Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
Have you ever caught your cat eating your dog's food, and you almost got a heart attack? Perhaps, you are currently reading this article, and all that is running through your mind is “can cats eat dog food?”. Worst-case scenario, you just noticed that your cat has been eating your dog's food, and you are probably wondering, “is dog food safe for cats?”.
So, is dog food bad for cats? The answer is yes and no. No, when your cat eats it occasionally and, yes, when your cat eats it long-term.
My Cat Ate Dog Food, Should I Panic?
Can cats eat dog food? Yes, they can. Nibbles or little chunks of dog food will not harm your cat. So, you do not have to panic if your cat eats dog food.
However, you might want to be careful and ensure your cat does not get accustomed to eating dog food. You do not want your cat to prefer dog food to cat food. Also, note that you cannot put your cat on a dog food diet; it is wrong as it has consequences.
What Type of Dog Food Can Cats Eat?
Cats can eat any dog food. Cats can eat either wet or dry dog food, but not in large quantities and certainly not replace their cat food. Neither wet nor dry dog food is safer for cats.
Why Can't Cats Eat Dog Food Long-Term?
The nutritional requirements of cats and dogs differ. For example, while cats are obligate carnivores, dogs are omnivores. Also, certain substances are present in dog food, leading to allergy reactions in your cat. So, please watch your cat for abnormal behavior after eating dog food and call your vet when you observe such changes.
It is essential to note that cats require certain nutrients they can not synthesize, and their diet must contain these nutrients. On the other hand, dog food may be deficient in some of these prerequisite nutrients. Well, can cats eat dog food? Unfortunately, the answer is also no, wondering why? These nutritional requirements below tell us why:
- Taurine: Taurine is an essential amino acid in a cat's diet as it is critical for normal vision, heart muscle function, a healthy immune system, digestive system, and metabolism wellness. Unlike most mammals, cats cannot synthesize a sufficient amount of taurine and need additional taurine in their diet. Dog food does not contain taurine supplements in quantities established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and National Research Council (NRC), whereas most cat food does.
- Arachidonic Acid: Arachidonic acid is an unsaturated essential fatty acid. Cat food should contain sufficient arachidonic acid as it regulates the inflammation response in cats, aids blood clotting, and supports cats' reproductive health and skin. Dog food has lower levels of arachidonic acid as dogs can synthesize it, but the ability of cats to synthesize arachidonic acid is limited.
- Niacin (Vitamin B3): Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin and a component of the vitamin B complex, which is essential to metabolism. It is critical for the health of the skin, joints, bones, digestive system, mucous membranes, and the central nervous system of cats. Niacin also stimulates glossy fur in cats. However, cats cannot produce sufficient niacin and thus need it added to their diet. A higher level of vitamin B3 in the diet of cats reduces the risk of obesity, while its deficiency results in severe metabolic disorders in the skin and digestive system. It is important to note that dog food does not contain a sufficient quantity of vitamin B3 required by cats and a continuous deficiency of vitamin B3 in a cat's diet may lead to death.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for healthy skin and good vision in cats. It also stimulates good night vision and self-healing when a cat is wounded. Unlike dogs, cats need preformed active vitamin A as they cannot synthesize vitamin A from plant-produced carotenoids. It is necessary to note that cats cannot get vitamin A from dog food. However, an overdose of vitamin A in a cat's diet leads to toxicity.
- Arginine: Arginine is an amino acid that is vital in a cat's diet as it aids the elimination of the protein waste products in a cat's system. Cats cannot synthesize arginine and thus need it present in their diet. Since dogs can synthesize arginine, dog food may not contain arginine. Therefore, it is necessary to note that cats are vulnerable to diets lacking arginine.
- Dietary Protein: Cats do not need an extremely high protein diet, but they require more proteins in their diet than dogs.
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