Do Cats Or Dogs Eat More? Four Fascinating Facts

  • Time to read: 9 min.

If you recently welcomed a kitten or a puppy to your household, you might be wondering how much they might eat compared to your adult dog or cat. In my personal experience, my Labrador would eat his bowl if he could chew through stainless steel, while my cat has leftovers some mornings. So, this got me wondering, do dogs eat more than cats?

Based on the feeding guide that food manufacturers provide, feed intake will depend on the weight and activity levels of the animal. For example, when comparing cats to dogs in the same weight class, dogs eat more per ounce in body weight. The reason for this is that cat food is higher in calories than dog food. 

Cats and dogs are like chalk and cheese; they have different habits, needs, and personalities. It is more common for a dog to give you a warm welcome and a cat to act as if your mere presence offends them. However, their dissimilarities extend beyond quirks all the way to their nutrition needs and eating behaviors.  

Do Cats Or Dogs Eat More? 

There is no straightforward answer here; each food brand will have its own feeding suggestions based on the pet’s weight and breed. Then there is the fact that dogs can weigh anything from one pound to two hundred and fifty pounds and some cats up to twenty-four pounds. For example, a Chihuahua will eat less than a Maine Coon. But a Labrador Retriever will definitely eat more than a British Shorthair. 

To put this in numbers, according to Royal Canin’s feeding suggestions on dry food, the difference in how much each breed needs to eat depends on their weight as well as their activity level: 

SpeciesBreedHighest Weight Low activity High activity 
Canine Chihuahua7.7 lbs.≈ 2.1 oz≈ 2.5 oz
Feline Maine coon22 lbs.≈ 2.8 oz≈ 3.5 oz
Canine Labrador 88 lbs. ≈ 15 oz≈ 20 oz
Feline British Shorthair17.6 lbs.≈ 2.4 oz≈ 3 oz

≈ approximately 

This guide is based on the recipes that Royal Canin has for specific breeds; more generalized categories such as small, medium, and large dogs, will once again have different suggestions on feeding per weight of your pet. And this is just in respect of dry food; when you offer wet food, this might change to some degree. 

If we take a British Shorthair at the same weight as the Chihuahua of 7.7 pounds, the British Shorthair needs to eat between 1.4 oz and 1.8 oz, where the tiny dog eats between 2.1 and 2.5 oz. Another example is a medium breed such as an English Bulldog at 17 pounds that eats between 4 and 5 oz, and comparing it to a British Shorthair of the same weight (17 pounds) that eats between 2.4 and 3 oz seems to confirm that dogs are eating more than cats per ounce in body weight

The main reason for the variation in ounces per body weight is because cat food is high in meaty proteins, which means that there are more calories in cat food than dog food; a cat will need to eat less compared to a dog of the same mass to maintain a healthy weight

Here is a handy calculator for making sure you are feeding your cats and dogs correctly. However, if your pet has any health concerns or is severely underweight or overweight, make sure to consult your vet before you increase or decrease your pet’s food intake. 

Four Fascinating Facts: Canine Vs. Feline Eating Habits

  1. Cats are obligate carnivores – they need meat to stay healthy. Cats cannot survive on a plant-based diet; they will get sick and might die. 

Dogs are omnivores – this means that they need meat and vegetables to stay healthy. The canine diet is a balance between animal and plant products; it is not a matter of either-or. 

  1. Cats can’t taste sweetness; they do not possess those particular taste receptors. You might not believe this since they will try and sneak sweetened yogurt every chance they get. But they are actually attracted to the fat content in sweet things such as ice cream. 

Dogs have a notorious sweet tooth; you’ll notice that some dogs love sweet fruits such as watermelon, bananas, and apples. Grapes or xylitol (a sugar substitute) is very harmful to your dog’s wellbeing, so avoid them at all cost. 

  1. In the wild, cats are predators and hunt small animals for food; this is why your beloved feline comes trotting into the house with an unfortunate small animal hanging from its mouth. Some cats might do this more than others, but this is an instinct for them. 

On the other hand, dogs are essentially scavengers; you won’t find them in places with no food. An article in the Toronto Star explained that keeping this in mind might be the key to better training your dog. 

  1. Cats should not be left without food for days on end. Felines that do not want to eat or are eating less than they are supposed to may result in fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis). If your cat is overweight, usually, the vet will suggest decreasing its food intake little by little to avoid any possible complications. Save Them All, a website that provides expert information on pet care, stated that hepatic lipidosis “typically occurs in cats who have not eaten for several days.”

Dogs can go without food for a day or two and probably won’t present with any adverse issues, but this is still unhealthy for them; if your dog is not eating after you have tried everything. Take your pet to the vet because there might be a serious reason for his behavior. 

Which Species Is The Pickiest Eater: Cats Or Dogs? 

While some canine breeds are notorious for being Hoovers, a few dogs are also known for being finicky, regardless of their heritage. You might find that your dog does not want to eat the same thing every day, especially when they smell your yummy food. A common mistake is giving table scraps to your dog; owners have trouble getting their dog to eat boring kibble when they have grown used to more appealing flavors.  

