by Sophie Baldwin, Vet nurse & We Love Pets Franchisee

There are many differences between cats and small dogs, apart from the obvious! Although they are both common household pets the cat is an entirely different species and should be treated like so!

Cat’s diet

Understanding the differences is particularly important when it comes to feeding. In this category cats are certainly not small dogs.

Cats have twelve less teeth compared to dogs and their digestive tracts are relatively shorter to process highly digestible meat proteins and fats. The dog’s digestive tract is more developed to enable them to digest plant materials.

Cats are obligate carnivores which means they have to eat meat. Although you can have a vegetarian dog this would be detrimental to the cat and a dog would actually do better with some form of meat in its diet.

Cats need twice as much protein in their diets in comparison to a dog of a similar size. This is because cats ‘burn’ protein to make energy. Nutrients such as taurine, arachadonic acid and preformed Vit A can only be found in animal protein. A lack of taurine for example can lead to blindness, heart issues and tooth decay.

Cats lack certain enzyme systems compared to the dog which can produce nutrients inside their bodies ‘ chemical factory’ that a cat would have to source from animal protein. A cat can therefore develop health problems if they stop eating or are fed the wrong food. One condition is hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). This condition can be caused if the cat stops eating for a long period of time. Cats do not break down the bodies fat reserves for energy very efficiently unlike the dog that can utilize its fat reserves.

Cat’s eating habits

Cats prefer to eat and drink in separate locations. They also prefer wider bowls so that their whiskers do not touch the side of the bowl. Remember a ‘meow’ does not always mean ‘feed me’ it can also be used as a distraction technique.

Medication for cats

As far as medications are concerned we need to be particularly cautious with the cat. Some drugs that are tolerated better in dogs can have severe or fatal side effects in cats eg paracetamol. Flea preparations for dogs are not be be used at all on cats. Permetherin an active ingredient is toxic to cats and can be fatal. Cats will often hide illness by retreating. Dogs on the otherhand will usually mope about and make it more obvious to the owner.

Cats choose their owners!

We all know that cats tend to choose their owners. Many a cat has packed its bag and moved in with the neighbour down the road. (It happened in my own residential close a few summers ago). I know I feel honoured that my cat has decided to stay put with me so hopefully I have met her standards of care!