Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food? What You Need To Know

Last updated on February 25th, 2023 at 08:36 am

Are you wondering if ferrets can eat cat food? In this comprehensive guide, we provide the answers you need to ensure your pet gets all the nourishment they need while avoiding harmful foods.
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One of the commonest questions among ferret owners has been, “can ferrets eat cat food?” If so, what type of cat food do ferrets eat? Every pet owner wants to feed their pets the best food to keep them healthy. However, the bad news is that pet stores do not always stock the right food for the least popular pets, such as ferrets. There are also instances when you do not have enough money to afford a proper diet for your ferret. Additionally, employees are not quite conversant about taking care of ferrets in the best way possible.

For this reason, it is not uncommon to find most people feeding cat food to ferrets. To be in a position to understand whether or not cat food is good and sufficient for your ferrets, it is good to understand the ferrets’ diet first. This way, you know what ferrets need to survive and prosper.

When choosing a cat food for your ferret, look for one that is specifically formulated for ferrets. These foods are typically higher in animal-based proteins, low in carbohydrates, and supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Avoid foods that contain grains, which ferrets cannot digest. Be aware that some cats are picky eaters and may not want to share their food with ferrets. If your cat is unwilling to share, you may need to purchase a separate food for your ferret.

Ferrets Nutritional Needs

Ferrets have a fast metabolic rate, implying that they must often eat all day long. Comparing the meal frequency between a cat and a ferret, while a cat has 2 or 3 meals daily, a ferret will eat between 8 and 10 smaller meals. Ferrets require a high-fat and high-protein diet, with a fat content of at least 30%. This high-fat diet is necessary for their energy needs and helps them maintain their body weight. Protein should make up at least 35% of their diet, and the remainder should be carbohydrates.

Vitamins and minerals are also important components of a ferret’s diet. Ferrets require Vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, and Vitamin E, as well as calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin A is especially important for eye, coat, and skin health. B-complex vitamins are essential for a ferret’s metabolism, immune system, and nervous system. Vitamin E is important for their red blood cell production and for their vision. Calcium and phosphorus are important for their bones and teeth. This is the reason why this is a very common supplement for ferrets.

Below is a summary of essential facts about a ferret’s nutrition you should always remember:

  • Ferrets are carnivores meaning that they require a high-protein, high-fat diet that is rich in animal-based proteins.
  • A ferret’s digestive system can’t handle so many carbohydrates like grains.
  • The pet has a high metabolism meaning that it burns so many calories.
  • Sugar is bad for a ferret, and this includes every complex carbohydrate.
  • Too many sugary treats like ice cream and chocolate are bad for ferrets.
  • Ferrets are fussy, which is likely to yield problems when you cease giving them their favorite treats.
  • The best way to provide your ferret with a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is to feed them a high-quality complete ferret food.

Can Ferrets Eat Cat Food?

The short answer is no, it is not recommended that ferrets eat cat food. According to the American Ferret Association (AFA), cat food does not contain the necessary vitamins, minerals, and proteins that ferrets need to stay healthy. Most cat food is designed to meet the nutritional needs of cats, but not ferrets. 

Cats are carnivores, whereas ferrets are obligate carnivores. This means that ferrets require a diet that is higher in proteins and fats than what is found in cat food. Furthermore, ferrets require taurine, which is an essential amino acid for cats, but not for ferrets. In addition, there are other key differences between the nutritional needs of cats and ferrets. Ferrets require more vitamin B12 and vitamin A than cats. Vitamin B12 is especially important for ferrets, as it helps to maintain their energy levels and overall health. Additionally, ferrets require more dietary fat than cats do. This is because ferrets use dietary fat as an energy source. Finally, ferrets also require more fiber than cats do. This is because fiber helps to keep their digestive systems functioning properly. Cat food does not provide enough fiber for a ferret’s needs.

Well as previously explained that cat food is not recommended to ferrets in regular basis, but in some situations where you have no choice but to feed your ferrets cat food, here are few things you need to be aware of:

What is the Best Cat Food for Ferrets?

The best cat food for ferrets is one that is high in protein, low in fat, and free of grains. Ferrets require a diet that is high in animal proteins, so look for a food that comes from animal sources such as chicken, fish, or rabbit. Avoid foods that contain grains, such as corn or wheat, as these can be difficult for ferrets to digest. Additionally, ferrets need a diet that is higher in fat than other domesticated animals, so look for a food that contains at least 20-30% fat. 

