Monday, October 13, 2008

Cats eating dog food and the other way around

My customer was all bent out of shape: “Thank you for sending me the samples. Problem is that at this point I still don’t know if my dog likes the freeze dried raw food you sent. The reason for that is that my cat got a hold of it and ate it. Isn’t that going to cause a problem? And, please can you send me another dog sample?” she wrote in her e-mail.
I answered:
So the cat ate it with pleasure? Good for her and you have nothing to worry about, it is not going to do any harm. We here have the same problem, with 2 dogs and 5 cats it is a regular scenario that the dogs eat the cat food and vice versa. When it comes to dry food, I must keep my cat Isabell out of the warehouse and hide every shipment as fast as I can. She’s made it a habit of ripping open the dog food bags and enjoying the kibble faster than I can say “No”. And there is nothing you can do about it, except being fast and tricky as how to locate the food bowls (keep them out of reach for dogs and let the cats climb into higher locations for them).
However, over the long run you want to consider the following facts:
Cat and dog food is fairly different in many ways. Cats are obligate carnivores. They have to eat meat and correspondingly their diet should consist of mostly meat and a higher protein level. Dogs are omnivores, meaning their diet should feature higher fiber content than feline food. If a dog eats a lot of cat food, or exclusively cat food, he will get way too much protein, which could lead to indigestion and possibly kidney or liver damage.On the other hand, if cats are being fed mostly dog food, they will not be getting the amino acid taurine required, which comes from meat and is added in extra amounts to cat food. Taurine can be synthesized by dogs from other amino acids. Cats do not have this capability and must receive the required supply with their food. Dog foods do not have an adequate level of taurine so a cat on a dog food diet could gradually develop heart failure, blindness and muscle degradation. Though, as a side note, lately more and more manufacturers are changing their recipes to include taurine in dog food as well.In summary, a cat can snack on dog food without real harm as long as they mostly eat their own cat food. Some cats with sensitive stomachs may vomit because of the high fiber content. A dog should not snack on cat food because the high protein and fat levels will upset the digestion of most dogs. Also dogs tend to wolf down their food instead of nibbling a few kibbles like a cat does when it eats dog food. Therefore the food intake is higher as well.
At the same time: A few kibbles or nuggets here and there once in a while don’t hurt neither the cat nor the dog.
Having said that, yes, we will send out some more of the samples for your dog. Just this time make sure you and your dog are faster than your sneaky cat. Maybe feeding her more often would help too… (just kidding).

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