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Do Squirrels Eat Cat Food?

You have probably already observed that squirrels are keen eaters of almost everything that they can find, and they are always to be found raiding bird feeders and any fruit trees that you have in the garden. If you are dealing with a squirrel problem or looking to feed them, you may be wondering “do squirrels eat cat food?” and how much they like it if so. It’s always a good idea to try and understand the animals that you see in your garden, and recognize what is and isn’t good to feed them.

Many people put out leftover cat food for the carnivorous birds that are found in the garden, and if you have ever seen squirrels stealing this, you might be concerned. Many of us think of squirrels as nut-feeders, but in fact, they are opportunists that will eat almost anything they find in the garden, whether it’s composed of meat or vegetables.

Pretty much any food that you place on your bird table will get sampled by the squirrels at times if they come into your garden, and there isn’t much that you can do about this. If you are looking to feed the squirrels, you can probably choose more suitable options than cat food, but be aware that they will eat this if you put it out. Squirrels are not fussy!

Do Squirrels Eat Cat Food?

Squirrels do eat cat food, yes, and they will happily take this from your bird table if it is available, and indeed, most squirrels love cat food. They are particularly fond of dry kibble, as their sharp teeth are more than capable of dealing with this, and will cut through the kibble with ease. Squirrels will also eat wet cat food if this is the only option, although they do prefer dry cat food, and will almost always choose dry if they are given the choice.

If you are trying to find foods to give to a squirrel you have rescued, it will eat cat food, but this isn’t an ideal food for it and should only be used as a temporary measure. If you are feeding the squirrels in your garden, it’s fine to put a bit of cat food out now and again, and you will probably find that it is a popular food that they eat with great eagerness.

You may find the occasional squirrel that does not eat cat food, but this is pretty unusual overall, and most squirrels will grab cat food over other options. However, it is not part of a natural diet for them, so be careful about feeding it in large quantities.

Are There Nutritional Benefits Of Cat Food Kibble For Squirrels?

Cat food does offer some nutritional benefits, but you should note that it contains cellulose, and squirrels cannot properly digest cellulose, which can cause problems for them, especially if they eat a lot of cat food. Bear in mind, too, that although squirrels are omnivores, they get the majority of their diet from nuts and vegetation, and cat food is predominantly made up of meat. 

Cat food does contain nutrients that a squirrel will benefit from, and depending on the kind of food that you give to your cat, squirrels may benefit from fat, vitamins, and protein. However, cat food isn’t a balanced diet to offer to a squirrel, and if you are trying to look after one and keep it healthy, you should not depend upon cat food for this, especially if the squirrel is young.

It’s important to keep the nutritional needs of squirrels in mind, particularly during the winter, when squirrels may be struggling to find enough suitable food and are more likely to turn to unsuitable alternatives just to survive. Although cat food will help a very hungry squirrel to stay alive, it won’t provide a balanced diet in the long term, and squirrels are much better off eating nuts and fruit. Make sure you offer these too if you are going to feed squirrels.

Should You Feed Wild Squirrels Cat Food Kibble?

Because squirrels seem to love cat food so much, you may be tempted to feed wild squirrels cat food, particularly dry cat kibble; this might seem a simple and reasonably cheap option for keeping these fluffy creatures fed. However, cat kibble is not good for squirrels and on the whole, it is much better to choose other foods for them if you can. You can choose from a whole range of other options, since squirrels are not fussy feeders and will eat almost anything that is edible, including most seed and nut mixes.

You should offer the squirrels the same kinds of foods that you would give to birds, and try things like peanuts, alongside a specific squirrel feed if you want to really keep them healthy. This will provide all the nutrients that a squirrel needs, especially if it is also foraging for itself at the same time.

You may sometimes see squirrels raiding cat bowls or occasionally even chasing cats out of their food if you have particularly bold squirrels near you. This is nothing to worry about, as small quantities of cat food are very unlikely to hurt the squirrels, so it’s fine to let them eat some. However, feeding them a proper and suitable food is a much better idea if you want to keep them healthy.

Conclusion

So, the quick answer to “do squirrels eat cat food?” is that they certainly do eat cat food, and they are particularly fond of dry cat food, since their sharp teeth can break into this easily and it tends to be richer in carbohydrates. However, cat food is not a particularly balanced food to offer to squirrels, and it’s better not to give it to them if you can avoid doing so, because it contains cellulose that they don’t have the ability to digest. It is better to give squirrels suitable seed mixes or purchase a food that has been tailored for these rodents and is designed to meet their needs.