Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

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For pet parents having both cats and dogs, this particular question comes across their mind more often than not. You might think that since meat or fish are the main constituents of both cat food as well as dog food, it is completely okay for your cat to have your dog’s food or vice-versa. However, in reality, things are a bit different.

One of the main reasons behind this is the fact that cats are more dependent on a protein-rich diet as compared to dogs. Most of the commercial dog foods available in the market contain vegetables as ingredients along with meat, which is not suitable for a cat’s digestive system. On the other hand, a lot of protein-rich diets are harmful to dogs, and cat food has a high level of protein content, which can be harmful to dogs. Along with that, there are many reasons why your cat should not eat dog food.


Here are some of the reasons why your cat should not eat dog food:

  • Lack of Vitamin A in dog food: Vitamin A is not present in commercial dog food as they can convert beta carotene into Vitamin A. However, cats require it for a healthy life. Even if you come across some brand that provides Vitamin A in their dog food, it is never enough for a cat to sustain itself on this little amount of Vitamin A alone.
  • Lack of Taurine in dog food: Taurine is one of the most important amino acids that all cats require. As dogs are known to produce Taurine by themselves, their food lacks the presence of Taurine in it. It causes the cats who are on a diet of dog food to suffer from a particular heart disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • Importance of Linoleic and arachidonic acids: These two are essential amino acids that a cat requires in order to have good kidney health and a healthy coat. Dog food contains linoleic acid and not arachidonic acid. Along with this, a lot of other vitamins and minerals like thiamin, niacin, and folic acid are also required by cats, which are not available in the required amount for dog food.


This table will help you know the importance of nutrients that are available in cat food, and not in dog food.

Nutrient Use Diseases Caused
Vitamin A For healthy skin and night vision Night blindness and unhealthy skin
Taurine Normal heart muscle function Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Arachidonic acid Proper reproductive functioning Insufficient platelet aggregation


Can you feed your cat dog food in case of an emergency?

There might be instances when you suddenly discover that all your cat food is finished at night, and your cat is looking at you hungrily. Maybe because it is night and all pet shops are closed, or there is a blizzard, and it is not advisable to go out, the first thing that comes to your mind is whether you can give your cat dog food. This situation is very common for pet parents who have multiple cats and dogs.

In these situations, it is okay for you to give your cat a bit of dog food. However, if this becomes a habit, it can lead to a lot of problems in the future. If your cat eats your dog’s food in case of an emergency, it is perfectly fine and will not make your cat fall sick.


Can cats be given treats designed for dogs?



As treats make up for only a tiny part of your cat’s diet, it might lead you to wonder whether it is safe for your cat to have your dog’s treats. The answer to this question is also similar. A few canine treats here and there for your feline buddy will not cause harm. However, prolonged use of dog treats can cause problems such as urinary bladder diseases and renal diseases. It is always advisable to buy treats made specifically for cats only. You can buy lickable cat treats, gourmet cat treats, or even crunchy and soft cat treats to spoil your fellow feline partner.


What should you do if your cat has been eating dog food for a long time?



Under such circumstances, you should immediately take your cat to the vet. Long term exposure to dog food can cause a lot of damage to your cat’s body that might be unsusceptible to our eyes. Therefore, it is always advisable to get your cat checked.

Right after you are done, the next thing you should do is make sure that your cat is not sneaking around and eating off your dog’s bowl.


How do you stop your cat from going after your dog’s food?

  • Remember to feed your dog in a room where your cat is restricted from entering. If excess food is left, remove it within 15 to 20 minutes to prevent your cat from getting a taste of it.
  • Store your dog’s food in a tight container where your cat will not get access to it.
  • Feed both your cat and dog at the same time in different rooms to prevent them from having each other’s food.

One of the major problems that arise when you prevent your cat from having your dog’s food, especially after a prolonged period of eating dog, is that it might develop an affinity for dog food and may be reluctant to start eating cat food.

Getting your cat used to eating cat food is going to be a challenge and will require you to be extremely patient. But it needs to be done for the betterment of your feline companion.



The answer to the question “Can your cat eat dog food?” is ‘Yes’ in case of emergencies and ‘No’ for prolonged periods. One of the major reasons behind this is that cats are carnivores, while dogs are omnivores. Dog food lacks a lot of nutrients that are essential for your cat to be healthy. Deficiency in these nutrients can lead to a lot of diseases in your cat.

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