Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?

Can ferrets eat cat food

Ferrets are very cute, interesting creatures that need a specific diet in order to be as happy and healthy as possible. Although there are many different ferret food options available, some ferret owners opt to feed their ferrets cat food. With cat food generally being cheaper per pound than ferret food, you may be wondering: Can ferrets eat cat food?

Although cat food shouldn't make up the entirety of your ferret's diet, you can feed your ferret specific cat foods, generally kitten food. Giving your ferret a high-quality cat food that fulfills the nutritional needs of a ferret is a good way to vary their diet and be a bit more budget-friendly.

What Do Ferrets Eat In The Wild?

In order to better understand whether or not ferrets should eat cat food, it's important to first learn what ferrets eat in the wild. The thousands of years that ferrets have existed have resulted in a very fine-tuned digestive system within ferrets that efficiently digests and processes the food it commonly runs into.

Because of this characteristic, it's very important that you closely match your ferrets diet to the diet that they would be eating in the wild.

Ferrets are classified as obligate carnivores, meaning that they have a biological need to eat meat. Unlike carnivores which are animals that primarily eat meat but can eat some plant matter, obligate carnivores absolutely need to eat meat in order to get the nutrients that they need to live.

On top of this, obligate carnivores can't digest plant matter. They can consume it, of course, but their bodies can't break it down properly, resulting in intestinal distress.

In the wild, ferrets eat basically everything that they can catch. Some of the most popular animals that are eaten by ferrets are rabbits, rats, birds, and even snakes. Although these meats are quite different, they're all similar in the sense that they provide ferrets with essential vitamins and nutrients.

Wet Or Dry Cat Food For Ferrets?

In short, you should generally always avoid feeding your ferret wet or canned cat food. Therefore, dry cat kibble should be the only food that you feed your ferret. But what exactly makes wet cat food so undesirable for ferrets?

The most prominent reason why wet cat food is bad for ferrets is because it is not very nutrient-rich at all. In fact, even if you were to be feeding a cat wet food, you'd generally want to supplement that food with dry kibble or different supplements.

Dry cat food has about an 8-10% water content while wet cat food is around 75-78%. Immediately, this makes it clear that a ferret would need to eat a large amount of wet cat food in order to get the same nutritional content as dry food. Ferrets do need healthy amounts of protein throughout their day, and they can't meet that requirement if their food is primarily water.

However, this doesn't mean that wet cat food is always a bad idea for ferrets. If your ferret is sick, dehydrated, or recovering from a surgery, dry kibble may not be an easy thing for them to eat and digest. Therefore, wet cat food is a way to keep them hydrated and make their food easy to eat. There is a lack of wet ferret food on the market, so this may be many owners' only option.

What Defines The Best Cat Food For Ferrets?

To be more technical, "cat food" should be changed to "kitten food". Kitten food is a lot more suitable for ferrets due to its nutritional content. Ferrets require a diet that's decently high in protein and fat -- attributes that aren't found in many cat foods as they aim to keep a cat's weight in check. However, kitten foods do have higher protein and fat amounts as they work to help kittens grow healthy and happy.

These guidelines are what you should go off of when searching for the best food for your ferret. There can be slight variations between these guidelines and the food, but supplementation should be considered if there's a deficiency.

  • Protein concentration around 40-60%
  • Fat concentration around 18-22%
  • Fiber concentration around 3-5%
  • The first ingredient (at least) should be chicken, turkey, or duck
  • A lack of grains, fruits, and vegetables (especially peas as they cause complications)

What Are The Best Cat Foods For Ferrets?

It can be a bit intimidating to read the information above and then try to find the perfect cat food for your ferret. Fortunately, we've found the best cat food options on the market today and listed them below for you. If you'd like to see our list of the best ferret foods overall, you can click here.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Natural Kitten Food

If you're looking to feed your ferret something other than ferret food, this kitten food is great.

This food takes a natural approach to its ingredients and is generally well-liked by ferrets.

Additionally, it helps to provide ferrets with healthy coats and ample energy to go about their day.

OUR RECOMMENDATION

Petcurean GO! FIT + FREE Grain-Free Food

The nice protein composition along with an average amount of fat makes this food a nice healthy choice.

This food features a variety of meats that provide healthy omega oils and probiotics.

The lower fat content makes this food great for heavier ferrets, but it's still very tasty and satisfying.

Helpful Ferret Feeding Tips

You may get the best cat food possible for your ferret, but if you're not feeding them right, then they'll experience some negative effects on their health. Therefore, you'll want to follow these guidelines so that your ferrets stay both happy and healthy.

  • Ferrets have a very short digestive system and metabolism, meaning that they need to eat frequently. Therefore, it's essential that you provide your ferrets with a constant supply of food that they can eat at their leisure.
  • Ferrets are picky, imprinting on their food at 6 months old. Changing a ferret's food may result in backlash, but a gradual change can help it go unnoticed by ferrets.
  • A lot of owners opt to mix 2 or 3 foods together to provide their ferrets with some variety, to keep them from being picky, and to round out their diet. However, you can definitely feed your ferret the same food throughout their life as long as they react positively to it.
  • Some foods, especially those not made for ferrets like kitten food, don't meet all of the specific dietary needs of a ferret. This can be helped by providing your ferret with supplemental treats or vitamins.

4 thoughts on “Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?”

  1. naturalbirdslove

    I just bought my first ferret I wondered what food would be best to feed them. One of my friends recommended a good quality cat food with high protein or 8 and 1 Ferret Food. There were not as many types of ferret foods available near my local area. Can you tell a good online store to buy ferret food?

      1. naturalbirdslove

        Thank You So So much for your help and i will also try chewy and beyondthetreat next time. Once again Thank You.

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