Can Cats Eat Dog Food

Published: 20 Apr 2024
Kathy R. Conner
Kathy R. Conner
Kathy is a licensed veterinary surgeon and writer in Miami. With over 20 years of experience in deal with pets and small animal, she hopes to share her knowledge on what she learned throughout her life to all animal lover. On her free time, she likes to attend Yoga and Meditation classes.
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Our articles are meticulously composed and vetted by veterinary professionals, guaranteeing precision and pertinence by consulting credible sources, chiefly scientific journals and veterinary manuals. Prior to publication and major revisions, we thoroughly validate the factual correctness, providing well-researched content rooted in veterinary science.

How long can a dog go without a bowel movement? Is it safe for a dog to go several days without defecating? Is it necessary to seek immediate home remedies for a dog suffering from constipation? Remember, signs of constipation do not always indicate a grave medical condition. Yet, if a dog has not had a bowel movement for many days, it then escalates to a significant health problem.

If the constipation is accompanied by behavioral changes, appetite disruptions, dehydration, and the inability to exercise, it could be a severe condition. This guide sheds light on various elements of dog constipation problems.

Are Cats Allowed To Eat Dog Food?

Pet owners that have both cats and dogs often ask the same question. While a small amount is not harmful to cats, feeding them with a dog’s diet is definitely is not advisable. Looking at the dog food labels, you may see some of the same ingredients listed but what’s more essential is the percentage of nutrients that the diet is composed of. Do note that felines have unique dietary needs and unlike canines, cats are obligate carnivores–they have to eat meat to survive. On the other hand, canines are omnivores and they have a more flexible diet and can eat vegetables and meat.

In this case, cats need relatively high amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fatty acid, along with other vital nutrients and it is important that you give them the food that is tailored to their needs.

Feline Animals Eating In A Dog's Bowl

How Does Cat Food Differ From Dog Food

Cat food and dog food are formulated differently by experts. In manufacturing cat food, the cat’s nutritional requirements must be taken into account. Although dog foods are enriched with essential nutrients, cats can only have a taste of it but it is not recommended to give it to your pet on a regular basis. The key difference between the two pet food products include and are not limited to the following:


Cats’ sense of taste is quite different from canines. They have fewer taste buds than dogs and cannot sense sweetness, which explains why cats are such picky eaters. [1] Cats have 470 while dogs have 1700 taste receptors which compel cat food manufacturers to formulate more tasty foods to entice the cats to eat.


Cats are natural carnivores, and because they are strict carnivores, they may need more animal-based protein compared to dogs and rather than digestible carbohydrates. Cats require enough protein percentage in food to compensate for their high energy demand. Consumption of dog food will lead to protein deficiency in cats and may result in specific health issues.

Although some dog food claims to have high protein levels, none will suffice the high protein requirement cat to stay healthy. Most dog foods have an “As-Fed” protein level of 18-26% while cat foods have a protein percentage of 30-34%, while supplement canned cat food contains 40-50% meat-based proteins.


Cats, like humans, are incapable of synthesizing their own taurine, which makes it an important element of cat food products. Unlike dogs that can produce their own taurine, healthy cats take this nutrient from the cat food that they eat.

Excluding these amino acids in the diet of your cat may lead to a taurine deficiency which can cause health-related conditions like enlargement of the heart, digestive tract problems, as well as blindness in cats.

Arachidonic Acid

Arachidonic acid is an essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized in cats’ bodies. This makes it important to have arachidonic acid-enriched cat food for your cat to supply for their feline needs. Dog foods are not supplemented with arachidonic acid as dogs are capable of synthesizing their own, which makes it not ideal for cats.

A Stray Cat Was Given Dog Food

Vitamin A

In addition to the list of essential nutrients for cats is vitamin A. Cats do not have the capability of vitamin A synthesis so it is important that the food that your cat needs, should be enriched with this essential nutrient.

