Can Hamsters Eat Cat Food?
In the wild, hamsters are omnivores, so why should their diet differ as domesticated pets? They can eat a mix of plant parts and insects like mealworms. If you have a hamster and other pets, like a cat, can you share their food? Can hamsters eat cat food safely? In brief, while they can eat it safely in moderation, we don’t recommend it.
Is Cat Food Safe for Hamsters?
Comparing the differences between a cat’s diet and a hamster’s should give you a good idea about the answer. Cat food is not the most ideal for feeding to your hamster, although feeding them a small amount infrequently shouldn’t harm them.
Cats are obligate carnivores. They get all their nutrition from animal products, so cat food is ideally made entirely from animals.
Hamsters are omnivores, meaning they are capable of digesting animal products. However, they also have much lower dietary requirements for animal fats and proteins. Overloading their system with more than they need will only cause digestive issues.
Additionally, cat food contains 8-10% moisture, which generally comes from a process of extrusion done using heat and pressure. This moisture in the food is entirely unnecessary for your hamster.
Most cat food involves the manufacturers spraying a fat layer over the kibble. It should make the food more palatable for cats but can lead to diabetes or obesity for your hamster because they are incredibly susceptible to fat-induced diseases.
While your hamster can eat cat food without ingesting anything toxic, it may end up causing them illness or digestive pain.
It is safe enough for your hamster to receive one or two pieces of cat kibble each week. But there are better snacks that you can give your hamster if you want to supplement their diet or simply treat them.
Beneficial Snacks for Hamsters
As omnivores, your hamster can safely eat a wide variety of foods. That said, it is best to give any and all of these in moderation and to remember how small they are. While a chunk of apple each week might seem minuscule to you, it is a large and very sugary treat for their tiny bodies.
Hamsters can happily snack on fresh fruits and vegetables if you want to give them something tastier than their grain mixture. A few fruits they can eat include:
- Apples without seeds or skin
Think about what a hamster might snack on in the wild if they run across it. Most of the time, they will be on the lookout for leafy, dark green vegetables. These might include:
- Carrot greens
If you want to supplement your hamster’s protein intake, there are quite a few foods that are better for them than cat food. Try to give your hamster slices of these instead:
- Hard-boiled or scrambled egg
- Cottage cheese
- Cooked chicken
Always ensure that these are either still in date or cooked thoroughly to protect your hamster from harmful bacteria. You only need to give them a small slice or sliver twice a week as a treat to ensure that they are getting plenty of protein.
What Not to Feed Your Hamster
As we have thoroughly discussed the best alternatives to cat food that you can feed your hamster, let’s get an overview of other food items that you should avoid including in your pet’s diet.
Caffeine, chocolates, and alcohol are undoubtedly unhealthy for all animals – including hamsters. Therefore, it is highly advised to avoid food containing any of the mentioned ingredients for the safety of your hamster and other pets.
Similarly, when feeding chicken or meat to your hamster, make sure it is perfectly cooked, as raw meat and chicken may contain harmful bacterias. You should avoid onions, tomatoes, garlic, peanuts, potatoes, and raw beans as well.
Hamsters can eat cat food infrequently without suffering any significant consequences. But there are far healthier snacks, like hay or boiled eggs, that you can give them instead.
If you’re looking for different foods to feed your hamster as a treat, add a comment below to let us know!
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