Can Cats Eat Dog Foods

Have you noticed your cat stealing your dog’s food? Or are you out of cat food and thinking about giving your cat dog food?

Today, many pet owners who own both cats and dogs are curious to know whether it is safe to give dog food to cats. From the packaging and appearance, both foods look almost similar. So, really, is there any difference? Yes, cat and dog food are different, and you should not feed dog food to cats and vice versa. 

So, can cats eat dog food? Can you feed a cat dog food?  The short answer is yes, but only in small quantities. To understand this concept in detail, keep reading till the end. 

Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Dog and Cat Eating Dog Food

Yes, but only for a short period. Cats are capable of digesting canine food, but if this goes on for a long time, it can harm them significantly. That’s because dogs and cats have different diet requirements. So, eating dog food will not cause any immediate reaction, but if it goes on for a long time, it can impact your beloved feline’s health. 

What Happens If a Cat Eat Dog Food? 

Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can eat meat, vegetables, and grains. On the other hand, cats are complete carnivores, meaning they thrive on meat. Can cats eat wet dog food? No, but if your cat has recently eaten dog food and is completely fine, then it’s nothing to worry about. However, if your kitty is showing any of the below physical signs of illness, you need to consult a vet immediately:

  • Vomiting
  • Allergies
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Excessive scratching or licking
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety and stress. 
  • Pancreatitis
  • Any behavioral changes. 

If any cat eats dog food for a long time, it may lead to:

  • Protein malnutrition
  • Eye disease
  • Heart disease
  • Organ damage
  • Weakened immune system

What’s the Difference Between Cat Food and Dog Food?

Golden Retriever and British Shorthair Eating

Can a cat eat dog food? If not, why? 

Dog and cat food aren’t formulated the same way, and that’s why they have different nutrients essential for the respective animal. This is why feeding cat dog food is not recommended. 

Here are the main differences between cat food and dog food: 

1. Taste

You’ll be surprised to know that humans have over 9000 taste buds, dogs have 1700, and cats have 470! 

For example, cats don’t have taste buds to taste sweet like dogs. So, it’s pretty evident that both felines and canines taste different food differently. However, even after the significant difference in the number of receptors, cats are interested in eating dog foods. 

2. Protein

As we’ve already mentioned, cats are carnivores; they need food that is high in protein, such as meat. Dogs are omnivores, so they require wet food to balance their meat and vegetable nutrients.

3. Taurine

Taurine is a nutrient that both cats and dogs need. However, the only difference is that cats don’t produce it naturally, and dogs can. That’s why all cat food has it, and most dog food has little or no taurine. This animal nutrient is vital for digestion, heart health, vision, and immune system function. So, if you constantly feed your cat dog food, felines can suffer from a weakened heart, loss of vision, and digestion problems.

4. Arachidonic Acid

Another animal nutrient that is essential for cats but can’t be created naturally is arachidonic acid. This is why it should be ingested from outside food sources. Dog food doesn’t contain this, so regular consumption of dog food can lead to skin issues and liver and kidney problems in cats. 

5. Vitamin A

Dogs can make vitamin A on their own, but cats can’t! So, felines need food with high amounts of vitamin A in it to remain healthy. Lack of this nutrient can cause excessive coat shedding, deterioration, and night blindness.

6. Niacin

Dog food doesn’t contain niacin, and cats do need this; hence, cats should always feed cat food in appropriate amounts. 

What is cat food made of?

Below is the complete list of nutrients and requirements for cats and dogs:

NutrientsCat FoodDog Food
Protein30% from meat and fish sources25% from animal and plant sources
CarbohydratesFewer carbs in the form of rice or corn30-60% supplied through grains or potato extracts
FatAlmost 20% of animal-based fatsOnly 5% required
TaurinePresent in all cat foods (essential for heart and digestive health)Absent
Vitamin APresent in higher quantitiesPresent in lower quantities
NiacinProvided through animal proteinsProvided through grains
Arachidonic acidPresent (essential for healthy liver and kidney function)Absent

What Food Can Cats Eat?

Difference Between Cat and Dog Food

What if you ran out of cat food and you’re now wondering what you can give to your hungry kitty? Fortunately, there are plenty of human foods that are safe for cats, and you might have these in your fridge already. 

Below is a list of human foods that are safe for your cat to eat:

Safe Human Foods For Cats.
Turkey (cooked)
Whole grains
Eggs (cooked)
Rice (cooked)
Chicken (cooked)

How to Prevent Cats From Eating the Dog’s Food? 

If you’ve caught your cat eating food from your dog’s bowl, don’t punish them or scream at them. It’s okay for felines to eat dog food once or twice, but it shouldn’t become a habit as it is harmful to their health. You should not feed cat dog food in any case. 

Here is how to keep your cat from eating dog food. 

  • Keep the dog food and cat food in different places, including their food bowls. The physical distance will help both of your pets focus on their respective foods instead of eating each other’s. 
  • Feed two pets at different times and in two separate rooms. For example, if you’re feeding your dog, keep your cat busy with other activities. 
  • Use positive reinforcement methods to train your cat not to eat from your dog’s bowl. 
  • Keep dog food in sealed containers so it is not easily accessible to your pets.
  • You can also use an automatic feeder to feed both of your pets at various times.

When Should You Contact a Vet? 

If you’ve noticed that your kitty is stealing dog food and grabbing small bites once in a while, it’s nothing much to worry about. So, what to do if your cat eats dog food on a regular basis? However, if your cat is showing any of the symptoms like heavy breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, hair loss, or weight loss, you should immediately call the nearest vet. These signs of illness may indicate underlying, severe health issues. 

Final Notes

After reading this blog, you now have the answer to your questions: can cats eat dog food, and can you feed cats dog food? It’s advised to keep an eye on your beloved kitty to check its health conditions. That’s because short-term consumption of dog food isn’t a concern, but when it becomes a habit, your cats can face severe health problems, including kidney and heart issues. On the other hand, your dog will get less food, which will also affect its health as it will get fewer nutrients. This is why it’s vital to give the respective type of food to the individual pets. 

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