Guinea pigs belong to the species of rodent that belong to the cavy family. Some breeders call them cavy but they are still commonly known as guinea pigs. They are also identifiable among other rodents because of their stocky and large body and can grow up to 3 lbs. with a length of 10-16 inches.
They are some of the most popular pets aside from dogs and cats and are easy to tame and their food doesn’t cost that much. Many guinea pig owners like to feed their pets different types of food, however, one question that a lot of people asking is can guinea pigs eat cat food?
The short answer Yes! Guinea pigs can eat cat food but only in very small amounts! This is because cat food doesn’t contain the right diet requirements that guinea pigs need to survive!
Can Baby Guinea Pigs Eat Cat Food?
No! baby guinea pigs can not eat cat food as it does not contain the same nutrients that are necessary for their proper growth. They should never eat anything but the food made for guinea pigs.
Baby guinea pigs still have sensitive stomachs and must be given soft vegetables and fruits before slowly introducing them to other food when they already got used to feeding solid food.
Take Note: Guinea pigs are herbivores so giving them too much cat food can make them sick because they cant digest the food properly “as a result” it can build up in their stomach and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and digestive infections!
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Dry Cat Food?
Yes, a small amount will not make your guinea pig sick but it’s not recommended! Because it doesn’t have the nutrients that the guinea pig needs and it has too much fat that may lead to obesity and heart disease.
It can also cause diarrhea due to its high protein content that is not required by the herbivore stomach.
Most cat foods don’t have water-soluble vitamins and guinea pigs need a constant supply of Vitamin C because they could not produce it on their own. Vitamin C deficiency in guinea pigs may lead to scurvy and ulcers in their oral cavity.
Cat food is okay if it happens that you ran out of guinea pig food but you must not feed them cat food on a regular basis as it is not healthy for them at it will not supply the nutrients that their body needs.
Before you consider feeding your guinea pig dry cat food let’s go over the ingredients so you can get a better idea of what’s in it. For starters, dry cat food has 8 to 10 percent moisture and is made through extrusion cooking with high heat and high pressure.
Fat is then sprayed on the food to improve its taste and palatability. Its ingredients are cooked and mixed in an extruder machine with a high temperature and high-pressure environment.
This is when the vegetables, vitamins, and minerals are pushed through a die plate to make different shapes then they expand, harden, and acquire their crunchy texture known as dry cat food.
- Protein – Protein is essential for a cat’s growth and development and its metabolism is well-suited to a protein-based diet. However, high protein diet, is not good for a guinea pig as they only require 18 to 20 percent in their diet
- Taurine – is an amino acid that is important for heart health and is essential for a cat’s growth and development, the same can be said for the guinea pig.
- Arginine -is also an amino acid that is essential to control the level of ammonia in the blood. Arginine deficiency can cause neurological problems that may lead to seizures and even death.
- Omega 3 and 6 – support a healthy immune system and other important biological functions. It can be found in eggs, fish oil, and flaxseeds. A portion of dry cat food is rich in omega 3 which will give your cat or in this case a “guinea pig” a smooth skin and a shiny coat.
- Vitamins and Minerals – a complete combination of vitamins and minerals is essential in dry cat food. It aids a balanced diet and supports a healthy immune system. It has water-soluble vitamins B12 and C, plus it has the minerals – iron, calcium, and zinc.
- Probiotics – supports digestion by promoting a healthy balance of bacteria in your cat’s digestive tract. It keeps the immune system strong because it enables the complete absorption of nutrients again this can be a benifit to the guinga pig.
So there is some information on how cat food is made and what the ingredients are “but” all because there are some ingredients that can benefit your little piggy doesn’t mean you should feed it to them in large quantities.
Can Guinea Pigs Eat Wet Cat Food?
Guinea pigs are herbivores, which means that their stomach is designed to digest plants. Even their mouth structures are designed to efficiently nibble and cut through plants.
Cats are “obligate” carnivores that are why most of their diet is based on protein and the ingredients of wet cat food will make a guinea pig seriously ill because they are not meat eaters, their stomach could not process the meat consumption.
They have sensitive digestive tracks that can only process plant diet and soft foods that’s why they should not be given any wet cat food because it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other health problems.
Unlike cats, they don’t need high amounts of protein because they cannot metabolize that and it will make them fat, become obese or they can develop heart disease.
Wet cat food has similar ingredients to dry cat food only that it is composed primarily of meat and other wet ingredients while dry cat food underwent extrusion cooking to harden itself and become kibbles.
As an obligate carnivore, the main source of protein for cats are composed of meat and wet cat food’s ingredient is the same as the dry food, only that it undergoes a different process.
