Can Cats Eat Dog Food? Is It Safe?

  • By Sana Riaz
  • December 21, 2022
  • 5 minutes read
Can Cats Eat Dog Food - Is It Safe for cats

Have you ever thought about what can you do if you run out of cat food in the middle of the night? Relax, it’s nothing to worry about because if you have dog food in your house, the problem is temporarily solved for the night.

You can feed dog food to your cat because cat food and dog food are similar in a lot of ways. But the thing that we need to keep in mind here is how much dog food should you give to your cat and whether is it safe for your cat to eat dog food.

Is It Safe For Cats To Eat Dog Food?

Yes, it is safe for cats to eat dog food but only in a small amount. A small amount of dog food would not harm your cat’s health. But make sure not to feed them dog food for a very long time.

Cat food and dog food have different nutritional components that are made specifically for them. Long-term feeding might lead to serious issues and obviously, no one wants their cats to get sick.

Generally, it is considered safe to feed dog food to your cats but if your cat has a health condition like cancer or kidney disease, keep your kitty away from the dog food. Some cats would be fine with eating dog food but some may react to it. Some cats may get allergic and develop diarrhea or vomiting etc.

Difference Between The Nutritional Needs Of Cats And Dogs

No doubt, cats and dogs are our favorite pets but they are different from each other. It is important to understand these differences before you feed dog food to your cat. Both of our furry animals have different nutritional needs.

Cats are obligate carnivores and they rely only on animal products. Cats need animal protein to thrive while on the other hand dogs are omnivores. Dogs can have a flexible diet and can eat both meat and vegetables but cats can not.

So What’s the Difference Between Cat Food And Dog Food?

There are quite a few differences between cat food and dog food so let me explain most of them one by one below.


Cats are not as good as dogs at perceiving taste. Dogs have 1700 taste buds while cats have 470 taste buds. Cats lack the ability to perceive sweetness. So, firstly the main difference between cat food and dog food is the taste.

Differences Between Cat Food And Dog Food

Our furry felines are picky and would not eat every other food so cat foods are specially designed to be highly palatable to tempt them. This is why cats generally do not eat dog food because of its taste. On the other hand, dogs love to eat delicious cat food.


Since cats are carnivores by nature, they require a diet that has a higher protein content than dog food. Some dog food brands claim to have high protein content but still, on average, they cannot reach the high levels of protein found in cat food.

Cats need more proteins than dogs for a healthy life and If you start feeding your cats dog food on a daily basis, it may lead them to have protein deficiency which can cause serious health issues.

Most dog foods have an ‘As-Fed’ protein percentage of 18-26% while on the other hand cat foods have an ‘As-Fed’ protein amount of 30% to 34%.


Like humans, cats do not have the ability to make taurine so they get taurine from their diet. Most dog foods do not include taurine but cat foods are designed to have taurine. If cats would start eating dog food only, they would have weak hearts, digestion issues, and loss of vision.


Vitamins are also an important part of the cats’ diet that they need for energy. Specifically, Vitamin A is the one that cats cannot make on their own but dogs have the ability to produce Vitamin A on their own. So, Vitamin A must be included in a cat’s diet.

Dog foods do not contain Vitamin A in high amounts so if cats start eating dog food, they would have Vitamin A deficiency which leads to muscle weakness and deterioration, poor coat, skin, and eye health. Cat food has a higher amount of Vitamin A as compared to dog food.

Arachidonic Acid

Arachidonic acid helps improve skin health, and liver and kidney functioning and regulates the reproductive and gastrointestinal systems. It is another important fatty acid that cats cannot produce, it must be ingested with the food in the case of cats.

Cat foods are formulated to have this fatty acid while dog foods usually do not include it because dogs can make this fatty acid on their own. Some dog food brands may have it.


Another essential element for cats is niacin. Cats cannot make niacin on their own so they get it from their diet. Cats get niacin from animal tissue because plants have a low level of niacin. A diet that has low levels of animal tissue and high levels of plant tissue cannot give the proper amount of niacin to cats.

Water Intake

Cats may get dehydrated if they do not take the proper amount of water. This is why vets recommend wet or raw foods for cats (even though if your cat doesn’t have any dehydration problems, dry cat food is perfectly good for your cat as well). Now, if your cat develops a habit of eating dry dog food, it might not get the proper water intake it needs.

Should Cats Eat Dog Food?

Should Cats Eat Dog Food

No matter how healthy a portion of dog food is, it can never replace cat food. These two products are totally different and pet owners need to understand these differences. Cats have unique nutrient requirements that can only be fulfilled by their diet. The only way to meet their nutrient requirements is to provide them with a complete and balanced diet that improves their overall health.

The cat food that you are choosing for your cat should be formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. If you are not sure what to choose for your cat, talk to a vet and buy the best option available in the market.

How To Keep Your Cat Away From Dog Food?

We all know how stubborn our cats are. You will do everything to keep the dog food away from them but they would find their way to reach the dog food. If your cat cannot stop nibbling on dog food, get an elevated bowl for your dog so your kitty cannot reach it.

Another mistake that a lot of pet owners make and they do not notice is that they feed their pets in the same place. This is also a common place where the problem starts. Keep their bowls in different places so they cannot steal each other’s food.

Another thing you can do to stop your cat from nibbling on dog food is to set a specific time for feeding your pets. Stop free feeding your cat, set the feeding time, and once they are done eating, remove the bowls.

If you have tried everything and your cat still cannot stay away from the dog feed, it’s time that you visit the veterinarian for a more professional advice.

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