While dogs have the edge over cats every time when it comes to going overboard when eating and eating all sorts of anything that they can find, sometimes, cats will develop odd or unusual tastes for things too-such as dog food!
Dogs are much more likely to try to steal your cat’s food rather than the other way around, but if you find yourself faced with a cat who has decided that dog food is their favourite delicacy, trying to curb their behaviour can be more of a challenge, as cats are of course independent animals that do not respond well to commands, and that can be very enterprising when it comes to getting up to no good and doing things that they shouldn’t do!
In this article, we will cover the basics of why cats should not eat dog food, and how to tackle the issue if your cat has decided that the rules do not apply to them! Read on to learn more.
There are multiple reasons for why cats should not eat dog food, and annoying the dog or stealing food meant for the dog are just the beginning of it! While cat and dog food may look and smell very similar to each other to us humans, the ingredients and balance of vitamins, minerals and essential elements are totally different.
Cats have different nutritional requirements to dogs, not least of which is a need for taurine, which is added to cat food but absent from dog food. In the medium to long term, a taurine deficiency can make your cat ill, and even potentially prove fatal. Below, we will share some tips and ideas on how to stop your cat from eating dog food.
Cats free feed in the wild, grazing and eating little and often throughout the day, and they also naturally manage their own food intake and are unlikely to over eat on a regular basis. Dogs, on the other hand, will often keep eating well past the point of satiation, and for this reason, dog’s meals should be measured out and given at set times of the day, rather than left out for your dog to graze from!
Sticking to set meal times for your dog and keeping food out of reach the rest of the time can help to keep your cat from having the opportunity to steal the dog’s food!
When you are feeding your dog, you should also close the cat out of the room, to prevent them from having access to the food itself, and pushing your dog off their food or trying to share it. This should be achievable with ease, but if you feed your dog in the same room as the cat flap, beware of your cat’s ninja-like skills at working things out and finding their way in!
If you cat actively enjoys the food that they are given and is keen to eat it, this will go a long way towards reducing their urges to try a bit of what the dog is having! Ensure that your cat is happy with their own food, and if they are not overly enthusiastic about it, consider changing for something else that they prefer, and the issue might sort itself out.
Another reason for why your cat might be keen to eat dog food is if they are actually hungry, such as if they are on a restricted diet or simply not being fed enough. Also, cats that are well fed and cared for but that have had an uncertain past that may have involved going short of food can lead to opportunism where food is concerned too-and so sticking to a routine and making sure that your cat always has enough to eat can help to reduce the problem.
For cats that are being fed a restricted diet, they may feel hungry until they get used to their rations-if you feed them a special food designed to help them to lose weight, they will likely feel fuller for longer and more satisfied after eating than they will if they are fed the same food as normal, but less of it.
Cats are naturally inquisitive, and will often pick up on both the smell of the dog’s food being prepared, and the dog’s excitement when they know that they are about to be fed! Feeding your cat and dog at the same time can help to counteract this effect, giving your cat a diversion and something of their own to enjoy, and allowing your dog to eat in peace!