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Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Can Cats Eat Dog Food

Can cats eat dog food? Is it safe for cats to eat dog food? You may have been wondering if there is any risk in feeding your cat dog food. Perhaps you inadvertently offered your cat some human food or your cat stole a bite from the dog’s dish. A small amount of dog food won’t normally harm a cat, although long-term consumption of doggie cuisine can induce issues. Although the appearance is similar, there are significant distinctions between cat and canine diets.

Can cats eat dog food?

can cats eat dog food

The long answer, however, is that cats can eat dog food only in an emergency or for a short time. This is because cat and dog nutrition requirements are different. Because dogs are omnivores, they require a more varied diet to meet their nutritional needs than cats alone. Cats are meat-eaters; therefore, they consume exclusively meat. Dogs are omnivores who need a more varied diet than just meat to fulfill their nutritional needs.

Before we delve into the specifics of why your cat can’t eat dog food for good, it’s important to first define cat diet and the distinction between cat and canine nutritional needs.

Cats and dogs require different nutrients

cat and dog food

Because both dogs and cats share our hearts and houses, nature has shaped them into distinct creatures with varied nutritional requirements over time.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which implies that they must eat meat-based proteins and animal fats in order for all of their body organs to operate correctly.

Dogs are, in fact, omnivores. An omnivore has a wider diet and can consume both meat and plants with ease. Dogs need different nutrients from cats; therefore, a dog food diet does not fulfill their nutritional needs.

What should I feed my cat?

Cats, like other carnivores, require high-protein diets. They also need fats and taurine. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, cats should eat the following:

  • Meat or fish is a good source of protein.
  • Taurine and arginine, which are known amino acids.
  • Fatty acids
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

Protein makes up roughly 35 to 45 percent of a cat’s diet, according to some veterinarians.

What’s the Difference Between Cat and Dog Food?

Here are a few of the most essential distinctions between dog and cat food.

difference between cat food and dog food


Cats, as strict carnivores by nature, require food that has a greater protein content than dog food.

Only a few of the distinct brands and kinds of dog food have higher protein levels, but, on the whole, they do not even come close to meeting the high protein standards required to maintain cats healthy.

The protein amount in most dog foods is 18-26%. For cats, I usually suggest at least a 30-34% “As Fed” protein level, with the option of adding canned cat food with 40-50% protein.


Dogs and cats have different senses of taste. Unlike dogs, cats lack the ability to taste sweetness and even the number of taste receptors are varied between the two species.

Cats have just 470 taste buds, but dogs have over 1700. For comparison, humans have around 9000 taste buds.

Cat food is designed to be highly appealing in order to entice our picky (and taste-bud deprived) feline companions to eat, which explains why they’re so delicious.


When cats do not get enough taurine, they develop a heart disease that causes cardiac failure. Dilated cardiomyopathy is an illness in which the heart wall expands, making it unable to effectively pump blood. Absorption difficulties in the digestive tract and blindness can also be caused by taurine deficiency. All commercially prepared cat diets are verified for adequate taurine levels and supplemented if necessary.


Vitamin needs differ somewhat among our different pet species. Vitamin A is important for eyesight, muscular function, and coat quality in dogs. Cats require greater amounts than do dog foods; a cat fed dog food would be severely deficient. Because cats are unable to convert tryptophan into niacin or Vitamin B3, they must consume high amounts of niacin. As a result, plants have relatively low levels of niacin, which adds another demand that animal-based protein must meet. Niacin deficiency symptoms can appear nonspecifically. They include loss of appetite, slowed growth, tiredness, and digestive problems


It is critical that a cat’s diet include niacin, as cats are unable to manufacture it.

In cat food, animal tissue is the most frequent source of niacin; however, plants do have traces of this vitamin. However, a diet with a lower quantity of animal tissues and a higher amount of plant tissues, such as grains, may not provide cats with enough niacin.

What if my cat ate dog food by mistake?

cat food

Cats are not harmed by dog food, although it should not be eaten in place of cat food on a daily basis. A cat can consume some dog food without suffering from illness, even though it isn’t the finest diet for them.

If you run out of cat food and only have dog food in the house, Dr. Ochoa says your cat will be fine if fed. There’s nothing to worry about if your cat takes a few morsels from your dog’s bowl, she adds.

Cats require a balanced diet that includes both dog food and cat food. For their long-term nutrition, cats can’t subsist on only dog food. Cats lose muscle mass and become sluggish if there isn’t enough protein in their diet. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, taurine is important for vision, digestion, heart function, fetal development, and a healthy immune system in cats.

What foods are poisonous to cats?

Cats should not consume chocolate, or onions, because they include chemicals that are harmful to cats. When kittens are young, however, they drink their mother’s milk. While kittens drink their mother’s milk when they are very tiny, cow’s milk is typically toxic to cats and can cause stomach upsets if your cat isn’t able to process it properly).

Read this article too: Can Cats Eat Chocolate?


So, can cats eat dog food? Cats and dogs are both carnivores, but their dietary needs differ. Dogs are able to digest carbohydrates better than cats, which is why dog food generally contains more grain. The high level of protein in cat food is essential for a cat’s health and well-being. While it is safe for cats to eat some types of dog food, it’s important that they don’t consume too much since this could lead to health problems. If you’re ever unsure about what your cat should be eating, consult with your veterinarian.

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