Many cats seem to go out of their way to eat dog food. Sometimes the grass is greener on your neighbor’s lawn, sometimes the food on somebody else’s plate looks better. Although you probably wouldn’t ruin your neighbor’s lawn or steal the food off of somebody else’s plate, cats probably would. Even if the tasty morsel is on the plate of a big dog, it can be carefully snatched when the dog’s attention is diverted.
It seems counter-intuitive that cat’s shouldn’t have dog food. There are cases where cats seem to prefer eating dog food and it seems to be essentially the same. Can it be a problem if you feed your cat dog food? Problems other than provoking an identity crisis?
Cat food is designed specifically for the feline metabolism. Where dogs have evolved to become omnivores, eating both meat and vegetables, cats are carnivores. Therefore, cat food has more protein and a higher calorie content. Dog food on the other hand lacks the nutrients necessary for cats.
Can I give my cat dog food? Answer: No.
So feeding your cat with dog food will eventually lead to malnutrition. Most cats are finicky about what they eat, so in many cases they won’t even eat dog food. Some cats even refuse to eat certain types of cat food.
Not Worth the Health Risk
Nobody likes an empty wallet, so we may be tempted to feed our cats dog food because it is significantly cheaper. After all, we might have seen cats steal the food out of a dog’s bowl. As tempting as it sounds, in the long run the cat will suffer from malnutrition and the cardiac and digestive problems resulting from it. Its best to prevent the pile up of veterinary bills by providing your cat with food that caters to their nutritional needs.
Dog Food Lacks Enough Taurine
Dog food does not contain taurine, an amino acid that is an essential nutrient to cats and which they cannot produce themselves and must therefore receive through food. A taurine deficiency takes many months to develop, but may cause hair loss and tooth decay in addition to affecting a cat’s reproductive and cardiovascular system. A few bites of dog food will not harm the cat, but a long term diet can have severe consequences due to malnutrition.
Not Enough Fat and Proteins
Cats need arachidonic acid, a fatty acid, in their diet since they cannot produce it themselves either and it is necessary to break down their form of Vitamin A. Dogs use a different source of Vitamin A, known as beta-carotene, so they do not need the fatty acid added to their diet. Cats do. Dog food also has more plant-based proteins than cat food. As pure carnivores animal-based proteins are very important to our little lions.
Too Many Carbs
The low carbohydrate diet has been a popular weight loss regime for humans, but it is basically a constant state for cats. Dog food has more carbohydrates than cat food and cats have a hard time adjusting to this. If the amount of carbohydrates in the food is too high cats can suffer from digestive problems.
Preventing Your Cat From Eating Dog Food
Because of the dangers of malnutrition it is probably best to prevent your cat from eating dog food, even if they like it. Only a long term diet of dog food will cause problems to cats. No need to panic if your cat snatches a few pieces of dog food out of the bowl. In emergency situations a cat’s hunger can be temporarily assuaged with some dog food, but it should not be made into a habit.
If your cat is a dog food junkie, make sure that there is no dog food lying around for it to consume. Dogs are generally fast eaters, so this can be done by supervising them as the dog eats, otherwise split the dog’s portions up so that there are no leftovers in the bowl.
Dog Food is for Dogs
While it isn’t dangerous for your cat to sneak a snack away from their canine friend, a long term diet of dog food will lead to malnutrition. Dog food simply does not contain essential nutrients required for a healthy cat. Its always best to invest in the best cat food possible to prevent illness and malnutrition at a later stage.