Can a Sugar Glider Eat Cat Food?

Sugar gliders are exotic marsupial pets originally from Australia and Indonesia. These little guys eat all sorts of things like bugs, fruit, plants, and just a bit of meat.

That’s what keeps them healthy and happy! As captive pets, their dietary needs are important to support their health.

Some sugar glider owners may wonder if commercial cat food can be substituted as a staple diet for these small animals since it is readily available.

However, cat food is not an appropriate primary diet for sugar gliders.

Can sugar gliders eat cat food?

Short Answer

Cat food is not recommended for sugar gliders.

Cat food is formulated for cats and does not contain the nutrients, and balance sugar gliders need.

It is important to feed sugar gliders a diet specifically formulated for their needs, which should consist mainly of insects, nectar, and sap.

Sugar gliders have very specific nutritional requirements that differ from a cat’s needs in protein content, fat ratios, carbohydrate levels, vitamins, and minerals.

They also need fresh vegetables and complete proteins from whole prey items not found in cat kibble.

While tiny amounts of cat food are unlikely to harm them, it does not provide complete nutrition without supplements. There are better diet options for pet sugar gliders.

Can a Sugar Glider Eat Cat Food?

Nutritional Content of cat food

Cat and sugar glider diets have very different nutritional profiles. Here is a comparison of the macronutrients:

  • Protein – Cat foods contain 25-45% protein compared to insectivore/omnivore mixes with 45-55% protein sugar gliders require. Excess protein stresses sugar glider kidneys.
  • Fat – Cats use more fat for energy while sugar gliders need lower fat around 3-5% of total calories. Most cat foods are too high in fat for gliders at 10-25%.
  • Carbs – Sugar gliders need more carbohydrates for energy, 25-40% from fruits/veggies. Cat foods have only 5-10% carbs.

Micronutrients also differ:

  • Vitamin C – Gliders need 10 times more Vitamin C than cats produce their own. Cat foods are too low in this key vitamin.
  • Calcium – Correct 2:1 Calcium-phosphorus ratios are very important for gliders but not for cats. Most cat foods have improper ratios.

Cats are obligate carnivores adapted to high protein and fat. Sugar gliders are omnivores requiring more balanced macronutrient ratios, fruits, vegetables, and insects. Overall the nutritional content of cat foods is inappropriate.

Health Benefits of Feeding Cat Food to Sugar Gliders

Feeding cat food long-term poses many health risks for sugar gliders:

  • Obesity – Higher fat and calories contribute to obesity and shortened lifespan.
  • Kidney disease – Excess protein stresses kidneys leading to failure over time.
  • Diabetes – Increased risk of diabetes from high carbohydrate foods and sugars added to cat foods.
  • Dental disease – Kibble is too hard on sugar glider teeth causing fractures and abscesses.
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Lack of fruits, vegetables, and complete protein sources leads to deficiencies.
  • Constipation – Lack of dietary fiber in cat kibble contributes to constipation issues.

Gliders fed cat food long-term often suffer from obesity, dental disease, and kidney failure. A cat food diet goes strongly against their natural nutritional needs.\

Risks of feeding Cat Food to Sugar Gliders

There are very few health benefits to feeding cat food. Small amounts will not immediately harm them, and it provides:

  • Convenient protein/fat source
  • Taurine for heart health
  • Vitamin supplements added

However, there are more appropriate ways to provide these limited benefits without the many risks.

Serving Size of feeding Cat Food to Sugar Gliders

If feeding any cat food, the serving size should be an extremely small amount of 5-10 kibble pieces at maximum, not to exceed 1 teaspoon. This should only be occasional, not a daily portion. Cat foods are very concentrated and energy-dense compared to a glider’s needs. More than a tiny amount will lead to obesity and illness.

Can a Sugar Glider Eat Cat Food?

Feeding Frequency of Cat Food to Sugar Gliders

Cat food should never be a staple diet. At most, a few kibble pieces can be fed only 1-2 times per week if needed to supplement nutrition but never as the complete diet. Stick to specialty glider food, fruits, veggies, and insects as the dietary foundation.

Other Alternatives to cat food

Instead of cat food, better options for captive sugar glider diets include:

  • High-quality sugar glider pellet diets
  • Custom omnivore nutritional mixes
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole animal protein like cooked chicken, insects
  • Supplements like pollen, nectar

Good options provide nutrition from wholesome sources that mimic their wild diet closely. Stick to sugar-glider specialty diets and avoid cat food.


Why can’t I feed only cat food?

Cat food is too high in fat/protein and too low in carbs/fiber for sugar gliders. It lacks key nutrients and causes illness long-term.

Is it OK to mix cat food with glider food?

It’s best not to mix. Even small amounts of cat food with glider food can lead to selective feeding and obesity over time.

Can I soak cat kibble in milk for gliders?

No, gliders are lactose intolerant and milk causes digestive upset. Soaking kibble can also lead to bacterial overgrowth.

Is dry or wet cat food better?

Neither dry nor wet cat food is appropriate as a total diet. At most, a few pieces of dry kibble can be an occasional treat in tiny amounts.

Can I feed cat food if I add fruits and veggies?

No, adding produce doesn’t outweigh the risks of high protein, fat, carbs, and lack of nutrients in cat foods.

Do gliders need cat food for protein?

No, gliders get protein from properly formulated diets, insects, and small amounts of cooked chicken or turkey.

Can baby gliders have cat food?

No. Babies should only have their mother’s milk. Even adult gliders should not eat cat food.

Will cat food hurt gliders?

In large amounts long-term, cat food can cause illness and shorten lifespan. Small amounts occasionally are not immediately harmful.

Are there cat foods made for gliders?

No, there are no cat foods formulated for gliders. But there are specialty glider diets made just for their nutritional needs.

Can I give cat treats instead of cat food?

No, cat treats have similar nutrition issues and are too high in fat, protein, and calories for gliders.

Key Takeaways

  • Cat food is inappropriate as a staple diet for sugar gliders
  • It is too high in fat, and protein and too low in carbs
  • Health risks include obesity, dental disease, kidney failure
  • At most a few kibble pieces 1-2 times per week
  • Better alternatives are glider pellets, fruits, veggies, real protein sources

Conclusion about eating cat food

In summary, cat food is not a healthy diet choice for captive sugar gliders. Feeding them that way isn’t good for their health.

It can lead to problems like getting too chubby, kidney issues, and not getting all the right nutrients they need.

Small amounts of cat kibble may be fed occasionally as a supplement if needed but never as the complete diet.

Sugar gliders thrive best on specialized glider diets, fresh fruits/vegetables, whole prey insects, and other natural food sources.

Following their natural omnivorous instincts with proper nutrition supports health and longevity.

For pet sugar glider care, avoid cat food as the primary diet and instead choose food designed specifically for their dietary needs.