Can Chickens Eat Cat Food?

Chickens are omnivores requiring a mix of plant and meat materials to ensure optimum health. Cats are carnivores and demand a diet rich in meat-based proteins. Although the two animals have different nutritional requirements, can chickens eat cat food?

Chickens can eat cat food as an occasional treat. Cat food that adheres to nutrient profiles set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials will include a healthy mix of protein, minerals, and vitamins, which act as antioxidants, keeping the body and immune system healthy.

If you want to give your chickens a protein boost, cat food will do the job, as it generally contains between 30% – 50% protein. Poultry owners often give cat food to chickens when they are molting or when some flock members are recovering from an injury or illness. Maintaining a chicken’s weight during winter months can be made easier with the help of cat food.

Can Chickens Eat Cat Food?

Chickens can eat cat food, which can provide a healthy boost when added to a balanced commercial chicken feed diet. Cat food is very high in protein and can help chickens grow and develop.

Add minerals, vitamins, and a host of additional nutritional elements, and you get why cat food is considered a healthy treat by many a chicken owner. Avoid feeding your feathery friends cat food that contains excessive amounts of salt and artificial preservatives, as they can do more harm than good.

The trick is to feed your chickens cat food for brief periods, as prolonged exposure to the high-protein food source can lead to health complications such as obesity, heart problems, and issues with their gastronomical systems. Feeding chickens excessive amounts of high-protein cat food can harm their liver and kidneys.

Adding more protein to the laying hen’s diet can result in them producing better quality eggs. If you don’t want to expose your chickens to an overload of protein found in cat food, then try the following food sources to inject extra protein into your chickens’ diet:

  • Boiled eggs
  • Buttermilk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Earthworms
  • Mealworms
  • Milk
  • Whey
Brown chicken eating in grass covered field

Is Cat Food Healthy for Chickens?

Commercial chicken feed is formulated to provide the most nutrition to the flock. Good quality cat food, made by respected brands, contains all the nutritional ingredients to provide our beloved fur balls with all the required goodness.

Depending on their age, chickens require between 15-20% protein in their diets, which is specially formulated in approved commercial chicken feed. Cat food contains much more protein than a chicken requires.

The best cat food contains the following nutrients, which are passed on to your chickens when you decide to feed your feathery friends some cat food:

  • Calcium – Helps to build bones while lending a hand regarding muscle relaxation and contractions. Calcium activates enzymes and features in many hormone secretion processes.
  • Choline – Aids in metabolizing and transporting fats, directly aiding the brain and nervous system by producing the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
  • Folic Acid – Fulfills a crucial role in the process of new cell creation and helps to lower the homocysteine levels in the body, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Vitamin A – Assists with growth, vision, cell development, and overall immune functions.
  • Vitamin B1 – Thiamine (Vitamin B1) converts food into an energy source while helping nerve tissue to grow and function.
  • Vitamin B2 – Together with coenzymes, riboflavin converts food into usable energy while keeping the brain and skin healthy.
  • Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine assists in the process of producing red blood cells and helps to convert tryptophan into serotonin and niacin. Niacin is known to metabolize proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Serotonin helps with sleep, moods, and appetite.
  • Vitamin B12 – Breaks down fatty and amino acids and lowers homocysteine levels, which are good for the heart. It helps produce red blood cells while protecting nerve cells and encourages growth.
  • Vitamin C – Ascorbic acid aids the immune system and cartilage. Vitamin C also enhances eye health, lessening the chance of developing cataracts, and helps to produce collagen, which supports the walls of blood vessels.
  • Vitamin D3 – Cholecalciferol helps to support bone health and calcium metabolism.
  • Vitamin E Plays the role of antioxidants repelling free radicals from injuring healthy cells while keeping the animal’s immune system, skin, and coat healthy.
  • Vitamin K – Plays a massive role in protein synthesis needed for blood clotting and helps with the growth of healthy bones.
  • Magnesium – Works closely with calcium in building bones and regarding muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, and blood clotting.
  • Pantothenic Acid – Component required in the metabolization of carbohydrates and fat into usable energy while also playing a part in protein metabolism.

Can Chickens Eat Dry Cat Food?

Cat food is available in many types: dry, semi-moist, and canned varieties. To ensure you feed your chickens healthy cat food, please read the label to confirm that the food is a balanced mix of essential nutrients.

Chickens can eat dry cat food.

Best Dry Cat Food to Feed to Chickens

Typically, dry cat food is a mixture of meat and its byproducts, minerals, grain, vitamins, poultry byproducts, and fish and bone meal. The ingredients are dried into small bite sizes for cats to cater to the felines in their different development stages.

Here are some of the best-dried cat foods:

Can Chickens Eat Wet Cat Food?

Chickens can eat semi-moist and canned cat food. Both these types of cat food contain meat and meat byproducts. Semi-moist cat food may contain some preservatives and fillers to enhance the taste profile but will dry out quickly and spoil if not eaten at once when the packet is opened.

Canned cat food contains grains, vegetables, and various meat sources. Canned cat food contains moisture and can help with hydration during the hot summer. Ensure you check the nutritional label when buying canned food for your chickens, as not all brands have the same nutritional value.

Best Wet and Canned Cat Food to Feed Your Chickens

Here are some of the best wet and canned cat food options to feed to your feathery flock:

Conclusion

Chickens can eat cat food as it’s a good source of extra protein, minerals, and vitamins. Cat food can benefit hens when laying eggs or when chickens are molting. Don’t overfeed your flock of chickens’ cat food, as it can lead to overweight chickens and health issues affecting their liver, kidneys, and heart.

References

Can Chickens Eat Cat Food? – The Hip Chick

What should I feed my backyard hens? – RSPCA Knowledgebase

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