It’s a well-known fact that high-quality ferret food is expensive as compared to cat food. That is what convinced many ferret owners to switch to cat food.
Whenever I get to meet some of my friends who have kept ferrets for a long time now, I see information coming my way from various perspectives on whether or not cat food is a good option for their pets. Luckily, I had the good fortune to meet some experts on this subject whose advice I can rely on.
Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?
So, let’s get straight to the heart of the matter. Ferrets can and do eat cat food, but the question is, should they be eating cat food? The answer is a bit tricky, but I will try to break it down for you.
To begin with, ferrets need food that has a high percentage of protein and fats. The percentage of fiber in the food, however, needs to be fairly low. The ideal ferret food must contain 30-35% proteins, 20% fats and only 3% fiber. Hence, ferrets can eat cat food merged with ferret food as it will contain the nutrients that your pet needs.
However, there are several factors you need to keep in mind if you are thinking of buying cat food for your ferret to ensure it is beneficial for your adorable friend.
I personally give my ferrets Wysongs Ferret Epigen 90 if you aren't able to get your hands on it, a cat food with the ratio above should be fine. Here's my list of top 5 food for ferrets.
Go for Kitten Food Instead of Adult Cat Food
As opposed to adult cat food, kitten food contains a higher amount of proteins and fats. Since ferrets need a high protein and fat intake, it’s fine to feed kitten food to ferrets.
However, do make sure that the kitten food does not contain any corn or grain. Cat food usually contains grains, which ferrets do not need as they can’t digest them. Hence, if the kitten food has a high percentage of proteins and fats and no corn or grain, go for it.
Cat Food Must Not Contain Carbohydrates
Being obligate carnivores, ferrets can only digest meat and meat products. The digestive tract of a ferret cannot deal with carbohydrates. Most cat food has a significant ratio of carbohydrates such as rice grains.
Therefore, if you plan on buying cat food, always check if it has any carbohydrates. The ones without carbohydrates are fine for your ferret, but you need to avoid cat food with a significant percentage of carbs.
Don’t Forget to Use Fatty Acid Supplements
If you have set your mind on giving cat food to your ferret, don’t forget to feed fatty acid supplements to your furry friend. While some cat foods have enough protein to meet the daily requirements of a ferret, they are usually short on fats.
Remember that your ferret needs both protein and fats in a high quantity. Thus, if you are feeding cat food to it, make sure you give it a fat supplement so that it can meet its nutrition requirements.
Introduce Cat Food Gradually
Your little friends are quite fastidious about their food. You can’t change their menu entirely and expect them to nibble at the new food without them noticing the change. If you have made up your mind to use cat food from now on, start by giving it a little bit with the old meal first.
Then, gradually move on to increasing the quantity of cat food until your furry friend accepts it completely. With patience and little portions, you will make cat food acceptable to your ferret.
Health Problems Arising Due to Cat Food
Ferrets require a highly nutritious diet based mostly on fats and proteins. A diet that is deficient in any one of these two main components may lead to malnutrition.Such a condition can affect the growth of your ferret and is not good for its overall well-being.
Furthermore, an insufficient amount of fatty acids can make your pet’s coat appear dull. Therefore, you need to make sure any cat food you buy meets this requirement.
Grains present in cat food are hard on your ferret’s stomach. Grains such as bread, rice and corn contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. The internal system of ferrets is not designed to digest the complex sugars present in carbs and if consumed, a ferret can develop a condition known as insulinoma which is a cancer of the pancreas.
Moreover, grain consumption can cause organ failure in ferrets. Just make sure any cat food you buy for your ferret does not have any grain.
Can I Use Wet Cat Food?
It is not advisable to feed wet cat food to ferrets. That’s mainly because wet cat food can easily get stuck in their teeth, resulting in plaques. For the sake of their dental hygiene, keep them away from soft, wet food that may cause dental problems later. Remember that your priority must be to keep your ferret healthy so that it lives a long life.
Should I Replace Ferret Food with Cat Food?
You can mix some cat food with ferret food to keep the overall cost of food low. However, it will still not be a good idea to replace ferret food altogether. There is no substitute for ferret food because it contains all the nutrients your pet needs and that, too, in the right quantity.
While the price of ferret food might overwhelm you, do keep in mind that ferrets eat food in small portions. Cat food may cost you less, but it cannot fulfill the daily requirements of your ferret, so you might even need to buy more food and spend more in the long run.
I would advise you to try to buy food that is specially formulated for a ferret. Do try to avoid buying cat food whenever you can. Ferrets require more proteins than cats and have a higher metabolic rate as well. Use cat food only when you badly need to. Otherwise, stick to ferret food.
These little creatures are your precious friends, so make sure you take good care of them so that they live a healthy life.