If your Morkie is like most dogs, he LOVES cat food. But why? Novelty is one appeal of the cat’s dinner. Plus it smells different and has a much stronger, meatier taste. That’s because cat food has a much higher level of protein than dog food. It won’t hurt your dog to have the occasional bowl of cat food, but cats and dogs should stick to their own specialized meals.
Cat food versus dog food
What’s the difference?
Cats are obligate carnivores
That means they MUST have a lot of protein, in the form of meat.
Cat food has high protein levels that they need
- cats need a lot of meat protein; more than a dog and don’t tolerate the starchy ingredients in most dog food (wheat, ground corn, etc.)
- their teeth aren’t suited to grinding, like a dog’s or a human’s
- cat food contains vitamin A and taurine, two nutrients cats need to live healthy, happy lives
- taurine is an amino acid which is necessary for cats for proper bile formation, eye health, and functioning of the heart muscle
- dog food is also missing arachidonic acid – this is one of the essential fatty acids cats need. Dogs need it too, but to put it simplistically, dogs can manufacture arachidonic acid.
- cats also need higher levels of niacin, a B vitamin, in their food
Dogs are omnivores
That means they can get nutrition from more than just meat.
Dogs thrive on more variety in their food
- dogs need a diet with more fiber than a strictly carnivorous diet (cat food) can provide
- the level of protein in dog food is tempered with starch fillers, such as grains, ground corn, or produce like peas
- over time, too high a concentration of protein, like what’s found in cat food, can cause serious health problems for dogs because all that protein puts a heavy load on internal organs like the kidneys, liver and pancreas
- protein-dense cat food can cause stomach upset in your Morkie, although most dogs seem to get away with the occasional “treat” of stolen cat food without huge consequences
- more on Small Dog Breed Food
Can dogs eat cat food? Can CATS each DOG food?
The downside of dog food for cats
Cats who exist on dog food will be seriously shortchanged when it comes to nutrition. Over time, their health will deteriorate quite drastically. While dogs who eat too much cat food might get an upset stomach — and in extreme cases they could develop pancreatitis — it’s much more serious for cats to subsist on dog food.
The downside of cat food for dogs
Obviously cat food isn’t made for dogs. It doesn’t have the wider variety of ingredients, and more importantly it is too protein-dense. That can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting. But all those symptoms will disappear fairly quickly. The more serious problem with cat food for dogs is, it could cause pancreatitis which is life-threatening. Symptoms of pancreatitis include:
Weakness; Lethargy; Appetite loss; Vomiting; Distended abdomen; Diarrhea; Fever