Can Cats Eat Dog Food
A multi-pet household with both dog and cat comes with several different issues. From the difficulty of introducing them with a lot of caution to the stress of monitoring their behaviors until they become properly acquainted and develop a sense of their attitude in each other’s company. Once your pets are settled in, they will begin to cultivate a unique and strong bond. Subsequently, they will get used to sharing lap space, vying for the same morsel from the kitchen, and snuggling up together in the same bed space. However, when the two buddies decide to start sharing their food together, it may portend some health issues.
So, the question here is can a cat eat canine food? This can be answered in the affirmative. There are no severe consequences if your kitty happens to ingest a negligible quantity of canine food. However, this does not mean that you can start feeding both cats and dogs with the same food. Cats can only thrive on a diet made exclusively for cats and there are different reasons why you should not expose it to canine food. Continue reading for further information.
What Foods Can Cats Eat?
Dog’s are classified as omnivores; as a result, their essential nutrients can be obtained from both animal and plant-based-sources. On the other hand, cats are obligate carnivores – this underlines the fact that animal-based protein should be the major source of their nutritional needs. A cat’s survival and maintenance of good health are heavily dependent on this.
According to reports, the minimum protein requirement for a dog is 18% and compared to the cat’s 26% protein requirement, it comes 8% short. A dog’s diet does not only contain a lesser amount of protein than a cat’s dietary requirement, but it also has other nutritional contents that are not good enough for a cat to thrive on.
What is an Ideal Cat Diet?
An ideal cat diet must contain additional supplementation of the amino acid called taurine. Since canine kibble is not equipped with taurine, the cat will be denied of a major part of its essential supplements, if it goes only on dog food.
The amino acid content of animal-based protein, such as meat and its by-products are of 23 types. Basically, cats need 11 of them to be healthy and must ingest these amino acids to survive since it won’t be able to synthesize them. Dogs also need some of them, but not all – this is where taurine comes in. While a dog’s body can easily manufacture this essential amino acid, the reverse is the case for a cat whose body is not wired to produce it. This is why taurine may not be required in a canine diet but must be present in cat food.
Also, while dogs require linoleic acid, cats must have both linoleic and arachidonic acids in their diet. Thus, typical dog food lacks that arachidonic fatty acid content that’s necessary for the maintenance of a cat’s kidney and coat. Some animal experts have stated that suitable nutrition for both cats and dogs require minerals and vitamins in different quantities. Canine kibble does contain niacin, B vitamins, and thiamin; however, all these come in lesser amounts. What’s more, a dog’s diet also comes with a lesser quantity of folic acid than the nutritional requirement of their feline counterparts. Needless to say that a cat that insists on eating dog food will end up with a severe nutritional deficiency.
Side Effects of Feeding Cats With Dog Food
If you are guilty of feeding your cat with dog food for a considerable length of time, there is the need to watch the cat’s physical well-being and behavior. It’s possible, it might be battling nutritional deficiency if you observe signs like vomiting, discomfort, alopecia (hair loss), diarrhea, or several other related problems. If neglected for long, the condition can result in malnutrition, liver disease, or kidney failure, all of which are fatal for the felines.
What’s more, a taurine deficiency can lead to heart problems, blindness, and deafness. Other ailments that can result from an improper balance of the essential vitamins in a kitty’s diet include seizures, lethargy, poor digestion, poor coat condition, poor posture, organ dysfunction, impaired reproduction, and in extreme cases death. When the carbohydrate, protein, minerals, and vitamin requirement in a cat’s food is not properly balanced, it might experience gastrointestinal upset. All these can only be possible if a cat continues to snack on canine food.
How to Stop Cat Eating Dog Food
If you observe that your dog is too keen on dog food at the detriment of its health, or is simply gluttonous, it calls for ways to stop the behavior. Get some tips below;
- Their food bowls should be designed differently: Both cats and the dogs are equipped with the innate ability to differentiate between sizes and shapes. Thus, feeding them with two bowls that look alike makes it a bit hard for them to discern, which is which. It may not just be enough to buy different colors; the sizes and shapes of their bowls need to differ.
- Institute feeding routine: It doesn’t matter whether you spend long hours away from home or not. It is crucial that you create a feeding routine or schedule between cat and dog. Both cats and dogs are creatures of routine, thus, acclimatizing to a feeding time will not be difficult. By controlling their feeding time and encouraging both to have their meals at particular times, you will reduce the risk of eating each other’s food.
- Their meals should be placed in different places: The likelihood of searching out each other’s food bowl will be greatly reduced if their foods are in different locations.
- Disciplin: With the aid of positive reinforcement, both household pets can be trained to only consume what is in their separate bowls. The simple “no” command can be effective when any one of them is caught snacking from the other’s bowl – this can only work where the pets are trained to respond to such instructions. You should desist from scolding as the duo may not understand; besides, it can lead to stress for both.
- High tech method: The same microchip that is used in locating lost pets can be effective on electronic feeders – the dog’s chip will only open its own feeder, and the same can be said for the cat.