Eating Cat Poo

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OmegaWolf's picture
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Joined: 2009-04-11

Several times while outdoors I've caught Ike digging up cat poo and eating it.  If I get to him in time I try to issue a "No" and make him spit it out.  The ones I've caught him with thusfar were well-enough decayed that they were more like compost than dung, but still.

Also, I've had to take away dead mice (also from the cats; we live in an open rural area where field mice are a problem).

My question is, other than keeping him locked up is there any way to avoid this?  It can't be good for him.  OTOH I like having him outdoors with me.  Is there any way to keep this from becoming a habit?

Also, I found it interesting that, on the GentleDoberman home articles, the site owner states that eating cat poo is bad manners, whereas eating cat food can be deadly due to the risk of pancreatitis.  This is fortunately not a problem as their food is out of his reach, but I'm surprised that eating feces is not likewise considered a serious threat.

rgreen4's picture
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Joined: 2008-10-26

Unfortunately, dogs are scavengers. As such they will seek out and eat anything that has the odor that they like. It is a common problem to have dogs eat cat poo. I once had a large black labrador (30+ years ago) that would go over the fence on occasion (only 4') if I did not watch him closely. One evening I had some friends over and we were working in the garage, and Brutus comes prancing in with his greatest prize, he had found a bone that some other dog had buried some time before. There was a little meat still on it so the stench was something else. Needless to say, he broke up the group and all my friends suddenly had things they had to do at home. He was most disappointed when I would not let him take it into the house. I laid it down by the door and we went in the house. While he was occupied getting a drink I judiciously dropped it in the garbage. He had really bad breath for a few days.

Cats on the other hand are hunters and prefer their meat live and fresh. Dogs will chase down and kill a luckless animal, but mostly they take the leftovers.

I do not know if it will harm them, but it is certainly bad manners and something to be discouraged by all means. If there is a spot where a feral cat like to go, you need to avoid that spot. As you pointed out, it does carry diseases which is one reason when cleaning up after our puppies during their younger training it is best to wear rubber gloves and still wash our hands.

OmegaWolf's picture
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Thanks rgreen.  Their immune systems will probably adapt to it eventually.  On the way to work this morning, I saw a coyote alongside a wooded area along the freeway tracking prey.  They are thriving, and they eat some pretty disgusting stuff!  Still, you worry about a dog when you have investment in time, money, and emotion.

Thanks again.

rgreen4's picture
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They do eat some disgusting stuff and not only survive, but thrive. In fact a drop of their stomach acid has been shown to eat holes in the human stomach. Turned meat that would put you or me in the hospital at the very least, is good fare for them. I do not however, feed them out of date meat, much to their disappointment. This is also why my trash can is in the pantry closet, behind the latched door. My mind says it's ok, my heart says to not take a chance. Good quality dry kibble is safe and far cheaper than vet bills. I have had Princess now for 3 1/2 months and her total food bill is still less the the one trip to the vet when she had diarrhea. And I do not want to emotionally go through that again.

OmegaWolf's picture
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That's all true.  Your Princess is a beautiful puppy, and Red sounds kind of like an old friend the way you've described him.

OmegaWolf's picture
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Actually, thinking about this a little more:  Recently I was doing research on vultures (okay, I have many interests, incl. raptors).  Vulture excretion is actually an antiseptic.  They deliberately excrete on their own legs and feet after being in a carcass to CLEANSE them.  How can this be?  These birds consume putrid rotting flesh, crawling with maggots!  The blood, dried by the hot Arizona sun, has virtually cemented the rancid, maggot covered carcass to the road.  (Like the imagery?)

So how can a vulture's excretion be among the least offensive?  The answer lies in what you alluded to earlier: the acids and enzymes in their stomachs are incredibly well adapted to kill off all the bad stuff - even anthrax!   To a lesser degree, the stomach of a coyote, dog, or cat would also has some antiseptic properties.  This would provide a rational reason for why eating cat poo would be less harmful than cat food.

rgreen4's picture
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I started to post that a dog's saliva has an antiseptic quality, but then stopped. I wondered if this was an old wives tale or fact, so I googled it and came up with this:

http://www.dogguide.net/blog/2008/02/licking-wounds/

Of course a badly contaminated wound would not be cleaned by their licking, but small ones are. It's strange how unknowing people think that a dog's mouth and saliva is bad when it's the other way around. It is a medical fact, that of all the animals on the planet, the one with the dirtiest mouth of all - humans. (And I'm not referring to use of words) How many times have we seen someone come running to a kid playing with a dog and picking them up and telling them that dogs are dirty.

Nature has provided animals without access to soap and water and opposed thumbs and flexible fingers various ways to clean themselves. Cats are the cleanest, constantly cleaning their fur, and even licking their paws to get them wet so they can wash their faces. Polar Bears with their nice white fur, look gastly after eating with a muzzle area dark red with blood from their kill. Yet shortly afterward, they are once again clean with an unstained white muzzle. How? They rub their faces in the snow to remove the stains. I have never seen it documented, but I wonder if the Black and Brown Bears do likewise.

OmegaWolf's picture
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There's really no way to stop him from eating dead stuff - I'd have to quit my job and spend full-time babysitting.  At this point, not too worried about it, dogs will be dogs.