Most pet owners that own both a cat and a dog will often ask themselves the question ‘Can cats eat dog food?’ on noticing their cat steal some of the dogs food, if left unattended. Most don’t know if it is good or bad for the cat. However, the answer to this question is a little more complex. Of course the straight answer is yes, but you have to follow it up with ‘Is it healthy for my cat to eat dog food?’ and the answer is no. Having said that, here in this article today we will be looking at why dog food isn’t healthy for cats to eat, and some important information regarding the health advice surrounding this topic.
Can cats eat dog food? The health reasons why cat owners should discourage this.
1. Cats should not eat plant based foods
Both dogs and cats are completely different in terms of how they digest food and process it, and it’s pretty simple to understand once it has been explained. Dogs are categorized as Omnivores, meaning they can obtain the essential proteins, vitamins and minerals needed to survive from both plants and meat. However, cats are categorized as obligate carnivores, meaning they get all of their nutrients from animal based foods, like meat, and do not receive any health benefits from plant based foods.
2. Cats need more protein in their food than dogs
It is stated that cats require 26 percent of protein in their diet to function properly, whereas a dog only requires 18 percent, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Moreover, dog food contains considerably less protein than cat food, some of which could be from plant based foods, which in turn will not be enough nutrients for a cat to survive long term. Furthermore, dog food also does not contain arachidonic fatty acids, which your cat needs to maintain a healthy coat and healthy kidneys.
3. Adverse long term effects for cats due to different mineral and vitamin requirements
Cats that steal a little of your dogs food now and then won’t hurt him, but feeding a cat dog food for the long term will dramatically effect his health, and can cause some serious problems. Moreover, cats and dogs require completely different vitamins and minerals, for instance, a dog requires much less thiamin, niacin and folic acid than cats, meaning their food has much less in it than a cat food. Feeding a cat dog food will lead to a deficiency in many of the important ingredients he needs to stay healthy, so he will eventually become ill.
4. Cats digestive system cannot handle vegetables and fruit
Dogs are like humans when it comes to eating, meaning they can eat lots of vegetables, and even fruits, unlike cats that cannot digest these foods properly, especially if eaten in large amounts. Keep in mind, that a cats liver works at a high enzyme rate, which is ideal for a high protein diet, whereas humans and dogs are able to lower their enzyme activity when eating low protein foods. Moreover, cats cannot break down vegetables or fruits and extract the nutrients like us or dogs.
5. Dog food diet for lengthy periods will cause illness in cats
If we take it a step further, and say we are going to feed a cat dog food for a length of time, this will eventually result in one or more of many illnesses. For instance, a lack of taurine, which is not present in dog food, can lead to blindness in a cat, or deafness, or worse still, it can cause heart problems. Having said that, there are many other problems that can arise from eating a diet designed for dogs, like lethargy, a poor conditioned coat, it can have an effect on his or her reproduction system, seizures, and even death.
6. Reasons why some cats like eating dog food
There are many reasons that a cat owner may think about giving their cat dog food, dog food is generally cheaper than cat food, or you see your cat eating your dog food without any ill effects, but feeding them dog food long term should not be done, ever. So why do cats seem to love dog food?
- It could be there is an aroma that is attracting him to the food, or a specific ingredient, or he just may be feeling left out if he doesn’t swipe some of the dogs food.
- However, it is a bit like us eating chocolate cake, we have a taste for it, and we love it, even though we know it’s not good for us, but a little is ok now and then, eating chocolate cake long term and nothing else would probably end us in the hospital though.
Watch this funny video which shows cats stealing food from dog bowls:-
7. Set aside separate eating areas for your cats and dogs
Now that we know cats eating dog food is not a good idea, and that if you own a dog and a cat, you should probably give them separate feeding areas, or feed the dog in a different room until he has finished. Having said that, if you feed a dog and he doesn’t finish, don’t leave the half eaten bowl around, so the cat can help himself to it later.
8. Have your cat checked out by vet if he eats dog food regularly
If you have a cat that has been eating your dogs food quite regularly, you may want to schedule a visit to the vet, just to get him checked out and make sure everything is good, as cats have a good way of making you think everything is good with them, even if they are sick.
9. Some Extra Facts About A Cats Diet
- Vitamin A has to be present in cats food, yet dogs only require beta carotene because their bodies can turn this into Vitamin A. Taurine is an amino acid that cats require, yet dogs can make their own, so many dog foods do not contain this amino acid, and if a cat eats this regularly and doesn’t get the required Taurine, he can suffer from a devastating heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM. Arachidonic fatty acid is another fatty acid that cats need, and they need the real thing, whereas dogs can make their own, so it’s very important to feed cats cat food, and dogs dog food.
- Many cats with HCM do not show any signs of illness at all, whereas others may show signs of labored breathing, rapid breathing or open mouthed breathing and lethargy. Moreover, the potential life threatening part of HCM is the formation of blood clots in the heart, these clots may travel around the bloodstream causing even more problems. Clots can result in the prevention of blood flow to the hind legs causing hind limb pain and possible hind limb paralysis, and although rare, cats with HCM are at risk of sudden death.
When it comes to feeding our cats, and dogs, deciding if feeding them the same type of pet food, can be critical to their overall health. Therefore, we hope that our article topic here today, has helped our readers to make a better informed choice selection for their pets. Finally, by taking the time to ensure that they both have the proper types of food for their overall health requirments, can help them to not only thrive, and stay healthy, but also for them to be around for many long years of enjoyment within your family for many years to come.
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