon the dog’s bowl and snacks on it once in a while. The dog food is not poisonous for the cat. It only does no significant good to the cat’s health.
But watch out if your cat has made a habit of eating dog food. Try and refrain the little feline in the first place from having dog food. Apart from that, you need to observe if your cat is having any health issue like diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss, skin rashes, abnormal urine, etc.
If you spot any change in your cat’s behaviour or digestive system, consult a vet urgently. If your cat already has health conditions like allergy, poor stomach, or compromised immunity, eating dog food might enhance problems. In that case, consider visiting a vet for your cat’s body checkup.
In conclusion, we can say that eating a tiny amount of dog food has no significant effect on your cat’s health. However, eating dog food for a long time can cause declined health conditions for your cat. Dog food lacks the necessary nutrients that are essential for a cat’s health. Therefore, a cat cannot survive on dog food for a long time without compromising on health.