On the other hand, Cats are a little more pedantic when it comes to feeding time, and this might simply be the way their instincts work, or it is also likely that they are a little spoiled. However, in the wild, kittens are taught what to eat from their mothers. If they are used to having just one food source, they probably won’t trust anything else. While this is a great survival instinct, it could present with some trouble when you need to change your kittie’s kibble. 

The Difference Between Bad Eating Habits And Health Issues

We love our pets; giving them treats is just one way to show our affection, but sometimes we do more harm than good. Cats and dogs may develop bad eating habits as a result of how and what we feed them. But don’t always think your pet is just bored or spoiled; sometimes, their appetites are linked to health issues or environmental stresses

How can you tell the difference between being spoiled or when there is another, more serious reason for the hunger strike? You know your pet better than anyone, so by now, you would know if your pet is a picky eater. If not, well, a cat or dog that suddenly stops eating and drinking is cause for concern. The first thing that you can try is to offer something a little more enticing, and if this does not prompt them to eat, call your vet and ask them for some guidance. There are some common problems at play in this scenario: 

  • Your pet might be ill or have an infection. Usually, we can keep our pets safe from common illnesses with routine vet checks and vaccinations.  However, some owners are under the impression that kittens and puppies only need shots while small; this is not true. Your pet needs to receive yearly vaccinations to guard against dreaded illnesses. If you suspect that your cat or dog might be sick, call the vet to check the symptoms; this way, you’ll know if you have to bring the animal in or if you can allow a day or two before making a trip to the vet if your furry friend is not getting any better. 
  • Organ diseases – such as kidney failure, pancreatitis, and intestinal problems – or cancer can also cause your pet not to feel well enough to eat. You won’t know this is a problem until a diagnosis, and this is why routine vet visits are essential. 
  • Trauma and pain will affect your pet’s appetite. Cats are masters at hiding their discomfort, but they cannot hide the fact that they are not eating. If your cat was in an accident but seems fine and just not eating, you still need to take them to the vet. They might be suffering from internal injuries. Remember that cats and dogs can also suffer from neurological trauma (concussions, for example), which could be another reason they do not want to eat. 
  • A toothache is enough to put your pet off their food; remember always to ask your vet to check your cat or dog’s mouth when you take them in for routine visits. Early prevention of dental issues can save you a lot of trouble later. 
  • Moving into a new environment can make your pet feel unsafe; there is no need to visit the vet here. Keep your pet in a safe space inside your home and allow them some time just to get used to the new sights and smells around them. 
  • Sudden environmental changes – like getting a new cat or dog – may cause your existing pet to protest the invasion by going on a hunger strike. Typically, just like moving, it will take time for things to settle, and your cat or dog should start eating again on their own. 
  • Old age, when your pet is stepping alongside you for a while now, they might be eating less; getting older is tough on humans and animals. You can switch the senior citizen’s hard-to-chew kibble with soft food. Another option is to pour boiling water over their dry food and allow it to cool down before serving it to them. 

Can Cats Eat Dog Food And Visa Versa

If you recently welcomed a dog to your family, you’ll have already realized that you cannot leave kitty’s food on the kitchen floor anymore. Now, training your dog not to eat cat food can be done, but don’t be surprised when Snoopy still tries his luck now and then. Though it should not be an emergency when the pets occasionally share food, it should not be a daily occurrence

First off, cats are felines, and dogs are canines, meaning they are two distinct species of animals. Because they are so different, their dietary needs are not the same. Cats are obligate carnivores, and they need meat to survive. On the other hand, dogs are not carnivores; they are omnivores and eat meat and vegetables. 

Cat food is packed with meaty goodness, and this will be quite appealing to your dog. Though it should not cause any damage if your dog steals a bite, you cannot give your dog cat food as a regular diet. Severe complications, such as pancreatitis, may develop as your dog’s organs cannot effectively process the high meat-protein food that cats should eat. 

The same would apply to feeding your cat dog food; once again, having a few is not the issue, but your cat will not remain in top form if you provide the wrong food. Cats that are allowed to roam freely will most likely start to feed themselves through hunting small animals. It might not sound like such a big deal, but cats can get into a world of trouble when they hunt around the vicinity. 

When your cat feels the need to provide for themselves, undesirable situations may arise, such as hunting your next-door neighbor’s hamster or Tweety across the street. As funny as it might sound, this will not result in clever cartoon material. Apart from becoming the next Sylvester James Pussycat, secondary poisoning from rats and mice poses a significant risk to your feline friend. Be sure you can provide what your pet needs; we need to ensure they are healthy by feeding them food made with their dietary needs in mind

Conclusion

Keep an eye on your pet when their eating behaviors change suddenly; this can be an indication of a severe problem. A day without food does not cause concern, sometimes your pet might just not be hungry, and that is fine. Cats and dogs have different nutritional needs, so they need to eat food that is specifically made for them, in the amount the manufacturer or vet has suggested. 

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