Can Cats Eat Dog Food? | A Comprehensive Cat Diet Guide

Owning a cat and a dog together sharing the same ecosystem of your house can be very tricky in the initial days.

I mean you are inviting two very territorially sensitive species to live in the same space.

So at first, it takes time for them to know each other and get used to the presence of each other.

But over time they slowly go comfortable around each other and in the space that they share.

And before you know it they are playful, mischievous, snuggly and start wreaking havoc together to sweet to control.

Since both of your fur babies are sharing the same environment, many times it may so happen that cats may eat dog food and vice versa.

And so you may wonder, can cats eat dog food?

Will my cat eating dog food cause any trouble to her health?

And if it isn’t dangerous can cats eat dog food on a consistent basis?

But if dog food isn’t good for cats what to do if your cat just ate some?

If your mind is simmering with all these questions, read the post till the very end because can cats eat dog food is a very subjective question of which answer is going to be very comprehensive.

So Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Well, in general, dog food isn’t dangerous for your cat if consumed in a minimal amount.

A bite or two also won’t create any problems for your cat.

But if your cat is fed with dog food on a consistent basis, that may create some problems for sure.

The reason for that being the difference in the nutritional needs of cats and dogs.

We discussed a lot of diet insights for your cat in our previous posts.

Check them out !!.
  • Can Cats Eat Eggs?

Go through all of these posts to have a comprehensive insight into all of these commonly asked cat diet questions which I am sure you might have too.

Once you go through them and then carry on reading this post I can promise you that you will have a holistic view of what to feed and what not to feed your cat for her proper growth and evolution.

Because in all these posts we don’t just cover the topic in a yes-no way.

Because we all know there is no yes and no answer to these things.

I make it a point to back all the posts with scientific and research-based know-how for your convenience.


What Is The Difference Between Cat Food And Dog Food?

Now there is no lack of variety when it comes to dog foods or cat foods.

And the precise reason why there is so much variety apart from the presence of different brands is the nutritional value.

Cat food and dog food both come in different variations depending on their ingredients and flavor.

Dr. Werber explains that the protein content in dog food is significantly less than the amount of protein that is present in cat food.

The level of protein that cats need is less in dog food and this is one reason why cats should not be given dog food.

Also, a cat’s digestive system isn’t evolved enough to break essential amino acids that are present in dog’s food in larger quantities.

As a matter of fact, cats need a higher protein-rich diet while dogs can survive in bare minimum.

Cat food is generally higher in protein, fat, minerals and vitamins.

On the contrary, Dog food contains a higher amount of high concentrations of beta-carotene which is crucial for proper canine development.

In comparison to cat food, canine food is often made rich in vitamins and fiber but the protein and fat content is low.

This clearly explains what our cats will miss if they keep eating dog food.

Dog food is not harmful in shorter run but in longer run it will create nutritional deficiency in our felines.

Nutritional Details Of Cat Food

So I just explained to you the basic difference between cat food and dog food.

But in the next two sections please allow me to go a little bit more into what are the nutritional requirements of cats and dogs respectively.

I understand if you don’t want to go into the details. And if that is the case skip to the section – Can Cats Eat Dog Food, If In Emergency?.

But as a pet owner, I highly urge you to go through the details because it will make your understanding even more mature.

Vitamin A And Taurine

So as I said earlier cats need foods that are rich in proteins and fats.

The fiber content in a cat’s diet must be on the low side.

Cats need a diet that is rich in Vitamin A and taurine.

Taurine is an amino acid required by cats for normal vision, digestion and muscle function.

Taurine is essentially an animal-based protein that the wild cats get from eating raw meat but which for our domesticated cats needs to be fulfilled by the cat food that we give to her.

Proteins And Arachidonic Acid

How much protein a cat needs is again a subjective question and will depend on the cat’s activity and breed but in general a cat’s protein requirement is much higher than that of dogs.

Cats are essentially carnivores that have over time evolved to be a part of our domesticated environments.

If cats don’t have ample amounts of proteins in their diet, you will find their daily playful nature to come down.

Now you may say, well I don’t know about that because my cat sleeps all the time anyway!.

Yes, that is the case, but doe she not wreak havoc in bursts.

Suddenly running across the house for no reason.

Hunting birds, playing with cat toys in sudden blasts of energy for a period of time.

Yeah, that’s where the protein kicks in.

Talking about toys check these out :

Another very important constituent of a cat’s diet is arachidonic acid.

Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid needed by the cat for her proper growth, gestation and lactation.

Dogs derive it naturally from their foods, but cats can’t.

Nutritional Details Of Dog Food

Dog foods on the contrary generally contain higher concentrations of beta-carotene.

In senior dogs, beta-carotene becomes even more important as it helps in restrengthening reflexes and immune responses that may have dulled due to the aging process.

Other essentialities include vitamins, high fiber content, and lower protein and fat content when compared with cat food.

The reason why the constituency is kept so because a dog’s body has the tendency to become fat in excess of these components.

