why does my cat eat dog food
Differences between Dog and Cat Food The major difference between dogs and cats is that dogs are scavanging carnivores (they do best when eating animals, but can digest plant material as well) and cats are obligate carnivores (they can only digest animals). Cats can eat plants, but lack the digestive enzymes to break down the nutrients into a usable form. Because of this difference, cat food has more supplimentation (or supplimentation of a different form) to ensure that the cats get enough of the nutrients that they need. For example:
Taurine. Taurine is a essential nutrient for cats, and "Dog food does not contain enough taurine to meet the normal requirements for a cat. " ( Vitamin A. "Dogs have the ability to convert beta-kerotene to vitamin A. Cats on the other hand need pre-formed vitamin A in their diet, which can only be found in animal tissues. " ( ).
Beta-kerotene is easily/cheaply found in carrots and other vegetables, so it is likely that is how dog food is formulated to include Vitamin A. Since cats cannot use beta-kerotene, they will become deficient. "Arachidonic acid, a necessary fatty acid, can be synthesized by a dog using linoleic acid. The cat is unable to do this and needs to ingest arachidonic acid in their diet. This, too, can only be found in animal tissues. " ( ). Higher protein content. Cats need more protein than dogs. While less protein won't cause any illness, it may make them lethargic and loose muscle mass. Is Your Cat Eating Enough Dog Food to Be a Problem? One recommendation is that treats should not exceed 10% of a pet's caloric intake ( ). You can look up the calorie counts of your foods, then figure out how much dog food (and other treats you may be feeding) is 10% of your cat's cat food intake to determine if it's just a harmless habit or something you should seriously be worried about.
If you need to stop your cat's dog food intake, I would recommend switching both animals to meal feeding. Why is the cat eating dog food I can speculate, but honestly, only the cat really knows. My best guess is that if you're feeding dry food, cat food manufacturer's coat it with to make it smell more palatable, and I suspect that dog food manufacturers do the same. Animal digest is irresistable like an open bag of potato chips to a human, so since it smells like food, he eats it. Living in a household with both a cat and a dog, you need to ensure that each animal only eats her own food.
While free access to a large bowl of food is an easy solution to feeding your pooch, it may not be practical if your kitty is constantly snacking on his food. Feed your dog two meals during the day, following the daily calorie intake recommended by the pet food manufacturer. Monitor your dog during his feedings to ensure that your cat doesn't come over and steal some of the food. Because cats tend to eat as many as 12 to 20 times per day, free-feeding may work better for your kitty only, according to the National Research Council of the National Academies. Place your cat's bowl of food on a counter top, shelf or table that your dog can't reach so your dog won't eat it. After all, it's just as bad to give your dog cat food as it is to give your cat dog food.
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