Should Cats Eat Dog Food?


cute calico cat eating dog food pic

Cat: "nom nom nom.." Dog: "That's mah fud..."

Should cats eat dog food? Many people wonder about this question since many cat owners also have dogs. There are a few reasons why cat owners consider feeding their cats dog food:

1. Dog food is usually significantly cheaper than cat food.

2. Many cat owners have seen their cats stealing dog food and are confused if the food is right for their cats.

3. Dog treats come in more varieties and are usually readily available at most stores. Certain cat treats such as dental treats may not always be available at some stores.

cute cat about to steal dog food pic

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So is it ok for cats to eat dog food? The answer to that question is simple: cats should not be fed off dog food because felines and canines have very different dietary needs, but a few nibbles from the dog’s dish won’t do any harm.

Many foods are attractive to cats. It could be the flavor or aroma of the food that triggers them to chow on it or there are certain ingredients in the food that are extremely appetizing to cats. However, tasty food does not always equate to healthy, nutritious food. It is like human snacks that are often made of grease and salt or sugar. Potato chips and brownies are not the healthiest choices but they are surely tempting to a lot of people. Similarly, cats may not have a sweet tooth, but they can develop cravings for certain foods that are not necessarily healthy to them.

cute cat eating dog food pic

This kitty is munching on the pup's food. The dog looks so confused.

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Cats are obligate carnivores that need much more protein than dogs do. This means cats need meat to sustain their life. Dogs on the other hand are omnivores, like humans, that can consume a lot of non-protein foods such as vegetables or fruits. Cats cannot digest those foods very well if they consume an excessive amount. A little bit of dog food will not do any harm, but it will have very little nutritional value for your cats. Cats may even be able to survive on dog food, but they will lack certain nutrients such as taurine (amino acid) which is essential to cats.

cute cat eating dog food pic

This kitty decided to chow on the dog food while the dogs were eating

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Cats’ liver is constantly working at a high enzyme activity which is perfect for a high protein diet. Unlike cats, dogs and humans are able to lower their liver enzyme activity when they consume low protein foods. Also, cats are not equipped with the ability to break down the cell walls of vegetables and extract the nutrients from a plant.

As long as cat owners make sure that their cats’ main meal is cat food instead of dog chow, it should be OK.

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15 Responses to “Should Cats Eat Dog Food?”

  1. My kitties like to steal pieces of kibble from the dog bowl :)

    • Stacey says:

      My cats also like to steal dog food from time to time. I make sure they stop when I catch them. I had one cat pass away recently. Although he was 12 years old and it could have been something else, I just want to make sure my remaining cat doesn’t get ill.

  2. Brian says:

    You got it right, only if we're woofies!

  3. I had a friend whose cat loved to steal the doggie food – it was the big kind. The cat would play with it for a while then eat it. I think it was like a hunting thing – it had the added satisfaction of getting to eat the "kill" afterwards. Of course, the cat pretty much thought he was a dog (loved to go out on the leash, prefered outdoors to the litter box, stuff like that) so maybe he thought it was his too. He still ate his own food too, but just loved those big doggie chunks!

  4. Tara says:

    What about the other way around? Since dogs are omnivores, I assume that it should be ok for them to eat kitty food?

  5. Wouldn't hurt every now and then.

  6. victoria says:

    interesting article about cats eating dog food..thankyou

  7. Christopher says:

    I have this problem all the way around. The cats love the dog food and the dog loves the cat food. I had to start putting the dog bowl away while I was at work so one of the cats wouldn't eat all the food… and I have to put the cat bowls up high otherwise the dog will stuff himself with as much food as he can.

  8. Becky says:

    OMG, this had benn a problem for me for so long…I CANNOT keep my cats away from my dogs food. My dog is a black Lab, a rescue dog that was severely starved and abused before I got her. She has a very hard time not eating my cats when they raid her bowl…I shew them away when I see them. Gabby has been awesome though…I've had her now for almost ten years and she tolerates the cats pretty good.

    I do like the poster above…I put her food away when I leave and I close our gate so Gabby can't get out of our den(she loves our couch when we're gone…lol). I leave her water out of course…she doesn't seem to mind them sharing her water.

    My cats seem to be very gluttonous when it comes to the dog food. I buy very good dog food(not from the vet, but good ingrediants…Gabby likes it)…I guess I need to figure out what the ingredient in it that the cats are going after and see if I can either grow it, or find it in a supplement…? Maybe?

    Thank you for this article…it was very helpful.

    • Farrah says:

      Becky, did you ever find out what it was and figure out how to provide for your cat in other ways?

      I have my first two dogs in my life…now for 4&5yrs. They now have two different foods thanks to a bladder condition in my dachshund…on a prescription food. My other dog is on lamb&rice Science Diet. I found a cat in my garage back in April '10 and rescued him big time! He also was starved and a complete mess. He was my first indoor cat ever!! B/c of my ex-husband's allergies he was an outdoor cat off and on for a few months when it was nice outside. When inside, he had his own room to stay in while healing from different medical things. Well, my ex-husband left, and my cat is now roaming the entire house :) and tries to steal dog food all of the time. I was told once that they should not eat dog food at all, but happy to read that it's okay. I give my cat dog food as treats…I think that's hilarious! He gets prescription dog food treats and regular science diet food treats…lucky and spoiled cat….and dogs!!!

      This article was very cute and helpful! Thanks!

  9. Cheryl says:

    I recently purchased a more holistic dog food and now my cat refuses to eat her cat food. My cat’s a picky eater. What can I do to get her to go back to her mainstay cat food of 14 years and leave the dog food for the dog?

  10. carl says:

    my cat wont eat her food,but keeps nicking dog food, when taken to her own food she walks away!, dont know what to do. bored of flavour? i dont know.
    my dogs too doppie the other way and dont give her a growl and just lets her push him away.

  11. eloise says:

    i have a little problem my cat is a year and a half he wont eat cat food ive tried everything wet food dry food fresh food e.g chicken, beef ,liver, fish but he isnt intrested. my mum keeps catching him pinching out of the dog bowl he eats the wet food in gravy. so i cant understand why he wont eat cat wet food i buy the equivilant to my dogs food and he still wont eat it really confused. i can get him to eat some cat biscuits but he will only eat it once so the the box is wasted. its costing me lots and i dont think he will get the right nutriance or enough could someone please give us some ideas thanks x

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