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Can a Cat Eat Dog Food? What You Need to Know as a Pawent

After a month spent traveling all over Southeast Asia, we came back exhausted but full of unforgettable memories. In the meantime, our beast stayed at his grandma’s house where he was well taken care of. Maybe even a little too well 😉 Indeed, although Yoda looked to be in great shape, he had gained a little weight.

It did not take us very long to figure out why.

First off, the portions given by grandma were bigger, but maybe more importantly, he was eating in every other food bowl available in the house. There are 3 other dogs living here and Yoda seems to enjoy trying new foods (who can blame him?).

Now, he seems healthy despite all that dog food he had been eating, but we could not help to ask ourselves if this new behavior was dangerous for him. Can a cat eat dog food without consequences? Let’s have a closer look (and Yoda, no dessert for you ! ;))

can a cat eat dog food

In this article:

  • Why do cats eat dog food
  • The differences between cat’s and dog’s nutrition
  • What are the risks of a cat eating dog food
  • What to do

Why do cats eat dog food?

Let’s start with the hardest question that one should really ask. How to explain this behavior? It’s hard to tell because it’s a bit difficult to discuss this question with the main protagonist 🙂 Let’s try to make an educated guess anyway.

  • Your cat just likes it! Whether it’s the meat or something else, one of the ingredients in your dog’s food is particularly tasty to your cat and he will keep coming back for more. You can try to read the ingredients list on the back of the bag of kibble if you need to further investigate.
  • Your cat wants to show your dog who is the boss. In the wild it’s the jungle law. Whoever is the most powerful gets to eat first. It might be in your cat’s genes to show his superiority. Or maybe he’s just trying to piss your pooch off!
  • Your cat is actually a dog. In this case, consider buying yourself a pair of glasses (just kidding!)

is it dangerous for a cat to eat dog food

What is the fundamental difference between cats and dogs nutrition?

Both cats and dogs are carnivores, however, the main difference is their need for specific nutriments.

  • Cats need 12 essential amino acids where dogs only need 11.

Amino acids are the main constituent of all proteins. If regular amino acids can be synthesized within the body after eating proteins, essential amino acids must be included as a part of their diet.

  • Cats need taurine (amino acid). Taurine plays a major role in their vision, digestion, heart function, pregnancy and fetal development, and more generally contributes to a healthy immune system.
  • Cats cannot convert beta carotene (pigment in many plants and fruits) into vitamin A like dogs can. They need preformed vitamin A to be included as such in their diet (liver is an excellent source of vitamin A).
  • Cats need 5 times more thiamine (vitamin B1) than dogs. This vitamin is essential for their coat, appetite, posture, and neurological health.

croquettes chat différentes chien

Whether it’s for a cat or a dog, the food you buy should always be of superior quality. The reason behind this is simply because it guarantees our feline friends a long and healthy life.

It’s important even for you! Feeding your cat (or dog) correctly might be more expensive on the short term, but it will save you hundred of dollars in vet bills later! If you want to know more, check out our complete guide on how to feed your cat.

Is it dangerous for a cat to eat dog food?

It is dangerous if it’s the only food s/he eats! As mentioned before, cats have unique needs and it is absolutely essential that they are taken into account.

A cat eating only dog food will be missing out on his required dose of Taurine, Vitamin C and even Thiamine. The consequences on your cat could potentially be disastrous!

However, if your cat (like our Yoda) snacks in is buddy’s plate from time to time,  it’s no big deal! Dog food isn’t toxic for cats, it’s simply less nutritious. As long as your cat still eats his normal food designed for his own needs than he will be a-okay!

My cat eats dog food all the time! What can I do?

When it’s feeding time, make sure that your furry friends both eat what they are supposed to eat! I know, it’s a bit less convenient but it’s the only way if you want to make sure they get what they need.

For that purpose it’s important to set schedules for them. Or at least for your dog: it’s pretty easy to avoid your dog eating your cat’s food by placing the kitty’s bowl on higher grounds.

For your sneaky cat, it’s important not to take any unnecessary risks. When feeding your dog, make sure to put your cat in another room (or keep an attentive eye on him). It’s hard to start but it’s a routine that will work like a charm. If your dog has not eaten everything after 30 minutes, simply remove the extra food. It will probably take a few days but once the routine is set, everything should fall back in place and everyone should finish his bowl.


Can a Cat Eat Dog Food ? Final Thoughts

Cohabitation between cats and dogs is not always easy!

However if you are the lucky owner of one of each, you will be thrilled with the cuteness they will bring to your home! And if they do get along, this food problem is a minor trouble but easily fixable. You will need to put some extra time in changing this bad habit but it’s worth the effort! And hey, you signed up for this so it is your duty as a parent to protect them the best you can 😉

As for us, our Yoda is now on the watch as we slowly try to teach him good habits again. This sneaky beast is doing good! To reward him in his efforts, we treated him with a meowbox (check out what happened here).