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Can Chickens Eat Cat Food?

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Being obligate carnivores, cats need a lot of animal protein in their diets. Chickens, on the other hand, are omnivores. So, they can thrive on the right mix of plant and animal matter. That being said, can chickens eat cat food? Let us see.

Can chickens eat cat food?

Chickens can eat cat food. However, the consumption of cat food by chickens is only beneficial when done over a brief period. Over extended periods, the elevated levels of protein in cat food may become harmful for chickens.

You must be wondering why and how elevated protein consumption over prolonged periods is bad for chickens. Well, in the rest of this article, we explain that and much more.

Can Chickens Eat Cat Food?

Chickens can eat cat food for short periods. But having chickens eat cat food for extended periods may harm their health.

Chickens only need around 14-20% protein in their diet, depending on age, productivity, and season. Depending on their age, cats, on the other hand, need around 1.5-2 times the protein needs of chickens.

Accordingly, cat food supplies around 30-45% protein, while chicken food provides about 14-20% protein.

Short bursts of elevated protein consumption provided by cat food are okay for chickens. There are specific periods when the protein requirements of chickens shoot up. At such times, letting them have cat food, which is highly proteinous, is practical.

But letting your chickens eat cat food continually is unhealthy. The body of a chicken can only use so much protein. So, any excess it gets is excreted or stored as fat.

What Excess Protein Can Do to Chickens

While moderately fat chickens are okay, overly fat chickens are unhealthy. That aside, waste produced from protein can be toxic. Proteinous wastes typically give off an ammonia smell, and prolonged exposure to this odor can cause health issues in chickens. Some of these issues are eye irritation and respiratory distress.

Excess protein may also harm the kidney and liver of chickens.

Then again, consuming elevated levels of protein will trigger the need to drink more water. As chickens drink more water than usual, the chances of them wetting their bedding increase.

Wet bedding will promote the growth of microbes, which may be harmful to chickens.

That aside, the nitrogen content of chicken urine will be higher when they consume excess protein. So, if chickens wet their bedding with their urine, the chances of nitrogen compounds blistering the feet are elevated.

When Cat Food Is Okay for Chickens

All in all, never let cat food replace actual chicken food in your chickens’ diet. You may offer your chicken cat food when it is molting or laying eggs. Their protein needs heighten at these times, so letting them have cat food is beneficial and practical. At the times when they do not need extra protein, let them have the usual chicken food.

Wet cat food in an open can and dry pet food on dark background

Can Chickens Eat Wet Cat Food?

Chickens can eat wet cat food. But should chickens eat wet cat food? Well, it depends.

Generally, wet cat food has more protein and fat than dry cat food, so you may give it to chickens when necessary.

As we mentioned before, while molting or laying eggs, chickens need more protein. So, wet cat food can be helpful when given for a limited period at such times.

If you give chickens wet cat food for prolonged periods or when they do not need more protein than usual, you may expose them to the risks of eating excess protein.

Note that sometimes dry cat food has more protein than wet cat food. So, always confirm protein content to ensure that you are not giving your chicken way too much protein.

Can Chickens Eat Dry Cat Food?

Chickens can eat dry cat food. However, should chickens eat dry cat food?

Dry cat food is okay for molting or laying chickens. But it should never become a mainstay in their diet for the reasons we already stated.

Cute kitten putting its paw on bowl of cat food on white background

Is Dry Cat Food Better Than Wet Cat Food for Chickens?

Well, if what you want for your chickens is protein, wet cat food typically offers more protein. But there are cases when dry cat food contains more protein.

Generally, some people posit that cat food – wet or dry – is not ideal for chickens, and they may be correct. Besides the sky-high protein content of cat food being a problem, the ingredients may also be an issue.

Some cat foods may contain ingredients that are unsafe for chickens. Then again, the content of the food may be unhealthy for humans. Sadly, if one consumes the flesh or egg of a chicken that has consumed such toxin, one may become sick.

15 Types of Proteinous Foods Chickens Can Eat

While chickens can eat cat food, you should try alternative sources of protein for your chickens. Some of them include the following:

  • Boiled Eggs
  • Fish
  • Mealworms
  • Lentils
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Oats
  • Parsley
  • Milk
  • Whey
  • Buttermilk
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Garden Peas
  • Earthworms

Of course, as with anything you feed your chickens, moderation is essential, particularly with dairy products. If you give your chicken too much milk, they will suffer from diarrhea.

A hen and gray cat in the farmyard

Final Thoughts

Chickens can eat cat food when molting or laying eggs; the extra protein will help them in such conditions. But under the usual conditions, chickens should be raised on chicken feed. The elevated levels of protein offered by cat food are potentially harmful to chickens when unused.

If the safety of the ingredients in cat food for your chicken worries you, try out any of the alternatives we listed above.


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