Is it okay for a cat to eat dog food? When you have more than one pet in the house, it can be hard to keep them out of each other’s food. If your cat likes to sneak food from your dog, you may be wondering if dog food can hurt a cat, especially if the cat has been eating it for a few days. Although a little kibble here and there won’t hurt your cat, dog food lacks essential nutrients your cat needs to live.
Cats Are Obligate Carnivores and Dogs Are Omnivores
Cats can’t live off dog food because they have different nutritional requirements than dogs. Cats are obligate carnivores, while dogs are omnivores. Obligate carnivores are animals that need meat to survive. They can digest some plant material, but it doesn’t meet their nutritional needs.
A dog, in contrast, is an omnivore. This means dogs can survive on a diet of meat, vegetables, grain, and fruit.
Dog Food Lacks Essential Ingredients Cats Need
Because of the difference in dietary requirements, dog food lacks the essential ingredients a cat needs to survive. Dog food doesn’t have the vitamin A, arachidonic acid, or meat-protein levels that cats need.1
In addition, cats can’t get some nutrients, like vitamin A, from anything but meat (or the nutrients provided in their cat food). For example, even though carrots are fine for cats to eat in moderation, cats can’t convert the beta-carotene in carrots into vitamin A.
Cats can also have serious health issues if they don’t get enough taurine in their diet, and taurine is only found in animal-based protein.2 Dog food doesn’t have enough taurine, protein, or other essential ingredients to sustain a cat. Instead, stick to high-quality wet and dry food for your kitty, like AvoDerm Natural Grain Free Salmon & Chicken Entrée in Gravy or Grain Free Duck with Turkey Meal.
A Little Dog Food Won’t Hurt Your Cat
With all of that in mind, it’s helpful to know that eating a little dog food here and there won’t hurt your cat. If he sneaks a kibble of food every now and then, he’ll be okay.3 But you can’t switch your cat to eating only dog food. You also want to make sure your cat doesn’t sneak so much of your dog’s food that he fills his belly and isn’t hungry for his own food.
Keeping Your Pets’ Food Separate
Keeping your dog away from your cat’s food is easy because you can simply feed your cat in a window-mounted bowl next to a window perch that’s out of your dog’s reach.
But keeping your cat out of your dog’s food is a little trickier. One method is to try feeding them at the same time, so your cat is preoccupied with his own food. You might also try feeding your dog in a room that your cat can’t get into. Another option is to feed your dog when you let her go outside and leave your cat inside.
Although a little bit of dog kibble here and there won’t hurt your cat, your fur baby could have serious health issues if the majority of his diet is dog food. Your kitty can also have health issues if he gets into certain types of human food that can be toxic to cats. Overall, it’s best to stick to high-quality cat food when choosing what to feed your cat.
1. Burke, Anna. “Can Dogs Eat Cat Food?” AKC, 28 December 2016, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-cat-food/.
2. Luna, Becca Risa. “Can Cats Eat Dog Food?” Rover, https://www.rover.com/blog/can-cats-eat-dog-food/.
3. Flowers, Amy. “Slideshow: Foods Your Cat Should Never Eat.” Fetch by WebMD, 13 February 2020, https://pets.webmd.com/cats/ss/slideshow-foods-your-cat-should-never-eat.
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