When it comes to wet or dry, the best option is wet food, as it is high in moisture which helps keep your pet hydrated. Look for wet foods that are low in carbohydrates and free of artificial colors and flavors, as these can be difficult for ferrets to digest. Additionally, wet foods that are high in protein will help keep your ferret’s muscles and organs healthy. When selecting a dry food, look for one that has a high protein content, as this will keep your pet full and energized. Additionally, look for a food that contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids, as these will help keep your ferret healthy.

Can You Give Ferrets Wet Cat Food?

Yes, you can give ferrets wet cat food. Ferrets have a digestive system similar to cats, so cat food can provide ferrets with the necessary nutrition for a healthy and active life. However, it is important to remember that not all cat food is the same. Wet cat food has a higher moisture content than dry cat food, so it is important to make sure that the wet cat food you are giving your ferret has a high quality protein source, such as chicken or turkey. Additionally, wet cat food should not contain any grains or other fillers, as ferrets cannot digest these ingredients. 

When selecting wet cat food for your ferret, it is important to look for a grain-free, high-protein formula. Ferrets need a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, so a wet cat food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates is ideal. Additionally, many wet cat food formulas are fortified with vitamins and minerals to ensure your ferret is getting the essential nutrients it needs.

Can You Feed Ferrets Cat Treats?

According to J Nutr Sci, given the fact that cats and ferrets and are all carnivores does not mean that they have similar nutrition requirements. If the idea of cat treats for your ferrets ever crosses your mind, you must undertake that with so much caution. While it is not bad to feed them cat treats, you should do that often. There are low-quality cat treats with exceedingly low fat and protein amounts. Apart from that, the treats have corn and rice, which your ferret should not have.

First, check the ingredients if you must feed your ferret some cat treats. There must be adequate proteins and fat with very low fiber. There are some healthier treats you can give to your ferrets aside from cat treats. These include eggs, meat, raw vegetables, or fruits. You can also settle for semi-moist meat or liver snacks. As you check not to overfeed ferrets with treats, ensure that all prepackaged treats have low carbohydrate composition also.

What Happens When You Feed Your Ferrets Excess Cat Food?

Feeding your ferrets excess cat food can be dangerous and can even lead to death. Ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning they get their nutrition solely from eating meat. Cat food is not nutritionally balanced for ferrets, and they need a diet that is high in animal proteins and low in carbohydrates. When fed cat food on a regular basis, ferrets can develop nutritional deficiencies and diseases like anemia, heart disease, and diabetes.

In addition, cat food usually contains too much fat for ferrets and this can lead to obesity and other health problems. Furthermore, ferrets cannot digest plant proteins, like those found in some cat foods, and this can cause digestive issues and lead to nutritional deficiencies. Excess cat food can also contain unhealthy amounts of vitamins and minerals which can be toxic to ferrets. Overall, feeding your ferret excessive amounts of cat food can be very dangerous and can lead to serious health issues. 

It is important to feed your ferret a nutritionally balanced diet with high levels of animal proteins and low levels of carbohydrates. It is best to feed your ferret a commercial ferret diet, as this is specially formulated to provide the nutrition that ferrets need.

Ferrets Could Be Fussy

Something important to note is that ferrets, just like cats, are fussy sometimes. It is known that young ferrets imprint whichever food they consume. Therefore, if you have been feeding your ferrets one type of food for their entire life, you will face it rough trying to convince them to accept any alternative. Therefore, it is always wise to feed your ferret with a range of textures and flavors from time to time. Doing so makes it easier for your ferrets to accept any changes in the future. If your ferret is fussy, slowly try mixing small amounts of their new food with their favorite. Do that until you completely transition to their new food. That could take around two weeks. If you decide to feed your ferret some pellets, select the pellet shape carefully. Anything with sharp corners could injure their mouth. Therefore, choosing small chunks with smooth oval shapes is good.


So, can ferrets eat cat food? The answer is yes. If you have carefully checked through the ingredients list and ensured every nutritional need is met, cat food will be absolutely fine. From an anatomic point of view, a ferret’s digestive system differs from your cat’s. It, therefore, means that even the foods we need to feed these pets are different. While there is no problem feeding your ferret the right cat food, it is not recommendable to do so permanently. We all agree that this could work out cheaper, but at the end of the day, you compromise your ferret’s health. This is because you are not providing a diet tailored to your ferret’s needs. If you can access real ferret foods, this will be the best decision you will ever make for your pet. If you have to feed your ferrets cat food, make sure to avoid grains or high-carb foods or treats for your ferret. The reward for that is a ferret with a long and healthy life.