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Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. Albert Einstein

Is it okay to feed your cats with dog food?

Maybe you ran out of cat food. Or your cat passionately prefers to eat your dog's food than eat her own food. Or maybe you see no difference between the two that you don't mind feeding whichever is available. At one point or another, maybe you've encountered such situations and wonder if it's okay for your cat to eat dog food.

If you indeed asked yourself that question,  you are a responsible pet owner who is concerned about your cat nutrition. There's nothing wrong when you give your cat dog food from time to time. However, studies show that it is bad for your cat's health when given in a long period of time.

Dogs and cats do not have the same physiological design and ability to synthesize certain nutrients in the body which accounts for the difference in their nutritional needs. Cats are strict carnivores while dogs are omnivores. Pet food companies address the differing nutritional requirements between cats and dogs therefore feeding a cat with dog food deprives the cat of essential nutrients needed for optimum growth and metabolism.
So, what are the differences between cat food and dog food?

1. Dog food contains a lower proportion of protein content.
Cats require higher amount of protein because they use protein as an energy source (unlike in dogs and other mammals). Cats fed with insufficient amount of protein over time are more prone in developing hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease).

2. Dog food does not contain Taurine and Arginine which are essential nutrients in cats.
These are essential amino acids which play a critical role in a cat's normal heart function and vision. Unlike dogs, cats cannot synthesize these nutrients and it is important that these are provided in their diet.

3. Dog food contains a higher carbohydrate content which may cause digestive issues in cats.
Cats have decreased ability to utilize carbohydrates compared to dogs and other mammals due to lack of specific enzymatic pathways and a salivary enzyme called amylase which are responsible for carbohydrate digestion. Excessive amounts of carbohydrates can cause diarrhea and/or vomiting in cats which may then lead to dehydration and shock.

4. Dog food does not contain Vitamin A.
Beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, is present in certain plants and fruits which is usually converted to vitamin A in dogs and humans. However, cats lack this ability and must receive Vitamin A from meat sources which is also present in cat food.

Most if not all of the essential nutrients in cats can be derived from meat sources which makes them true carnivorous species. The importance of the above-mentioned nutrients should not be overlooked because nutritional deficiency in cats would take toll in your cat's health and may cause disorders later in their life. For more information about cat nutrition, click HERE.