Cats cannot thrive on dog food. Dogs cannot thrive on cat food. But why?
In so many obvious ways cats look, act, react, and respond differently than dogs. What is more difficult to see, however, are the metabolic and chemical differences between the two.
- Cats are carnivores. The cat is considered by scientists to be a strict carnivore, while dogs are considered to be omnivores. A cat cannot sustain its life unless it consumes meat in some form. Dogs however are able to survive on plant material alone. They do not have to consume meat. But always keep in mind that dogs do best and, by nature, are primarily meat eaters.
- Cats cannot produce Taurine. Taurine, and amino acid, is important for the healthy functioning of the heart, retina, bile fluid, and certain aspects of reproduction. Unlike in dogs, cats have to eat pre-formed Taurine. That is why cat food must contain some source of taurine in the proper amount.
- Cats cannot produce Vitamin A. Also called retinol, Vitamin A is required at the cellular level by both cats and dogs. Cats process little or no enzymes that will break down the plant produced carotenoids. They must eat pre-formed active Vitamin A (that is Vitamin A that already has been converted from carotenoids to its active form). Dogs, meanwhile, have enzymes in the lining of the intestine that can break down plant carotenoids and convert these into active Vitamin A.
- Cats are sensitive to low Arginine levels. A building block for proteins, Arginine is a vital amino acid that allows the ammonia created in the body after digesting a high protein meal to be converted into urea, which is excreted in the form of urine. Cats are extremely sensitive to even a single meal deficient in Arginine, and they are unable to make their own Arginine within their chemical factory. Dogs meanwhile are not very sensitive to low levels of Arginine in their diets. Dogs also produce enzymes internally that can aid in the production of Arginine.
- Cats cannot produce Arachidonic acid. If a dog eats enough proper fats, his body can produce Arachidonic acid. Cats cannot produce this acid due to their liver’s inability to convert Linoleic acid into Arachidonic acid.
Dog food can be very harmful to cats because it is lacking the proper nutrition cats need in their diets. Cats metabolize foods differently and need the extra proteins, vitamins and amino acids. Your cat may like the taste of your dog’s food, but it could be harmful to their health.
Dogs on the other had can live on cat food alone, but it is not advised. The caloric density, high protein levels, and heavy doses of fat are not suited for all canine digestive tracts…or their waistlines. Cat food eating dogs tend to become obese and suffer more gastrointestinal ailments than dogs that eat strictly dog food. Diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis (which can be life threatening) are possible outcomes for either short or long term feeding of cat food to dogs. Kitten food, with its even higher protein and fat levels, is even less appropriate for dogs.