For those of you, who are in a hurry: Here is our top pick, the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Cat Food.
Hedgehogs have very high demands on their diet. As insectivores or carnivores, they need a fair amount of protein. Apart from that fiber is often a critical factor. As it is hard to find good quality hedgehog food, many owners (and hedgies) prefer dry cat food.
As many sites just pick random cat foods, we decided it is time to really search for the best cat food for hedgehogs. We reviewed a ton of products and spent hours on research to make the decision a bit easier for you. So here is what we found out!
In this article we are going to review the following 5 cat foods for hedgehogs:
- Our Top Pick: Nutro Wholesome Essentials Indoor and Sensitive Digestion Dry Cat Food
- Earthborn Holistic Primitive Feline Natural Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
- Purina Beyond Grain-Free, Natural, Adult Dry Cat Food
- Diamond Naturals – Indoor Cat Chicken & Rice Formula
- IAMS Proactive Health Adult Dry Cat Food Chicken & Salmon Recipes
Does Cat Food Meet The Needs of Hedgehogs?
To give the answer right away: Yes, cat food can be a very good option for hedgehog, which often is even better than special hedgehog foods.
Hedgehogs are more often classified as insectivores than omnivores. Nonetheless, they eat not only insects. Meat, eggs, vegetables and fruits round up their meals and are an important part of their natural food.
The researcher Wendy Graffam evaluated different nutritional compounds in the food of hedgehogs. As a result food with the nutritional values of dry cat food worked very well. One component that turned out to be a key point for a healthy hog was fiber. Because of this reason we recommend having an eye on this component when choosing the cat food for your hedgehog.
Why Many Owners Prefer Cat Food
There are mainly 2 reasons why most hedgehog owners prefer cat food over special food for their prickly friends:
- Often the quality is much better. First that sounds surprising, but when you dive into the topic it turns out that hedgehog food can contain ingredients, that are not good for your pet. Raisins are a typical example. Apart from that, the nutritional values from cat food are nearly perfect if you choose the right one.
- Another important factor is accessibility. You can buy cat food in every local pet shop. As opposed to this, the demand for hedgehog food is quite low and it just is not worth the effort to sell it for shop owners.
- Last but not least, many breeders use cat food to raise their baby hedgehogs. People who buy a new hedgie tend to stay at the food choice the breeder made. They can be sure that the pet likes it and breeders know very well what the pets need.
What To Consider When Feeding Cat Food To Your Hedgehog (Buying Guide)
In the paragraphs above we discussed what makes cat food a good choice. Now we want to have a look at the characteristics you should have a look at. There can be huge differences in the quality of the products. With this buying guide, you know for sure if the product you plan to buy is a good choice or not.
Not surprisingly this is the most important factor to look at. We know you want to give your pet only the best. When it comes to the ingredients good cat foods should not contain these:
- Meat by-products
- Cheap fillers (like grain)
- Low-quality oils (like canola)
- Genetically manipulated organisms
- Artificial preservatives
- Colors and flavors
A good sign is always if the first 2 ingredients are specified meats. Chicken, turkey, pollock are good sources. Fish can also be a good ingredient but generally hedgehogs can go without it.
The nutritional value of cat food in general meets the needs of hedgehogs very well. But as always there are some varieties between different brands and products. What is best for your hedgie depends on his age and health to a certain factor. We will come to these aspects later in this article.
As a rule of thumb you won’t go wrong if you opt for a food that comes with these values:
- A protein level between 30 and 35 %
- Fat between 10 and 15 % (go closer to 10 if your hedgie tends to be obese)
- Fiber should be at least 5 %. Higher is always better in this context, but the optimum of 15 % you can only reach by serving treats like insects as well. The exoskeletons of insects and cell walls of some vegetables and fruits contain chitin. Chitin is a very important fiber and protects hedgehogs from digestive issues.
Wet Or Dry Cat Food?
Most hedgehog owners that want to try cat food for the first time, ask if it matters if the food is dry or wet. The density of calories is generally much higher in wet food. Often it leads to fat hedgehogs when the diet relies solely on wet cat food. But you can always give it as a tread when your hedgehog likes it very much.
The kibbles of dry cat food have the advantage that they clean and sharpen the teeth of your hedgehog.
Age And Health Of Your Hedgehog
Most veterinarians distinguish between Hedgehogs that are younger or older than 6 months. Young or baby hedgies need more calories to support growth. But it is very likely that your hedgehog is about 6 months old when you buy him. So this factor should not worry you too much.
When your hedgehog gets older, it can be helpful to serve food with a lower protein level to protect his kidneys.
It should be clear that pets with underweight need some extra calories. On the other hand, obese hedgies will be thankful if their food contains less energy.
In our reviews, we write all nutritional values direct to the products. You will get a good overview of an easy decision.
Hedgehogs eat a lot less than cats. To ensure that the food of your prickly pal is always fresh you should go with small packages. Your hedgehog will eat between 1 and 4 teaspoons every day, what really is not much. Also, we recommend to mix up to 3 different foods for enrichment.
