If you’re running low on chicken feed and looking for alternatives, it might seem like a good idea to share your cat’s food with your flock. Cats and chickens have very different dietary requirements though.
Can chickens eat cat food? Yes, chickens can eat a small amount of cat food. Cats need a lot more protein in their diets, so long-term it’ll be bad for chicks. A short-term protein boost can help with molting and egg production though.
How Is Cat Food Different to Chicken Feed
Cats have complex dietary requirements, and their foods, both wet and dry are specially formulated to meet their needs.
The same applies to chicken feed.
The main difference is that chickens require anywhere between 14%-20% protein in their diet depending on their age and stage of their lives.
While cats require anywhere between 30%-45% depending on their age and health. That’s a huge difference, and not something chickens can tolerate in the long-term.
There are times when chickens require a boost in protein. Such as when they’re molting, or when you’re trying to stimulate or support healthy egg-laying.
In these instances, it’s fine to add a little cat food to their feed to help boost their protein intake. What you can’t do is give them cat food in place of their feed.
Can Chickens Eat Cat Food?
Yes, as I explained above, chickens can eat a small amount of cat food. There are instances when it may even be beneficial.
Typically, dry cat food has a higher protein and fat content. Dry food is usually around 28%-26% protein, while wet food will be closer to 10%-15% protein.
So, if you’re intentionally feeding them cat food for the protein content, go for kibble and mix it in with their feed.
What Can Chickens Not Eat List:
Now you understand the pros and cons of giving your chicken’s cat food. There are some foods that are potentially harmful to chickens, however, and should always be avoided.
Some of the most common foods that are known to be toxic are:
Chocolate - This one’s fine by me as I’m a huge chocolate fan and don’t like sharing anyway.
On a serious note, two of the compounds in chocolate are toxic to chickens; these are; theobromine and caffeine.
Coffee Grounds - I put my old coffee grounds into my compost pile in my garden, so I thought I’d check if/how harmful they were to my chickens and other animals that may come across them.
Seeing as coffee also contains theobromine and caffeine, it’s no surprise that coffee grounds are toxic to chicks too.
Avocado Pit and Skin - I think most backyard flock owners consider giving their flock the skins and peels from fruits and vegetables as not to waste them.
Don’t do this with the skin of an avocado! The skin contains a toxin called persin which can cause some painful health defects in birds.
Moldy Foods - Foods that are going bad and started to sprout mold post a health risk to chickens. Don’t chance it with food that’s past its best or leave out their feed in damp conditions.
Raw Beans - Raw beans are one of the most toxic foods a chicken is likely to eat. Unless they’re properly cooked, raw beans contain a toxin compound called lectin.
Symptoms of lectin poisoning range from an upset stomach, such as diarrhea and vomiting, to death.
Foods Chickens Can Eat List:
Chickens require a good blend of nutrition to maintain optimal health and keep laying those eggs for you.
At least 90% of their diet should come from their feed. This leaves you some room to treat them to some other foods. Here is some foods chickens love:
Grains - Chickens love grains, they’re great for them, and it gives them something to scratch around for. So, wheat, oats, rice, quinoa, etc.
Herbs - I grow a lot of herbs so it’s something I share with my chickens and use around the garden. You can pick a herb with a specific wellness benefit, or just see what your flock enjoy.
Vegetables - From a nutritional standpoint, it’s hard to beat vegetables. Most vegetables are fine - just be careful with plants in the nightshade family - try giving your flock some carrots, sweet potato, peels, cabbage, etc.
Now you understand the differences between cat’s and chicken’s dietary requirements and why some backyard flock owners supplement their chicken’s diet with a little cat food.
Cat food is high in protein and can help deliver the protein boost molting and laying hens require. It’s something you need to monitor closely though as too much protein is bad for chickens.
Is Dry or Wet Cat Food Better for Chickens?
It depends on why you want to feed them cat food. If you’re trying to give your flock a protein boost then give them dry cat food. Dry food is typically higher in protein.
Is Too Much Protein Bad for Chickens?
The maximum % of a chicken’s diet that should be protein is 20% and this is for molting chickens. Too much protein will have a negative effect on their health.
Can You Feed Dog Food to Chickens?
Yes, you can feed most dog foods to chickens without causing them any harm. Dogs have much different dietary requirements, however, so it’s not something you can do as a meal replacement.