Hedgehogs are certainly the most adorable exotic pet you could ever have. Not only are they cute, but they are also easy to care for and enjoy their own company, which means that you can keep them as pets even if you don’t have a lot of spare time to spend with them. However, feeding them can be a real struggle. Although these little guys are quite popular as household pets, getting hold of their pet feed is still not easy in some areas. If you can’t find their feed, what else can you feed them? What about cat food?
Can hedgehogs eat cat food? Yes, Hedgehogs can eat cat food as long as it is not the only thing they’re eating. Cat foods contain a large amount of protein and little fat, which fits these spiny creatures’ dietary needs just perfectly. However, it would help if you mixed their diet up with insects, fruits, and veggies occasionally.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about feeding cat food to hedgehogs: its ingredients, nutritional value, health benefits, and so on.
Why Feed Cat Food to Hedgehogs?
Before we delve into different aspects of feeding cat food to hedgehogs, let’s take a moment to address the question that might’ve bothered every hog owner at some point: why feed cat food to hedgehogs?
Well, the answer to this question is quite straightforward. Our spiny little friends are referred to as “exotic pets” for a good reason. They were not always people’s ideal choice for a pet. In fact, up until the late 20th century, these little guys were rarely kept as pets in households or two. It was only after 1991 that hedgehogs became popular as exotic pets.
Once they were kept as pets in too many households, they would question what they would eat. It took the pet-food manufacturers several years to produce commercial feed specific to their dietary needs. By then, most hog owners had already begun feeding their pets cat food due to the similarity in the two animals’ diets.
Even today, it isn’t easy to find high-quality hedgehog food in every pet store in the neighborhood. If you’re a hedgehog owner, you might have to drive out to some specialty pet store to get your pet’s food. Because of the easy availability of cat food and its nutritional benefits for the hedgies, their owners often feed them cat food.
Will Your Hedgehog Eat Cat Food?
Have you bought cat food for your pet hedgie and wonder whether or not they will eat it? To put all your worries to rest, let’s first give you the basic outline of a hedgehog’s diet in the wild.
As you already know, hedgehogs are omnivores, or should we say “insectivores”? Because a large portion of their diet in the wild (about 70%) consists of insects and beetles. Occasionally, you can also find them feasting on slugs and worms. This is one reason why people keep them as pets; they keep your yards and gardens free from all kinds of pests.
These little guys also eat fruits and veggies, but that is extremely rare. With all that being said, they are opportunistic feeders that would never turn down any food that’s being offered to them. Therefore, if you feed your hedgie cat food, they will probably eat it excitedly.
What Is the Cat Food Made Up of? The Ingredients of Cat Food
Now that we’ve learned that hedgehogs will fondly eat cat food let’s discuss if it can meet their nutritional requirements. And to do that, we need to break down cat food (figuratively, of course) and see what’s it made up of:
You can divide any regular cat food ingredients into two broad groups: carbs and meat products. Since meat products make up the majority of it, let’s begin by talking about them:
Meat is the main source of protein, both in cats and in hedgehogs. There are various meat product combinations that different cat food brands use, and we’ll quickly go through all of them.
The first and most common ingredient is chicken. If a cat food is of premium quality, it will contain a combination of chicken skin and flesh (without bones). However, most of the medium-quality cat foods contain the slaughtered poultry’s remaining carcass, such as feet, neck, and intestines, cleaned and rendered.
These cat foods are also referred to as “by-product meals” and ideal for cats. Other animal meats added to the cat food are beef tallow (obtained from their tissues in the process of rendering), tissues of undecomposed fish, and dehydrated (or frozen) eggs.
While the protein from the meat products maintains the hairs, muscles, bones, and immune system of your cats, the carbs provide them with the energy they need and fibers that play a key role in maintaining their gut health. Wheat flour, corn gluten meal, and brewer’s rice are the three main ingredients added to cat food for carbs.
Other than meat products and carbs, cat food also contains several vitamins and minerals in small amounts to supplement your pet’s overall health.
The Benefits of Feeding Cat Food to Hedgehogs
In the previous section, we talked about the main ingredients of cat food. Now, we’ll talk about how cat food can add to the health of your spiny friends:
- Like all animals, hedgehogs need a balanced diet of all nutrients (carbs, protein, fat, fiber) every day to stay healthy. However, of all the nutrients in their diet, protein is most important. Cat food, being rich in protein, can fulfill their requirement easily.
- Hedgehogs need a diet that is low in fats since they can’t afford to be obese. Cat food is just right for them in this regard as well.
However, there is one thing that you must keep in mind while feeding cat food to your pet hedgehogs. Since hedgehogs are much smaller in size than cats, their diet is smaller than the latter. Thus, you needn’t follow the feeding instructions that come with the cat food, for they’re ideal for cats, not your little pets.
Moreover, you should also make sure that cat food is not the only thing your pet eats. Because hedgehogs are omnivores, the ideal diet for them would have diversity in it.
Can Hedgehogs Eat Wet Cat Food?
The wet cat foods are the ones that contain about 75-78% of moisture. These usually come in steel or aluminum cans.
If you’re wondering whether you can feed the wet cat food to your hedgehog, you certainly can. In fact, wet cat food is a better choice for them than dry ones because the moisture in them will make it easy for them to bite, chew, and digest it. If your pet hedgie is too young or suffering from any dental issues, wet cat food is ideal for them.
What About Dry Cat Food? Is It Safe for Your Hedgehog?
While wet cat foods are better for hedgehogs than dry ones, it doesn’t mean you should never feed them than the latter. If you want to keep your spiny friends happy, adding an occasional crunch to their diet is just the way to do it. However, you must be careful not to overfeed these to them, for it can wear down their teeth if fed too frequently or in excess.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I feed dried fruits to hedgehogs? No, feeding dried fruits to hedgehogs is a bad idea because they have a typically high sugar content that can prove detrimental to their health. Moreover, these fruits are also somewhat sticky and can harm their dental health. Instead of dried fruits, you can safely feed them fresh ones in moderation.
Is it okay to feed nuts to hedgehogs? It would be better not to feed them nuts because if they eat it too fast or do not chew it properly, it can pose a choking hazard.
Do hedgehogs need water? Yes, they do. You must ensure that your pet has access to freshwater all the time. Also, make sure you are changing the water in their dish at the end of each day.
Conclusion: Can Hedgehogs Eat Cat Food?
Despite their size, most people think of hedgehogs as violent animals due to their spiny appearance. On the contrary, these guys are timid and sensitive as pets. They’re perfect little pets for people of all age groups since they’re neither too needy nor too aloof.
If you’re facing difficulties finding premium-quality hedgehog food for your little pet, you needn’t worry. We have an alternate for your pets that is much more readily available: cat food. Cat food not only has an abundance of protein but is also low in fat. You can feed them these safely as long as you’re mixing it up with insects, fruits, or veggies now and then.
Whether you have a cat, are looking to start a hedgehog petting zoo, or are just interested in hedgehogs, we hope this article answered your question definitively.