Difference Between Guinea Pig And Cat Food
There is a lot of differences in ingredients between cat food and guinea pig food including its nutritional value. Cat food’s ingredient is mostly meat and is protein-based, while guinea pig’s food is mostly from plants and is mainly carbohydrate-based.
Their stomach built is also different. Cats have carnivorous stomachs while the guinea pigs have herbivorous stomachs, and the ingredients of their food are also designed to suit their nutritional needs.
Cats need higher protein content while guinea pigs need carbohydrate content for energy!
One small portion of cat food contains 50 percent calories, 40 percent fat, and 1-2% carbohydrate. However, guinea pigs need at least 40 percent carbohydrate, vitamins, vitamin C, carbs, in their diet!
That’s the reason why guinea pigs can eat only dry cat food in smaller quantities because they didn’t need the nutrition that wet cat food has.
Are There Any Benefits Of Feeding Guinea Pigs Cat Food?
Guinea pigs will receive no nutritional value or benefits from eating cat food because it just doesn’t have the nutritional requirements the guinea pigs need. Their stomachs are not designed for cat food that’s why if they do so, they can only eat smaller amounts and should be “dry” cat food only.
Guinea pigs need to eat forage like grass and hay. They also need to obtain fair amounts of vitamin C in their system because they cannot produce it themselves.
Guinea pig food has a different nutrient and vitamin value compared to cat food. As much as possible, do not feed your guinea pigs dry cat food, even if it wouldn’t cause any health complications just to be safe.
Guinea pigs can eat dry cat food but it can’t replace pellets, hay, and other main parts of their diet as it does have the nutrition that your guinea pig needs. Cat food has high amounts of protein and fat with no vitamin C content.
What Can Your Feed Guinea Pigs Instead Of Cat Food?
Guinea pigs need to have a balanced diet, they should have hay, pellets, and vegetables. Just like us, guinea pigs can’t produce vitamin C on their own that’s why they need to have a rich supply of vitamin C in their diet.
Here’s what to feed your guinea pigs to keep them healthy:
- Hay – provide an unlimited quantity of fresh timothy hay every day. Guinea pigs need a continuous supply of hay to aid their digestion and limit their teeth growth. It will keep the nutrients that they need in their body and they’ll be able to metabolize them properly.
- Fruits – it works as an occasional treat that can be offered thrice or several times a week. Keep them in small portions since fruit is high in sugar. Strawberries, kiwis, apples and other citrus fruits have high levels of vitamin C.
- Vegetables – they should comprise leafy greens like lettuce, cilantro, kale, and parsley. It’s best to provide them a variety of greens each day. Vegetables like broccoli and pepper have high levels of vitamin C in them and are good for daily consumption. You can add carrots, tomato, zucchini, sweet potato at least once or twice a week to achieve its optimal nutrition.
- Commercial pellets – it is recommended to feed them vitamin C-fortified pellets without seeds or dried fruit because vitamin C usually degrades quickly. It is also best that they have vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables to supply their nutritional needs.
A lack of vitamin C makes guinea pigs more prone to other diseases, including infections and predisposes guinea pigs to skin problems.www.vcahospitals.com
Always Keep It Fresh!
Just like us, we appreciate the taste of food especially if it’s fresh! You can constantly feed your guinea pigs but you should remove uneaten portions of perishable foods like fruits and vegetables before they spoil.
- After an hour or more, check for unfinished or untouched foods and remove them from their dish and enclosures.
- Guinea pigs move around a lot that they may kick part of their beddings and or droppings into their pellets. Check and replace them regularly.
- Check and see if they have too many pellets left in their dish for a day, maybe you’re giving them too much and they can’t consume the whole thing.
- Add variety to your guinea pig food by giving them treats and/or fruits and vegetables. That way they can also meet the nutrition that their body needs.
- Always provide your guinea pig a fresh supply of clean water to keep them hydrated. There are hanging water feeders that you can buy so that their supply of water is always clean and free from dirt because it is hanging on top of their enclosures.
- Regularly check and change their beddings in their enclosures to keep your guinea pig’s environment clean and free from contamination.
- Always wash your hands before and after handling their food especially when you are handling your guinea pigs too because they’re so cute.
So as you have just read guinea pig can eat small amounts of cat food and although you may have been told it’s ok feeding your pet guinea pig cat food, we don’t recommended it.
Cat food can cause health problems for the animal and should never be used as part of their diet. So make sure you’re aware of what types of foods are appropriate to feed them instead.
The most important thing to remember “if you still want to give them cat food” which we don’t recommend! is that guinea pigs’ diet should not be supplemented with cat food. Cat food does provide protein, but it lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals that a guinea pig needs for proper growth and development.
If you’re worried about your pet’s nutrition levels, you should consult with your veterinarian or an expert at a veterinary clinic near you to find out what they recommend as far as feeding goes.