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Ferret Prefers Cat Food

Is it OK to feed ferrets cat food?

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: April 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT

Q: I just got a ferret, but she won’t eat her food. She eats my cat’s food. Is that good for her?

A: Cat food is not good for ferrets. Your ferret should be eating a high-quality ferret food. Make sure your cat's food is somewhere the ferret can't reach it. We place our cats’ food on a bookshelf because they can jump to reach it and the dogs and ferrets can’t.

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Reader Comments
I'm been owned by ferrets scents 1995 I feed ferret/kitten foods. . this day and age I feed 6 ferrets and 1 cat i feed 4 driffrnt grain free cat/kitten foods #2 Evo cat/kitten #5 Oijen cat/kitten #4 Canidae pure Elements cat/kitten #2 Wysong Epigen 90 (a mixer only) feline/canine
Robin, williams, AZ
Posted: 3/25/2014 9:17:43 PM
Ferrets imprint on their food. If they haven't had it by about six months, they will be harder to move to it. If the cat food isn't as high-quality as it should be, try blending in a better quality cat food or the ferret food you want her to eat. Start with 3 parts her food and 1 part the new food. After a week or so, go to 2 parts of each. Wait another week and change to 1 part the old food and 3 parts the new food. Finally, move completely to the new food. Watch for selective eating: choosing the old food out of the bowl and leaving the new food behind. That's a sign she's not ready to move to the next stage of the change-over.

All that said, all my ferrets are three or older. They used to *run* to the kitty bowls as soon as I opened their well-stocked cage. I've kept a very high-quality cat food (no corn, no fish meal, 30% protein) in the bowls for this reason. Recently, we stopped serving the ferret food at all. We continue to give them all the FerreTone they want and we watch for weight changes.
Anne, Mesa, AZ
Posted: 4/13/2010 1:22:43 PM
When ferret food did not exist (25+ years ago), my ferrets had a diet of high quality cat or kitten food plus supplements per the vet's recommendations. It's not a good thing now but if your ferret is imprinted to a food (cat or dog) you'll have to provide. The ferret should not live on cat/dog food alone so offer ferret food; treats and supplements too. My ferrets have a diet of 4 kinds of ferret food (for fear of a brand not available or running out) and because ferrets can be very picky. They will even reject freshly open food for a few days if it tastes or smells slightly different. Hopefully when in the mood, the ferret will eventually try. When introducing new food to my ferrets, I first offer as treats. They are more than delighted when they receive a full bowl.
Gretchen Moss, Beaufort, SC
Posted: 4/13/2010 11:58:31 AM
All cat food is not created equally. A broad statement that cat food is bad for ferrets is not accurate. My cats and ferrets both eat Innova Evo for Cats and Kittens, mixed with another high quality cat food. Why feed your ferrets high quality food and not your cats? The thing to keep in mind is that you want quality food with a high protein, high fat content, low carbs (grains and vegs). By feeding both my ferrets and my cats "high quality" food, they both benefit, I only need one storage tub and it doesn't matter if they eat each others food - because it's all the same.
Tina, Franklin, IN
Posted: 4/13/2010 11:50:11 AM
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