This is precisely what will happen if you allow your dog to eat cat food on a regular basis.

You will have a cute fat doge in your hand. 😛

So the same logic does apply to dogs eating cat food as well.

A cat eating dog food may seem deficient nutrition and a dog eating cat food may receive excess nutrition than what he or she needs.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food In An Emergency?

Now you may say, ok, I get it in an ideal situation I want everything to be where it should be.

My cat must eat her food and my dog must eat his dog food.

But what about in an emergency?.

What if I am out of cat food and it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and my cat is just one meow away from scratching my face in the morning?.

Or sometimes despite of your elaborate grocery list you still somehow managed to forget getting the cat food.

Now you are facing your cat who is giving you a judging and complaining look similar to your wife.

And now you are standing there wondering could you feed your cat with dog food.

Would it be safe or not?

So if that is the case I am here to eradicate your doubts in that respect.

Dr. Werber explained that dog food is not dangerous for cats. That is it won’t hurt your cat if you give dog food to your cat in an emergency.

He emphasized that in case of emergency it’s OK to give your cat dog food for one meal only if your cat has no underlying allergies.

While it is true that the food as we discussed won’t provide the precise nutrition required by your cat but hey something is better than nothing right?

But, please make sure you don’t let that become a habit.

It is very easy to drag something that works in the short term over a period of time because of our laziness.

People have been guilty of this because of which their pets, cats particularly have suffered.

So as long as you are not making it a habit, feeding your cat dog food is acceptable in an emergency.

How To Know If Your Cat Has Been Eating Dog Food.

Pet owners usually try to keep their pets disciplined when it comes to eating habits.

And in order to do so, they fix positions of food bowls for cats and dogs in the same area.

This may appear to be an intelligent way to train your cats and dogs but in your absence, your cat can definitely eat dog food from your dog’s bowl.

Cats are very stubborn on that part and you would definitely agree
with me on that, Right?

As I mentioned, you won’t see the consequences of dog food on your cat’s body in shorter run but if your cat starts showing symptoms like the ones mentioned below you need to visit your vet.

Symptoms are:

  • Discomfort
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hair loss
  • Bodyweight drop

All these symptom represent nutritional deficiency in your cat and if not treated in time, this may become fatal for your cats.

How To Stop Your Cat From Eating Dog Food?

Now that you have a clear understanding of can cats eat dog food it is imperative to take necessary action to stop your cat from eating dog food if she has made a tendency or knack for dog food.

Some of my recommended solutions are:

1. Avoid free feeding.

Instead of making food available all the time, feed your cats and dogs 2 or 3 meals per day as advised by your vet.

This would not only avoid excessive eating but also allow you to keep an eye on their diet.

2. Establish feeding schedules.

Try to feed your pets on a specific time.

Cats and dogs are intelligent in that manner.

They understand and take note of the time when they are fed.

By controlling their feeding time and encouraging them to eat at specific times they will stick to their bowl and won’t run for each other’s food.

3. Feed at different places.

Cats and dogs take note of spots and places that are allotted to them.

They associate spots with actions very easily.

For example, feed your cat on their cat trees or near their cat beds and feed your dog somewhere away from the cat’s reach.

Don’t worry if don’t have a cat bed for your cat here is our perfect guide on choosing the right cat beds that you can check out.

So feeding at different places would prevent them from intervening in each other’s diet.

4. Use different bowls.

Cats and dogs have this stark capability to distinguish between shapes and sizes.

Having identical bowls will probably make it hard for them to distinguish between each other’s food.

So allotting different bowls would more likely avoid them from confusion of choice.

5. Learn How To Train Your Cat

This is probably the best teaching you need to take out from this comprehensive guide.

Cats and dogs are our family members and they need to be treated as such with immense love similar to what we give our kids.

At the same time, we also need to understand that our pets are still in the middle of an evolutionary cycle moving from wilderness to domestication.

So you need to invest time in training your cat properly and establishing a proper relationship with your cat.

Don’t worry we have got you covered.

Go through these in-depth cat training guides and you will be at least 85% clear as to what you need to do to properly train your cat.

I say 85% because the rest 15% will depend on you and your cat.

You are unique and your cat is unique.

There won’t be anyone like you or like your cat in this universe.

Think about that for a second.

You and your cat share a unique bond and that’s why to this extent no solutions can be as it is or directly applied to your cats.

For the rest 85%, I am here for you 🙂

Check these posts out and save them for the future.

So this was my comprehensive guide on Can Cats Eat Dog Food.

I hope you found this guide comprehensive, useful and, fun too and if so let me know your experiences in the comments section.

Also if you have any doubts, don’t forget to mention them too.

Take very good care of yourselves and your pets and I will see you in my next one.

Bye! :).

References :

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A Humble Parent To Two Cats, One Dog, One Turtle And One Indian Ringneck. Have Been With And Around Pets And Animals For My Entire Life. Everything You Read Here Is An Expression Of my Love Towards Animals And The Innocence They Embody.

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