There is an impression that cats are nothing more than small dogs when it comes to the public consideration for nutritional requirements, behaviour and medication.
Although cats and dogs are both carnivores, cats are at the highest evolutionary level from a predatory carnivorous diet’s point of view whereas dogs are more versatile as predators and scavengers and more adaptable to an omnivorous diet.
Toy breed pet dogs survive very well on cat food under certain circumstances recommended by veterinarians. However, if cats eat dog food they will suffer serious health problems due to the deficiency of essential nutrients required in the diet of cats.
There are cat owners who vary from vegetarian to vegan in their own diets and have taken it upon themselves to feed their pets what they eat. Not only is this intentional, arrogant transfer of human choices forced on dependent animals but it is also elucidates the height of a person’s ignorance, bordering on cruelty – some of these vegetarian-fed cats have become irreversibly blind through amino acid and mineral deficiencies. Some of these cats develop serious heart muscle defects which become life-threatening. Once a cat has been diagnosed by a veterinarian to have complications from an imbalanced diet the culpable cat owner usually holds on to these blind pets in heart failure until they succumb to their maladies – purely out of guilt. Although these affected cats have no quality of life people feel the need to compensate by over-caring for them when it is beyond repair. Cats are not physiologically designed to be vegan. Cats do not choose to eat soya, egg, fruit and vegetables. This is an awful form of animal abuse.
The metabolic nature of cats is typical of a true carnivore therefore the essential needs are a priority when pet food companies research, develop and formulate feline nutrition. Taking this in to account cats require almost double the amount of protein as dogs do – very few canine diets can come close to meeting these requirements.
Cats are unique in that they cannot synthesise the amino acid, taurine, at the metabolic level. Taurine is essential for maintaining normal vision. Dog food is nutritionally deficient in this aspect and thus a long-term health threat for the feline species.
Cats further require essential and specific fatty acids in their diet which dog foods also fall short of. Cats cannot convert, formulate and utilize Vitamin A from beta-carotene in plant substances so they not only require dietary supplementation but they have to have twice the amount dogs require to survive.
Feline nutritional products are manufactured with liver and other animal tissues rich in Niacin because cats are unable to produce this vitamin in the body and canine food does not necessarily include this vital ingredient.
Just the water requirements of the two species differ markedly. The higher fat content of feline diets assist in offering the additional metabolic water required for the efficient dilution of urine in cats.
When veterinary medication is considered for cats there are major differences and idiosyncratic responses. While dogs may take thirty six hours to metabolise a single dose of aspirin – cats can take five days. Therefore aspirin is far more toxic to the feline species due to its longer elimination time. Although aspirin has its useful applications in the cat, the idiosyncratic response needs to be known.
Antihistamines, on their own, do not work as a rule in dogs but in cats it can be highly dangerous with severe symptoms.
The antibiotic, streptomycin, can cause symptoms of imbalance in cats, whereas effective in dogs up to four times a day.
Valium, at low doses may have a sedative effect in dogs but in cats it renders them ravenously hungry. It is sometimes used to stimulate appetite in ill cats.
Certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis in dogs may be used in cats but at an altered dosage rate – at the normal dose for dogs pro rata the cat’s weight may be fatal.
The application of an ophthalmic eye ointment containing an antibiotic, bacitracin, is known to cause anaphylactic reactions in a cat yet very safe in dogs.
The use of dog spot-on preparations against external parasites is highly toxic to cats especially if placed on the body where the cat has the opportunity to lick it off.
A certain antibiotic, enrofloxacin, used in high doses over a lengthy period in cats has been known to stunt growth and cause blindness.
Cats have shown adverse gastrointestinal and neurological reactions to deworming preparations of dogs even if dosed pro rata to the cat’s body weight.
Some cats in the USA and UK have developed malignant cancer at the injection site of a variety of certain drugs and multiple vaccines. This is rare in South Africa because most veterinarians inject different drugs in different places on the cat’s body.
Although dogs and cats are physiologically very similar in many aspects and dosing regimens recommended for dogs can be extrapolated to cats there are some important differences in the disposition of certain drugs between the two species that can have a profound influence on the use and recommendation of medicines for cats. Most of the variances relate to the metabolism of the particular chemical in the cat. Cats have a smaller blood volume per kilogram body weight which will influence drug concentrations. The grooming behaviour of cats increases the likelihood that topical preparations may be ingested.
The variance in certain receptors in the body has a lot to do with cats being what they are regarding pharmaceuticals.
Cats tend to be deficient in certain metabolic enzymes which are important for product breakdown and utilization. Cats metabolize the powerful analgesic, morphine and the antibiotic, chloramphenicol, very slowly.
Other drugs not recommended for cats are paracetamol, apomorphine, azathiprine, benzocaine, cisplatin, proplythiouracil, phenytoin, scopolamine, sodium phosphate enemas, permethrin.
Drugs that are therapeutically useful in cats which may have different activity profiles than dogs are digoxin, doxorubicin, furosemide, griseofulvin, ketoconazole, lidocaine, megoestrol acetate, methimazole, tetracyclines, thiacetarsamide
In the veterinary pharmaceutical industry any research and development of medicines for cats has to be specifically tested on the feline species and the medications specifically labeled in this regard.
All these aspects of unique feline drug reactions are known to veterinarians and for this reason it is incumbent upon cat owners to only allow veterinarians to treat their pets.
There are further fundamental differences between cats and dogs.
Cats are capable of supinating their front paws which is the physical act of turning the forelimb over by almost one-hundred-and-eighty degrees. In addition to this cats can extend and retract their claws. Dogs are incapable of these actions.
Cats have a much better sense of hearing and smell than dogs although their vision over distance is much poorer than dogs they have a much more efficient vision detection for movement.
Cats are able to fall great heights and right themselves sufficiently to land on all four feet. They are far more agile, jumping effortlessly and with far better control over the tail posturing.
The tomcat has his penis and testicles over the perineum area just below the tail while the dog has his genitals well-presented in the under parts of the pelvis and abdomen. For this reason cats can mark their territory by backing up against a vertical object, raising and flicking the tail before urinating at right angles to the wall or tree.
Cats are far more clandestine regarding outdoor toilet behaviour and it is very difficult to find where the cats urinate and defaecate in the garden area, if they even use their own property.
Cats have a most painful mating process creating the notorious caterwauling sounds at night and it is only through the pain of it all that the queen is able to ovulate. Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying that cats have the most painful sexual act of all animal species yet there are so many cats! Cats are such prolific breeders that some queens are known to come in to “heat” while pregnant or feeding a litter. This is one of the reasons why the cat population is uncontrollable world-wide.
Cats are far more fastidious eaters and are thus less likely to be poisoned maliciously.
Cats suffer far less from behaviour disorders than dogs do, are far more independent and are not reliant on a linear hierarchy system as dogs have.
Cats are more nocturnal in nature than dogs and have a more inherent hunting instinct across the spectrum of cat breeds. Not all dogs have the instinct for predation.
Cats are more stereotypic anatomically and do not vary much in size amongst the various domestic feline breeds. Dogs vary dramatically in shape and size with far more available breeds.
Dogs look up to us, cats look down upon us and pigs regard us as equals!