Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Can Cats Eat Dog Food

If you have both cats and dogs in your home you’ll probably see your dogs stealing some cat food, and cats stealing dog food from time-to-time.

But, can cats eat dog food and is it safe for them?

It’s certainly not ideal, cats and their dietary needs are quite different from dogs. The main difference is that dogs are omnivores, while cats are obligate carnivores.

This means that cats get most of their nutrition from meats, about 75% of ideally. While dogs can survive on a much evener mix of plant and animal-based foods.

Here are some of the reasons why cats can’t survive on dog food long-term, and ideally shouldn’t be eating dog food at all:


Cats require a diet much higher in protein than dogs. Dog foods will typically have 18-20% protein content, while cats require around 28-30% of their diet to be protein minimum.

It needs to be primarily animal-based proteins too. If you check the labels on your cat and dog food you’ll see how different the nutritional contents are.

Amino Acids

Cats also require amino acids, most of which they get from the animal-based proteins in their foods.

There is one particular amino acid called taurine which is vital to keep your cat healthy. Dogs do not need this in their foods and it’s often not present.

Vitamin A

Another important consideration is vitamin A. Dogs turn beta-carotene into vitamin A, while cats need to have it served up to them – literally.

For this reason, a lot of dog foods will not have enough vitamin A to keep your cat healthy in the long-term.

As you can see there are quite a few differences between cats and dogs and their nutritional needs. Far too many to justify deliberately feeding one of the other the others’ food.

Is It Dangerous for Cats to Eat Dog Food?

It’s shouldn’t do any harm for your cat to have a little nibble from your dog’s food bowl now and then, but you shouldn’t give your cat dog food in their bowls.

Just to make sure you understand how bad it can get. Eating dog food long-term can cause cats heart problems, deafness, stomach issues, kidney disease, and more.

It’s worth bearing this in mind if you have both cats and dogs sharing a space where they eat. Don’t just take it for granted that your cat will not eat their food, keep them well apart.

Can You Feed a Cat Dog Food in an Emergency?

Well, you could feed a cat some dog food without too much of an issue as I explained above. But what kind of emergency would it be that you’d need to do this?

You don’t have any cat food left and your cat hasn’t eaten all day? Maybe a little tuna or ham would be a better option?

Even making your cat wait until you’ve run to the shop and back would be a better option really. But if for some reason the only way your cat is eating today is with a little dog food, make it a one-off.

In Summary

Dog food is actually very bad for cats if they start eating any more than just the occasional few bites.

Keep your cat and dog foods separate and make sure they are not eating each other’s food. They have very different nutritional needs, and their foods are made to tailor these needs.