Unfortunately, on any given day countless thousands of stray cats wander around looking for food. Moreover, in the wintertime, these homeless cats seek out warmth and shelter. This brings them closer to people’s homes as they look for a dry, warm place to sleep and food to eat. If you have noticed a stray cat around the vicinity of your home, you might be wondering what you can give it to eat. And one question that many individuals often ask is, ‘will stray cats eat dog food?’.
Is Dog Food Okay?
When thinking about the question of will stray cats eat dog food, it is worth remembering that stray cats are almost always extremely hungry. They usually scavenge for food and will therefore eat almost anything they can just to survive. So, if you have a dog and have put its food outside, do not be surprised to see a stray cat trying to eat anything that your dog might leave behind. Whether or not to intentionally give a stray cat dog food though is another matter altogether.
Although occasionally eating dog food should not cause any major harm to a stray cat, this type of food should not be given regularly and definitely not exclusively. There are a number of reasons for this. The first being that cats require vitamin A, which tends not to be present in dog food; this is because dogs can make their own. While some dog food will have additional Vitamin A, there will not be enough of it to sustain a healthy cat.
Dogs also make another essential amino acid that cats require – taurine. Without adequate taurine, a cat can suffer hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a specific type of heart disease.
Cat and dog foods are created specifically to suit the needs of the intended species of animal. So as each have such different requirements in terms of protein and essential minerals and vitamins, it is inadvisable to feed a stray cat dog food, especially on a regular basis.
What Food Can You Give?
If you don’t have cat food to hand (unless you own a cat, this is highly unlikely), then don’t worry. Stray cats are not particularly fussy and there is likely to be something in your home that is suitable to give them.
Lean meat is always an excellent choice for a stray cat, so if you have ham, chicken, or turkey in your fridge, you could cut up some small pieces and give it to the cat. You might also be surprised to find out that cats will also eat things such as rice and couscous. However, if you are going to give grains to a stray cat, make sure it is fully cooked to make it easier to digest.
Tinned fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel can also be given, but it is not a good idea to exclusively feed fish to a cat as it can lead to the above-mentioned taurine deficiency.
You might also be unaware that eggs are also suitable for stray cats. As long as the eggs are cooked, they offer a fantastic source of protein for the feline.
As you can see, many foods found in the home are suitable for stray cats. Conversely though, it is important to be aware that there are some foods that should be avoided as these can be toxic to a cat. These foods include, raisins, grapes, garlic, onion, chocolate, and macadamia nuts.
As well as this, milk should really not be given to cats, contrary to popular belief. In fact, while stray cats may eagerly lap up a saucer of milk, it is better to avoid it. Cats do not have the necessary enzymes required to process cows’ milk. It is therefore much better to offer water instead.
The only time milk is appropriate for a cat is if you find a stray kitten or kittens, but even then, cows’ milk should be avoided. You can buy special kitten milk at your local pet store to give to the stray kittens. Nevertheless, the kittens will need to be fed from an animal-feeding syringe. Kittens require additional help and attention if they have been separated from their mother, so we strongly advise that you contact your nearest rescue centre as soon as possible.
What Else Can You Do?
If you do start feeding a stray cat, there are other things you can do for it. The first thing is to determine if the cat is actually lost or abandoned. A cat that is lost will likely have a collar or otherwise be microchipped. It is probably best to take the cat to a local vet for help and advice. The vet can then check if the cat has been microchipped and if so, he or she can help to reunite the cat with its owner.
If it does end up being a stray, you could take it to a shelter where it is likely to be neutered and released. If you have grown attached to the cat though, you might decide to adopt it. If this is the case, ask your vet about the appropriate vaccinations. Offering food, warmth, shelter, and love to a stray cat will change its life forever.