Failure to supplement your cat’s diet will lead to vitamin A deficiency which can cause poor coat health, weak muscles or muscle deterioration, and night blindness. Cats and dogs’ foods contain vitamin A. Even though the same food contains this particular nutrient, dog foods cannot compensate for the level of vitamin A that should be included in cat nutrition.


Cats are required to have niacin in their diet as it cannot be synthesized by your cat alone. On top of plant tissue, animal tissue is considered to be the most common source of niacin in cat food. Although plants contain certain amounts of niacin, it is important to note that it is not an ideal substitute for animal tissues as a primary source of niacin. Hence, foods that contain high amounts of plant tissues like grain cannot provide all the nutrients that your cat needs.


Cats require high-calorie intake. If you are planning to feed your cat with the food that is in your dog’s bowl, you might cause other health-related problems instead of cutting your costs. Cats necessitate a relatively higher amount of calories than dogs and cats eating dog food may not meet their daily calorie intake requirement.


Dog food also differs from cat food in terms of portion size. Cats tend to have smaller portion sizes and it is not ideal for your cat to binge-feed over large portions of dog food. So next time you feed your cat, make sure to offer the food in small amounts.

Feline Animals Eating Vegetables

What Is Cat Food Made Of?

Cat food has relatively high levels of calories, fat, proteins, and significant amounts of taurine to meet the different nutritional needs of almost all cats. Generally, a cat diet contains the following ingredients:

  • Whole-food ingredients
  • Animal protein
  • Animal fats
  • Essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids

Cat diet should not contain by-products, filler, or artificial additives and should only contain the best ingredients to ensure optimum levels of nutrients.

Felines Savouring Wet Food

The Importance Of Life Stage

It is important that you give your pets the right pet food appropriate for the life stages of your pet. An organization called the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) explained that food labels should be categorized under three life stages- Growth, Maintenance, and All-Life. Among these main groups, nutrients like fat, carbohydrates, and protein needed by cats, are varied according to their diet.

A Dog And A Cat Getting Along

What If My Cat Accidentally Eats Dog Food?

Do not panic if your cat accidentally eats dog food as nothing harmful can come your cat’s way when they occasionally eat food intended for dogs. However, your pup’s meal shouldn’t be eaten in place of cat meals as they have key differences and the dog food may not provide the daily nutrient requirement of your cat.

Kitten Eating Meat With More Protein

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

There are a few things you can do to prevent your cat from eating your dog’s food. Separating your cat from your dog can be very helpful. You need to put enough distance between your pets in order to stop your cat from feeding on your dog’s food.

Tom Cannot Eat Sugary Food

Frequently Asked Questions

What would happen if cats eat dog food?

Nothing would happen if a cat eats dog food. Although dog food isn’t dangerous for your cat, it isn’t advisable to support your cat with any dog food as these foods cannot meet your cat’s nutritional needs. For your cat to live a healthy life, give them a diet – dry food or wet food – that best fits the different nutritional needs of different felines.

Can cats eat dog food for a couple of days?

The short answer is yes, cats can eat dog food for a couple of days but not for long-term feeding. Your cat has different dietary requirements that dog foods may not be able to provide. On top of the reason that it lacks important nutrients exclusively needed for cats to remain healthy, dog food contains extreme levels of carbohydrates that are not necessary for cats and can be harmful if taken in large quantities and sustained periods of consumption. In essence, cats can consume dog food for some time but not for long periods.

What food is poisonous to cats?

Some food that is poisonous to cats include chocolates, milk, and onions. Chocolates and onions contain toxins that are highly dangerous for your cat. On the other hand, while kittens drink milk before transitioning to kitten food, milk may cause upset stomachs and may cause your feline friend to be unable to digest food properly.


As a pet parent, it is one of your core responsibility to give the right nutrition for your feline friend. Giving them the right nutrition would not only make them feel enlightened, but it will also ensure to lessen the frequency of pet visits since you’ll be keeping health-related issues at bay.

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