Difference Between Dog Food And Cat Food
The nutritional needs of cats and dogs are vastly different, even though both belong to the Carnivora order. Dogs are misunderstood to be carnivores by many. In truth, dogs are omnivores, according to General and Comparative Endocrinology.
A canine’s diet must have a variety of grains, vegetables, and fruits, alongside meats. In comparison, cats are strict carnivores. They don’t need vegetables, grains, or fruits in their diet. All the nutrition they require can be derived from a wholly meat-based diet.
Even though cats are capable of digesting plant matter, they cannot do so efficiently. In fact, some uncooked vegetables are impossible for a cat to digest and will be passed whole. Likewise, felines cannot extract enough nutrients from the matter to keep up their health. Although a carrot may be packed with vitamin A, for example, a cat will only get a tiny portion of this.
Instead, vital nutrients for cats must be derived from animal proteins. Taurine is the most important one, with vitamin A following closely behind. Dog food contains little to none and far less protein than cat food.
Taurine is an amino acid that plays an important role in metabolic processes. Without it, cats become lethargic, suffer from digestive issues, and develop unhealthy skin and fur. This can escalate quickly. Cats that are left untreated may suffer from:
Since cats are unable to produce this vital amino acid themselves, they must have a steady source of dietary taurine. The highest amounts can be found in fish and some types of dark meat. The most prominent include turkey and chicken.
Dog food, although containing meat, does not provide enough taurine for a cat to live on healthily for a prolonged period. In fact, most dog food brands offer a blend of beef, pork, mutton, and goat meat.
In cats, taurine deficiency is a prevalent nutritional problem, as noted by Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. It most commonly occurs when cat owners try supplementing their cat’s diet with homemade food, dog food, or vegetables.
Vitamin A is vital for eyesight, healthy skin, and immune system health. Unlike cats, dogs are able to produce their own supply by converting beta carotene into Vitamin A. Cats lack this ability, so their entire supply of Vitamin A must come from food.
Deficiency in this vitamin can result in blindness, similar to taurine deficiency. It can also lead to deteriorating skin and fur quality, and weakness of the muscles. If your cat eats dog food for more than 3-4 meals, the early symptoms may begin to crop up.
As obligate carnivores, felines have evolved to eat meat and only meat. Unlike dogs, which consume carbohydrates and animal protein, cats mainly rely on protein for energy. If you deprive them of protein or consistently give them an inadequate amount, their body will feel the impact.
Dog food does contain protein. However, the amount is nowhere near what cats need as a part of their daily meals. In fact, it’s estimated that cats need double the amount of protein as dogs.
Of course, you may try to compensate for that by using puppy food. This is often packed with additional protein and vitamins to help fortify a developing canine’s body. While this may seem efficient, it’s a surface-level fix. The individual servings will continue to have a too-small amount.
What is cat food made from?
Contrary to the diet of a dog, cats need food rich in protein and fat. It also needs to be lower in fiber. Felines need added vitamin A as they are an organism which is unable to metabolize it on their own. The same happens with taurine, an amino acid which cats in the wild get from eating raw meat, especially offal such as the liver or heart. As commercial cat food is not raw and doesnt always contain these elements, it must be added to the food during production. We should not underestimate how important taurine is to the health of our cats. A diet sufficiently deficient in taurine will lead to various health problems in cats including heart disease. This is something which needs to be considered if you are thinking of providing a raw food diet for cats.
When you are considering your cats diet and nutritional needs in general, you need to remember that they are obligate carnivores. This is why they require so much protein in their diet. If they dont have sufficient amounts of protein, they will not have the energy they need to carry out their physical activities throughout the day. Although cats might seem like lazy animals at times, in actuality they burn a lot of energy during games or when hunting. If a cat has protein deficiency, they will not only become lethargic, but can develop severe illnesses.
Another necessary element in the feline diet is arachidonic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid which is necessary for a cats health. Dogs will produce this naturally from their food, but cats will not.
Is it safe to feed dog food to cats?
The best cat food and dog food may look similar, but there are key differences in their ingredients. This is because cats and dogs have different nutritional needs, so cats shouldn’t eat dog food, and vice versa.
What’s so different about cat and dog food? Well, cats are ‘obligate carnivores’ — they cannot survive without meat in their diet. That’s because of an amino acid called taurine (opens in new tab) that isn’t found in plants, but is found in meat. Whilst canines (and humans) can make their own taurine from other amino acids like methionine, cats cannot. If they don’t eat enough taurine, they quickly have severe effects. Cat food therefore always has plenty of bioavailable taurine, whilst dog food may have it, or may not, or may have it in only small amounts. There are other differences too – cat food generally has a higher protein content and higher amounts of the amino acid alanine.
Because of these key differences in the nutrient content of cat and dog foods, dog food is not safe for cats. Cats that eat wet or dry dog food won’t be getting the required amount of taurine, alanine, and protein. Taurine deficiency in cats causes blindness and heart disease that is quickly fatal.
How long can a cat eat dog food?
Can I feed my cat dog food for a week?
Can cats get sick from eating dog food?