It is more likely to get very good quality when you opt for a brand. Brands have always a reputation to lose and usually, they will give their best to satisfy your and your hedgies needs. Often not only the ingredients are from better quality but the brand will also have some ethical standards. We love animals and so we should care about those who will be processed to the products too.
Best Cat Food For Hedgehogs Reviews
- Protein: 33 % min
- Fat: 14 % min
- Fiber: 7 % max
- Energy: 429 kcal/cup
The Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Cat Food is one of our favorite cat foods for hedgehogs. It comes with quite high fiber levels and contains only quality ingredients.
There are no GMO products, by-products or artificial preservatives, flavors and colors in this food. You also won’t find any corn, soy or wheat protein. Chicken meat is the first ingredient and all ingredients come from trusted sources.
- No GMO products
- No by-products
- No artificials
- Chicken is first ingredient
- High fiber level
- Relatively high in calories
- Protein: 40 % min
- Fat: 18 % min
- Fiber: 3 % max
- Energy: 395 kcal/cup
To be honest, we could not find any cat food with better quality ingredients than the Earthborn Holistic Feline. It is completely grain, gluten and potato free. That means all proteins come from meat and fish sources.
We also like the ethical standards of the company very much. The packaging is 100 % recyclable and they support Treas for the Future and planted more than 725000 trees.
- Potato free
- High quality ingredients
- Good amount of calories
- Relatively high protein level
- Relatively high fat level
- Protein: 35 %
- Fat: 14 %
- Fiber: 4 %
- Energy: 454 kcal/cup
Purina Beyond Grain Free might be a good choice if you have a young or very active hedgehog as it delivers many calories. All chicken and egg components make 25 % of all ingredients, so the plant sources make a relatively large part.
The meat is generally of very good quality. The chickens are raised without steroids and there are no by-products to find. Apart from that, you won’t find any corn, wheat, soy and artificial preservatives, colors and flavors.
All ingredients can be traced back to their original sources.
The kibbles themselves are fairly large, because of that it can be that you have to break them into smaller pieces.
- Real Meat, no by-products
- Contains probiotics for digestive health
- No corn, wheat, soy and artificial products
- Ingredients can be traced back
- High plant content
- Many calories
- Relatively large kibbles
- Protein: 32 %
- Fat: 14 %
- Fiber: 8 %
- Energy: 313 kcal/cup
We really like that this product contains cage-free chicken. Apart from that important vitamins and minerals are added. Fruits and vegetables round up the profile of ingredients.
The proteins support the growth of lean and strong muscles. Apart from that, there are only a few calories compared to most other foods. This probably makes it a good choice for older hedgehogs as it is hard to gain fat with this product.
To be honest we could not find any cat food that contains more fiber than this one. This is a big key point for our recommendation.
As this is a branded quality product, there are no corn, wheat and other fillers to find. The same is for any artificial products.
- Cage-free chicken
- No fillers
- No artificial products
- Low in calories
- May be not enough calories for young and active hedgies
- Protein: 32 %
- Fat:15 %
- Fiber: 3 %
- Energy: 373 kcal/cup
The IAMS Proactive Health Adult Dry Cat Food is of very good quality and many pet owners like it very much. The crunchiness protects the teeth from plaque buildup and sharpens them. Also, the no. 1 ingredient is real chicken and it contains no artificial preservatives.
The energy level with 373 calories per cup is nearly perfect for most hedgehogs. But there are some things about this food we dislike as well. Even though the first ingredient is real meat, there are some by-products processed in it. Apart from that it is not gluten-free and although contains grain.
- Crunchy for healthy teeth
- Real chicken as first ingredient
- Good amount of calories
- Contains by-products
- Contains grain
The cat food we liked most for hedgehogs is the Nutro Wholesome Essentials. That is not only because of the high-quality ingredients. Compared to other cat foods the nutritional values suit best to the needs of our hedgehogs. Especially the high amount of fiber and an energy level under 400 kcal/cup has convinced us.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Dog Food Also Work?
Yes. Good quality dog food is very suitable for hedgehogs. But there is one problem: The size of the kibbles is much larger compared to cat food. It will be necessary to break or cut the kibbles in smaller pieces. That is the reason why most hedgehog owners prefer cat over dog food.
Is It Enough To Solely Serve Cat Food
No. As a rule of thumb, the relative amount of cat food should be 80 % of the whole diet. Even the best dry cat foods won’t contain enough fiber. But don’t worry, you can easily fill the gap with treats like insects, fruits and vegetables. Giving insects will also mimic the foraging in the wild and is very good for variety and enrichment.
How Much Cat Food Does My Hedgehog Need
That depends on the age, size and activeness of your hedgehog. Usually, 1 to 4 teaspoons are a good amount. If you are unsure, just start with 2 and weigh your hedgie regularly. You will develop a good understanding of his nutritional needs very soon.
What To Do If Your Hedgehog Refuse To Eat?
Actually, I wrote a whole article about this topic. Go read the article and take your pet to the vet if you are uncertain.
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