A strange thing happened when I brought my first dog home. My three-year-old cat, who had only eaten about one large cereal bowl of dry food every three days and had at one point been put on a prescription appetite stimulant by the vet to get her to eat more, suddenly seemed to nearly triple here food consumption. The bowl that was almost always half full was unexpectedly clean—in fact it seemed to be licked clean.
For two days, I considered it a miracle. The addition of another pet had cured my persnickety pet of her paltry appetite!
And I probably would have continued to congratulate myself as an intuitive healer if I hadn’t heard dog tags clinking against the cat’s bowl or dogs bowl on morning three of our new little family.
Of course it seems ridiculous now, but I had just figured that dogs ate dog food and cats ate cat food. Since I would never confuse pet food with my own, it seemed like a natural conclusion that they would be able to distinguish which food was their own food. This is not the case.
Food is Food…Right?
It is important to understand that cats and dogs have different dietary requirements, just like humans and horses do. While it may be true that cats and dogs occasionally show curiosity in each other’s food or indulge in a little extra treat, it is essential to provide them with their own specialized meal plans to ensure their individual nutritional needs are met and they can maintain optimal health.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their bodies are designed to thrive on a diet primarily composed of animal-based proteins. They require specific nutrients such as taurine, arachidonic acid, and vitamin A that are found naturally in animal tissues. These nutrients are essential for their overall health, including their eye health, cardiovascular system, and immune function.
On the other hand, dogs are omnivores and have a more flexible dietary profile. While they also benefit from high-quality animal-based proteins, they can derive essential nutrients from plant-based sources as well. Dogs require a balanced combination of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to support their energy levels, muscle development, and overall well-being in their dog food.
Feeding cats a dog’s diet or vice versa can lead to nutritional deficiencies or imbalances that can negatively impact their health. For instance, cats may not receive adequate taurine levels from dog food, which can result in severe health issues, including heart disease and vision problems. Similarly, dogs may not get the necessary nutrients, such as certain vitamins or amino acids, from a cat’s diet.
To ensure your cat and dog maintain optimal health, it is recommended to provide them with species-appropriate, balanced diets that are formulated specifically for their nutritional needs. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best diet options for your pets based on their age, breed, size, and any specific health considerations.
Remember, proper nutrition plays a vital role in supporting your pets’ overall health and well-being. By providing them with appropriate and tailored meal plans, you can help them lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
But He Likes It…
Sure the dog likes the cat’s food better—it’s loaded with the yummy stuff. The most basic difference is protein. Cats are naturally carnivores and need a lot of it. Dogs are omnivores, and don’t need as much. Plus, like their humans, dogs can store and access energy in the form of fat, while cats need a daily replenishment to stay healthy. If cats go too long without eating, they can develop a condition called hepatic lipidosis.
The Bottom Line
Helping himself to the cat’s dinner – if it doesn’t make him sick—will make the pooch plump and deprive the cat from what she needs.
Because each has different nutritional needs, you really should make every effort to keep pets from sampling each other’s food.