I recently had a conversation with my dear mother. My husband was out of town and I was helping her out at our local animal shelter. During the conversation, we were discussing a duck we rescued. It didn’t have the best life but it is on its way to becoming healthy. My mother asked me, “Can ducks eat cat food?” I told her they could. That is when she responded, “No, they’re not supposed to.” Well, this led to the question that I thought only I had in my head.
Can ducks eat cat food? Ducks can be fed cat food in small amounts, under strict moderation. The nutritional value of cat food is different from the diet that ducks need to sustain their health. Moreover, feeding them cat food is only beneficial when they are either molting or laying eggs.
Cat food is not the main staple in the diet of ducks unless they are going through molting or laying eggs. Too much cat food can lead to problems such as liver damage, obesity, and even malnutrition.
In the case of molting, they lose their feathers and require a protein-rich diet to aid in the growth of new ones. However, cat foods contain fats that can clog up the duck’s digestive system. So it is best to regulate its consumption because an excess of fats can lead to gout.
When purchasing commercial feed for your pet, the wisest choice is always going with the feed created according to their nutritional requirements. Similarly, for your ducks, commercial duck feeds are the healthiest alternative. And as far as supplements are concerned, if your pet duck eats a balanced diet, they will never need any added supplement.
When ducks need extra protein, you can occasionally offer cat food to them to give them a protein boost. In this article, we will discuss all aspects of feeding cat food to ducks.
Is cat food safe for ducks?
As a concerned pet parent, it is natural to worry about the safety of any food you’re about to feed your ducks. Particularly cat food, since the diet of cats and ducks are quite different.
When fed in moderation, cat food is completely harmless to your feathered pets. In fact, cat food contains nothing that can be lethal to the ducks. The worst-case scenario of overeating cat food is that they will consume more nutrients than they need.
With all that being said, it is also true that ducks do need a larger amount of protein in their diet on two occasions: when they molt and at the time of egg-laying. Most waterfowls, including whistling ducks, swans, and geese, molt once a year, shortly after their nesting seasons. However, some species molt after 2 years.
Why feed cat food to ducks?
We’ve established no ingredient in cat food that is harmful to your ducks in the last section. However, don’t you wonder why you would feed cat food to ducks?
Well, there are some added benefits of cat food that your feathered pets can benefit from under some circumstances. Let’s take a look at how cat food can help them:
Adding extra protein to their diet
Designed to meet the dietary needs of cats, which are carnivores, all cat foods are primarily meat-based. This means that they have a high amount of protein.
And while ducks can get all the protein they need from their own diet, these birds could greatly benefit from a little extra protein during the molting and egg-laying season.
Protein would improve the quality of their eggs and make their feathers grow faster at the time of molting. Cat food that contains protein in abundance can give your pets a little boost at these times.
Other health benefits of cat food for ducks
Apart from protein, other nutrients in cat foods can benefit your duck’s health. Let’s look at some of these benefits:
- Cat food is rich in Vitamin A, which supports the healthy eyesight of your ducks, promotes their skin and reproductive health.
- Both Vitamins C and E are present in cat food. These vitamins not only help in maintaining their cell health but also strengthen their immune system.
- It also contains Vitamin D, which is essential in the development of their bones and teeth.
- Omega 3, responsible for keeping your duck’s coat healthy and shiny, is also found in cat food.
- Cat food contains both carbs and fats in abundance. While carbs provide your birds with an easily absorbable energy source, fats are stored to provide energy later.
- Calcium and Phosphorus, the two most important minerals for your ducks, are present in cat food. Together, these minerals promote their healthy bones and teeth, support blood clotting in their body, and help in their nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
- Sodium plays a key role in their muscle movement and regulates the fluids in their body.
In light of all these health benefits, it is safe to assume that cat food can prove beneficial for the ducks when fed correctly and in moderation.
Risks involved with overfeeding cat food to ducks
If you are overfeeding cat food to your feathered pets, your biggest concern will be adding more protein to their body than they can use. And while protein is an essential macronutrient for all animals and birds, including your ducks, excess of it can be detrimental to their health.
Protein is not one of the nutrients that can be stored in your duck’s body for later use. The excess protein they consume is usually excreted, which has a strong smell due to the presence of ammonia in it.
Ammonia can also lead to various health issues in ducks, such as the damaged trachea, poor eyesight, and distress on the respiratory system.
Consuming too much protein also makes the ducks drink more water, which will result in wetter bedding areas and litter. This excess moisture in their surroundings can lead to burns and blisters on their skin and feet.
Therefore, it would be wise not to feed cat food to your ducks, other than in their molting season and when they’re about to lay eggs. Even in these cases, cat food should not make more than 10% of their regular diet.
Dry or wet cat food: which one is better for the ducks?
Most of the duck-owners don’t have thorough knowledge about different kinds of cat foods. Are you one of those and can’t decide whether you should purchase dry or wet cat food for your feathered pets? Don’t worry, we’ve got you.
When it comes to feeding your duck cat food, you should always go with dry cat food because it contains a higher protein intake than wet cat food.
Also, the wet cat food contains up to 80% of moisture, which is much more than what your ducks need.
Can ducklings eat cat food?
If you have ducklings as pets, we recommend that you strictly feed them their feed and nothing else until they are 2 weeks old.
These little birdies undergo their first molt at the age of 6 weeks, which is why there’s no point in feeding them cat food before this time.
As they approach their 6th week, you can begin adding about 5% of cat food to their daily diet.
At the time of their next molting at 15 weeks, 10% of cat food can be added to their diet.
Feeding cat food to ducks: things to keep in mind
Although we have covered most of the important topics already, you should know a few more things about feeding cat food to your ducks. Below, we are going to take a look at them:
Buy a premium-quality cat food for your ducks
For those of you who have never bought cat food before, it will be more expensive than your regular duck feed. However, don’t compromise on the quality of cat food to save money.
There are many cat food brands out there, but not all are up to the mark regarding quality and nutritional value. Cheaper cat food will have low quality and might not meet your duck’s high-protein requirement.
Therefore, you should either purchase only premium-quality cat food for your ducks or avoid buying cat food at all.
Avoid mixing cat food with anything else while serving them.
Most pet parents tend to mix their pet’s commercial feed with other food items like nuts, cereals, corn, and so on to make it more fun for them.
While doing it with their regular duck feed is alright, you must never practice it with the cat food. When it comes to cat food, there is no room for experimentation. Even the cans of cat food have printed instructions to feed it as it is.
Try feeding them these alternatives.
If you don’t want to buy expensive cat food for your pets, there are many natural and inexpensive foods you can feed them to add more protein to their diet.
Peas, cucumbers, zucchinis, kales, collards, and cabbages are all great alternatives and are enjoyed immensely by the ducks, too.
Frequently asked questions
Which grains can I feed my duck? Ducks can eat a large variety of grains as long as you make sure they’re whole grains. Oat, barley, and wheat are all great choices for them.
Can ducks eat mealworms? Yes, ducks are crazy about mealworms. In fact, if you’re using mealworms in training juvenile ducks and ducklings, the results can surprise you.
Conclusion: Can Ducks Eat Cat Food?
While ducks can eat cat food, it is best to keep the quantity of it strictly moderated at all times. Cat food is loaded with protein. It may seem like a good idea at first, but over time it can cause health issues for your ducks.
And that brings us to the end of our article! Thanks for reading! I hope it’s been helpful. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover specifically, or if you have any cool blog post ideas of your own, be sure to contact me.
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