If you ask many veterinarians about the common questions they get from pet owners, you will find that most of them are asked if cats can eat dog foods. It is a question that does not have an outright answer as it depends on the context of the asking. You will find some owners asking because their cat accidentally took dog food, or maybe there are times they could be late and the only food available is dog food. In such instances, the question may be partial, yes, meaning a cat can eat a small amount of dog food and not have any toxicity or lasting effects. However, if the question is whether one should use dog food as an alternative to cat food, the answer is no. To put it into perspective, the following are some explanations as to why you should not feed your cat with dog foods.
Cats have different nutritional requirements at different stages of life
Dogs’ foods are formulated differently from cats’ as they have different nutritional needs. When making pets’ food, the pets food industry groups them into three main life stages: the growth stage, maintenance stage, and all the life stages. However, different pets have different requirements at these stages. This is not different for cats as they will require specific food nutrients in terms of energy-giving, bodybuilding, vitamins, and other nutrients. For example, when the kittens are at the growth stage, they will require more energy-giving food. According to PETMD, when they grow older, they will require food rich in protein to keep their muscles strong, so that they don’t waste fast due to age. Therefore if you are to feed your cat with dog food, they would lack necessary food requirements as dog food is not rich in protein and certain essential food nutrients. In other words, even if a dog’s food will not harm your cat, you shall be depriving it of its nutritional requirements as this food does not consider the different stages of a pet’s life.
Need for Taurine among the Cats
Cats and humans are among few mammals that don’t have the ability to take Taurine. Taurine is an organic compound that consists of the major part of bile found in the large intestine. It is useful in both humans and cats in helping the functioning of the heart and the brain. This is probably why the cat is considered among the most intelligent pets. The compound also helps in the growth of the nerve system. Deficiency in this compound may cause problems such as vision loss, weakened heart, or digestion issues. Therefore when cat foods are being commercially formulated, Taurine is usually added, but it is rarely included in dog foods as they have the ability to make it naturally. Therefore, it is important to feed your cat with his food, as feeding him dog foods would be depriving him of this essential element.
Cats and dogs have different taste
Cats distinguish taste differently from dogs; hence their food is formulated differently to cater for this aspect. Cats are different from dogs as they lack the ability to sense sweetness. Furthermore, the number of taste receptors is not similar between the two species. When it comes to dogs, they detect five senses of taste; sweet, bitter, sour, meaty, and salty, while cats have the ability to taste only bitter and sour. This is due to the difference in the taste buds of the two, 470 and 1700 for cats and dogs respectively. In this case, cat food is specifically made to be highly palatable so that the cat can be enticed to eat as they are more particular. This is not the case with the dogs; feeding your cat with dog foods may result in your cat losing appetite.
The difference in the digestive system of cat and dog
It is important to mention that while cats are carnivorous, dogs are omnivorous. Therefore, cats’ food will be largely protein, while dogs’ food will consist of carbohydrate proportions. According to Engormix, though it would be okay to have to include a low carbohydrate diet for your cat, you should avoid starchy food as your cat does not have the capacity to digest them. However, this provision is available in dogs as they have a relatively long digestive system. This is to cater for the ability to digest carbohydrates necessary for their diet. This means that dogs’ food consists of a proportion of starchy food, which, if your cat eats consistently, would end up creating digestion issues which can even lead to death. Therefore unless accidentally, it is not advisable to feed your cat with dog food.
Differences in eating behavior of the two pets
The eating behavior of dogs and cats is quite different, though they may appear the same if not closely observed. According to Appetizer Blog, dogs normally smell the food and quickly swallow it while cats tend to be choosy, hesitant and actually may take longer before deciding to take food. The reason behind this is that dogs have the capacity to vomit food. For example, they will vomit if they happen to take toxic content. On the other hand, cats cannot vomit what they have taken and possess a high rate of absorption for foods taken. Therefore if your cat takes toxic food, it will be detrimental to their health. This eating behavior means that cats’ food is formulated with tastiness more than that of dogs. In essence, your cat will possibly refuse to take dogs’ food since cats are very picky when eating.
The difference in the sizes of the dogs and cats food
Cats don’t have molars but very sharp teeth designed for snatching, holding, and ripping their target. Therefore, they will tear the food into a small size to swallow. This anatomical design is considered by the pet food industry when making food by ensuring cat food is in small and in convenient portions, which are also wet to help them swallow the food with ease. On the other hand, dogs have molars to grind the food. Therefore, companies that make dog food do not give much consideration to the size the food is also relatively dry, and giving it to your cat may lead to choking.