Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

So your sneaky cat has been eating some of your dog's food and you want to know whether dog food is safe for cats or not.

Well, I have done extensive research on the topic and consulted vets as well and the overpowering opinion is that although dog food is not toxic to cat, cats should not eat dog food as it lacks the essential nutrients a cat’s body needs to remain healthy and happy.

Below you will find all the information on the topic and we hope our research helps you understand can cats eat dog food.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food? And Can Cats Eat Dog Food Long Term?

No, cats cannot eat dog food. Although there is no harm if your cat has dog food once in a while or a small amount, it should not be part of their regular diet on a long term basis.

Cats have very different nutritional needs than dogs and the foods are specifically designed for cats and dogs.

Dog food isn’t toxic or dangerous for cats, it is just nutritionally insufficient for all of your cat’s health needs.

How Are Nutritional Needs of Cats Different To Dogs?

Cats are obligate carnivores unlike dogs which are omnivore which means cats require protein that comes from real meat and animal fats to support their natural bodily functions.

Not just proteins, cats also require other essential nutrients such as taurine, vitamins and minerals which is just not present in dog food as required by cats.

Cat food also requires different amounts of calories, water content and kibble size as per their species and mouth size. Dog food isn’t  designed specifically for cats so can cause issues.

Differences Between Cat Food & Dog Food?

According to our research these are the main differences in cat and dog food.


Cats have different taste buds than dogs, a good example of this is that cats can’t taste sugar whereas dogs can.

Keeping that in mind food manufactures produce food that is specific for the species which is very palatable to the species. This is especially important for cats which are known to be picky eaters.

We have observed that cats don’t usually like the taste of dog food unless you have a particularly curious cat and would stay away from it but dogs on the other hand love the high protein and fats in cat food.

Protein Content

Cat food should contain at least 30% protein content coming from real meat, along with 15%-20% fat

Dog food usually has a fed-basis protein level of around 18% – 25% whereas cat food usually contains 30%- 35% protein content per fed basis.

Even specialized dog food which has high protein content does not contain enough protein content that a cat requires.


Cats are among the few animals that cannot make Taurine and hence they need to get this essential nutrient from their food.

In all cat foods, taurine is added to ensure cats get the right amount of this essential nutrient. Taurine is rarely added to dog food and hence dog food is not suitable for cats.

If cats don’t get enough taurine, they can suffer from weakened hearts, loss of vision and digestive problems.

Arachidonic Acid

Arachidonic Acids are fatty acids that cats cannot produce in their bodies and need to be consumed from their diets.

Lack of Arachidonic Acids can lead to a bit of vague symptoms in cats such as  unusual liver/kidney values and increased skin issues.

As dogs can generate Arachidonic Acids, their foods don’t need to contain this nutrient whereas cats need this nutrient in their food. 

Another great reason to not feed your cat dog food over long periods of time.

Vitamin A

You might start seeing a pattern here, yes there are a lot of nutrients that cats cannot synthesise in their bodies and require those nutrients from their diets.

Vitamin A is another one of those nutrients that cats need to come from their diet as they can’t create it in their bodies. Although dogs also need Vitamin A to come from their diet, the amount required by cats and dogs is very different. 

Cats require much higher Vitamin A than dogs.

Vitamin A deficiency in cats can cause coat issues, muscle weakness and night blindness.


Cats cannot create Niacin in their bodies. Niacin helps your cat’s body break down fatty acids. Although dogs also get niacin from their diet, cats require a higher quantity of Niacin than what is available in dog food. 

If you want your cat to have a luscious coat, feed them only cat food.


Cat food is significantly higher in calories than dog food as cats require extra protein which also brings in more calories.

Cats cannot sustain healthy bodily functions with long term use of low calories food such as dog food. 

Kibble Size

Kibbles are designed specifically for animals by keeping in mind the shape and size of their mouth.

Also with the difference in size it is hard to measure the portion sizes and you might be at risk of over or under feeding your cat if you are feeding your cat dog food.

What Do Cats Need To Eat? Nutritional Needs of Cats

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need essential nutrients that their bodies need to come from their diet unlike dogs who can make some of these nutrients in their bodies such as Taurine.

As per Cornell, cats require the following nutrients:

  • Water
  • Fatty Acids
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Protein 
  • Amino Acids like Taurine coming from real meat

Cats require high protein, moderate fat and low carb content food to remain healthy.

How To Prevent Cats From Eating The Dog’s Food!

Here are a few ways you can stop your cat from getting into the dog’s food. 

  • Feed the cat and dog in separate rooms. Try feeding your dog and cat at the same time but in different rooms so that they are focused on their own food and not be tempted by the bowl next to theirs.
  • Only Give Required Amount: Do not overfill your pet’s food bowl. Give them enough that they can finish it all off in one sitting and there are no leftovers for your cat to get to.

What Do You Do If Your Cat Eats Dog Food? 

Don’t panic if your cat eats dog food. Dog food is not toxic to cats and will not cause any harm to your cat if they have had a nibble.

Just ensure you are not feeding your cat dog food on a regular basis or as an alternative to their species specific diet as this can cause health issues to occur in your cats in the long term.

You can use dog food as a short gap solution for a day or two.


What If My Dog Eats My Cat’s Food?

There is no need to panic, cat food is not toxic to dogs. But the high protein can be hard on the dog’s stomach and liver. It may also cause diarrhoea and vomiting which should subside within a day. If the diarrhoea and vomiting don’t go away after a day, take your dog to the vet immediately.

How do I Feed My Multi-Pet Household?

With a little bit of planning, you can easily feed your multi pet household. You can do this by creating a feeding schedule for your pets ensuring that they get sufficient food and don’t have to steal each other’s food. What also works is feeding your pets in different rooms or areas of the house. You can also try putting in physical barriers to stop your pets from getting into each other’s food bowls.

What Food is Poisonous to Cats?

Chocolate, alcohol, garlic, grapes, raisins and onions are all poisonous to cats. If your cat has eaten any of these even in the smallest of quantities, take them to the vet immediately.
Read more What Can Cats Not Eat Here.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food for a Couple Days?

No, cats cannot eat dog food for a couple of days. If they get into the dog’s food once in a while but it should never be their main diet because it lacks the essential nutrients that the cat’s body needs to function properly such as Taurine.

Is Dog Food Toxic To Cats?

No, dog food is not toxic to cats but lacks the proper nutritional value for cats. 

What Pet Food is Suitable For Both Cats And Dogs?

Wysong Eping 90 is suitable for both cats and dogs.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food
Changing Cat Food?

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