Although most dogs can eat almost any type of food, this is not the case with cats. Although dog food will not harm your cat immediately, but the lack of specific nutrients for cats does make it inadequate in the long term.
Is it bad for cats to eat dog food in an emergency? A few bowls of dog food are highly unlikely to harm your cat if you have run out of food for him. Doing it regularly can affect your cat’s health and should be avoided.
In this article, you will see how dog food affects cats in the short and long term.
- What do cats need in their diet?
- What should cat food be made of?
- Difference between cat and dog food
- Is something wrong if your cat eats dog food?
- How to separate cat and dog food in a multi-pet household
What do cats need in their diet?
C omo carnivores, cats need food rich in protein, fat and taurine in their diets.
More specifically they need:
- Protein from meat or fish.
- Amino acids such as taurine and arginine (from meat or fish)
- Fatty acids.
Many vets believe that around 35% to 45% of a cat’s diet should be protein.
What should cat food be made of?
The cat foods are rich in protein, calories, fat and contain the required amount of taurine. More specifically, healthy cat food should contain:
- Natural whole food ingredients.
- High quality animal proteins (at least 30%)
- Healthy fats of animal origin (around 15% to 20%).
- Digestible carbohydrates and fiber.
- Vitamins, minerals, enzymes and essential fatty acids.
- No artificial by-products, fillers or additives.
Difference between cat and dog food
We can believe that dogs can be fed cat food and vice versa. However, it is not advisable to feed a cat dog food.
Before seeing the difference between food for dogs and cats, you should know that dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores . This makes the difference between the types of food.
Dogs and cats perceive food differently. For example, cats do not have the ability to taste something sweet. This helps explain why dog food does not tend to attract cats as much as dogs.
Dog food contains more vitamin A compared to cat food. If cat food is high in vitamin A it can cause many health problems in a cat, its body will not be able to process it.
The body of a dog converts beta-kerotene into vitamin A, cats do not have this possibility, so preformed vitamin A must be included in the diet.
Another essential component of the diet of cats is taurine , an essential amino acid, which is normally found in animal tissues. Taurine is an essential component of a cat’s diet, and if the required amount is not consumed, cats could experience heart problems, respiratory tract disorders, and blindness. On the other hand, taurine is not that essential for dogs.
Cat food should contain more niacin and arachidonic acid , which is a necessary fatty acid. This is necessary because cats do not have the ability to synthesize this in their diet. On the other hand, dog food does not contain arachidonic acid, as dogs can obtain it directly through meat, or they can synthesize it with linoleic acid, which is abundant in many vegetable oils, such as sunflower oils.
Another difference between cat and dog food is their protein content . Cat food contains a higher level of protein because they use protein as an energy source. In contrast, dog food will not contain high amounts of protein.
Is something wrong if your cat eats dog food?
Unless your cat has health problems, such as allergies and gastrointestinal problems, dog food is an acceptable emergency food for a cat.
In addition to other questions that I will tell you later, you should keep the following three warnings:
- If your cat is hungry and needs a meal, dog food is suitable in the short term, we are talking about 1 or 2 days.
- If your cat is healthy, dog food should not pose immediate health problems. You must check how your cat reacts to its consumption.
- If the textures are similar, cat and dog food can mix well. This is probably one of the best solutions, as it will ensure that your cat gets some of the nutrients it needs from its diet.
That said, it should be qualified, your cat should not be given dog food routinely.
Foods intended for dogs do not meet the nutritional and vitamin needs of cats.
If you have cats and dogs, you should be picky about the quality of the food you give them, especially if it’s just for money-saving reasons.
How to separate cat and dog food in a multi-pet household
If you have cats and dogs, you may find your cat eating from your dog’s bowl on occasion.
Here are some tips you can follow to prevent that from happening:
- Feed your pets on a certain schedule. Serve your dog’s food and then remove it. Prepare food for your cat, serve it, and then remove it.
- If your animals like to eat food during the day, be sure to put up a physical barrier. If you establish different feeding places for your animals, they will be less likely to consume foods that are not for them.
While some cats enjoy the taste and smell of dog food, most do not. Check how your cat responds to a bowl of dog food and take whatever action you consider appropriate.
You don’t need to worry when your pets exchange food for a short period of time. That said, while an occasional bite of your dog’s food won’t hurt your cat, feeding him long-term dog food can lead to your cat becoming malnourished.
For proper nutrition, feed your feline healthy foods specifically labeled for cats.