This question arises quite effortlessly for all the cat owners. For instance, you come back home after another sweltering day, and it turns out there is no cat food. However, there is some dog food instead. Of course, you don’t want to go to a supermarket in the evening. So is there a chance that dog food will be ok? That’s the only hope for you now.
Sometimes you may notice that your fluffy steals some food from a dog’s bowl. Is it a normal behavior? You call your vet for a consultation. But we can give a short answer before you go to your doctor. Yes, it is normal if your cat eats dog food. But it is okay only in small amounts and for a short period of time.
What if my cat is eating dog food for a long period of time?
The first thing you should remember is that cats and dogs have different dietary requirements.
Cats are carnivores which means they need a lot of protein to stay healthy and full of energy. Dog food doesn’t contain as many useful elements as cats need. Moreover, dogs are omnivores. They can eat both meat and vegetables. Their diet is more varied and sophisticated.
If you fluffy eats too much dog food for a long period of time, it may lead to very serious consequences. So let’s find out what cats need to stay healthy.
The main differences between cat and dog food
First of all, you should remember that cats perceive tastes in another way than dogs do.
These fluffies can’t sense sweet tastes. The thing is that dogs have much more taste receptors than cats. It’s 1700 taste buds against 450. By the way, humans have more than 9000. But don’t feel sorry for your little friend.
Manufacturers created cat food that is highly palatable. That’s why cats feel variable tastes when eating their meal.
There is one more difference between cats and dogs. Will cats eat dog food? We actually doubt. Fluffies rarely like to steal something from a dog bowl. While dogs adore cat food because it is full of fats and protein. It is a kind of guilty pleasure for all the dogs.
The main ingredients of cat diet
Cat diet includes a lot of protein, fats and taurine to feel good. Here is the full list of products your fluffy needs:
- Protein from meat or fish
The usual protein percentage in cat food is 30-34% while dog food usually contains 18-26%. That’s why it won’t meet the nutrition requirements.
- Taurine and arginine from meat or fish
Did you know that cats and humans are among the few mammals that can’t produce taurine? That’s why our fluffies need to get it from food. This is one of the essential elements in your cat’s diet. Lack of taurine and arginine may lead to loss of vision, digestion problems and cardiomyopathy.
- Fatty acids (like Arachidonic one)
These kinds of acids can’t be created by cats, so it must be ingested. Cats who have a lack of fatty acids may have abnormal liver/kidney values or increased skin issues.
- Vitamin A
Dog food contains vitamin A. However, it is not high enough for proper cat diet. So don’t rely on dog food manufacturers. Control the portions of Vitamin A. If your cat doesn’t have enough of it, this may lead to muscle weakness and deterioration, night blindness and other illnesses.
The main source of niacin is animal tissue. However, dog food contains much more of plant tissue. That’s why it is not good for cats at all.
Here are the ingredients of the usual cat food:
- Natural, whole-food ingredients
- Digestible carbohydrates and fiber
- High-quality animal proteins (approximately 30%)
- Healthy, animal-based fats (from 15% to 20%)
- Vitamins, enzymes, minerals and fatty acids
- No by-products, fillers, or artificial additives
In fact, scientists think that the amount of protein in cat food must be from 35 to 45%.
Can a cat eat dog food? What will happen afterwards?
So what happens if a cat eats dog food? First of all, don’t be afraid. It is a normal thing in multi-animal households. When all your hungry pets start hovering around their plates, the whole house becomes a mess. That’s why it’s very difficult to control the process of eating. If your cat ate dog food just once, it is absolutely safe. For instance, if you need to feed your cat ASAP, and there is no possibility to buy cat food, you can give some dog meal instead.
However, it becomes really dangerous if dog food becomes its favorite meal. This product lacks amino acid which is very important for the immune system, vision, digestion and heart function.
So the first thing you should do is to separate your animals while they are eating.
Cats prefer their privacy, so it is better for them to stay alone while they have dinner. Moreover, these fluffies don’t like to share their food. And “family” meals may lead to different nervous breakdowns.
Life period is also important
According to the pet food industry all around the world, there are 3 main cat life stages:
- All-life stages
You must know that your cat’s nutritional needs highly depends on its age as well. For instance, kittens need more energy sources, while grown-ups require more protein and fats to keep their muscles in shape.
That’s why dog food can’t meet the requirements of cat nutrition.
In a word
As you see, it’s not a big problem if your cat accidentally eats dog food. Is it ok for cats to eat dry dog food? Only occasionally. Of course, you need to keep an eye on your pet to make sure its diet is balanced. However, feeding cats with dog food for a long period of time is not okay.
Dog food is not toxic at all. But everything can be dangerous if taken in large amounts. Dog food is not an exception.
Just make sure your cat’s diet is balanced and full of proteins and fat. If you notice unusual behavior or deteriorating health signs, call your vet immediately.