Can Cats Eat Dog Food?- Important Health Advice

Most pet owners that own both a cat and a dog will often ask themselves the question ‘Can cats eat dog food?’ on noticing their cat steal some of the dogs food, if left unattended. Most don’t know if it is good or bad for the cat. However, the answer to this question is a little more complex. Of course the straight answer is yes, but you have to follow it up with ‘Is it healthy for my cat to eat dog food?’ and the answer is no. Having said that, here in this article today we will be looking at why dog food isn’t healthy for cats to eat, and some important information regarding the health advice surrounding this topic.

can cats eat dog food



Can cats eat dog food? The health reasons why cat owners should discourage this.

1. Cats should not eat plant based foods

Both dogs and cats are completely different in terms of how they digest food and process it, and it’s pretty simple to understand once it has been explained. Dogs are categorized as Omnivores, meaning they can obtain the essential proteins, vitamins and minerals needed to survive from both plants and meat. However, cats are categorized as obligate carnivores, meaning they get all of their nutrients from animal based foods, like meat, and do not receive any health benefits from plant based foods.

2. Cats need more protein in their food than dogs

It is stated that cats require 26 percent of protein in their diet to function properly, whereas a dog only requires 18 percent, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Moreover, dog food contains considerably less protein than cat food, some of which could be from plant based foods, which in turn will not be enough nutrients for a cat to survive long term. Furthermore, dog food also does not contain arachidonic fatty acids, which your cat needs to maintain a healthy coat and healthy kidneys.

3. Adverse long term effects for cats due to different mineral and vitamin requirements

Cats that steal a little of your dogs food now and then won’t hurt him, but feeding a cat dog food for the long term will dramatically effect his health, and can cause some serious problems. Moreover, cats and dogs require completely different vitamins and minerals, for instance, a dog requires much less thiamin, niacin and folic acid than cats, meaning their food has much less in it than a cat food. Feeding a cat dog food will lead to a deficiency in many of the important ingredients he needs to stay healthy, so he will eventually become ill.

A healthy cat

4. Cats digestive system cannot handle vegetables and fruit

Dogs are like humans when it comes to eating, meaning they can eat lots of vegetables, and even fruits, unlike cats that cannot digest these foods properly, especially if eaten in large amounts. Keep in mind, that a cats liver works at a high enzyme rate, which is ideal for a high protein diet, whereas humans and dogs are able to lower their enzyme activity when eating low protein foods. Moreover, cats cannot break down vegetables or fruits and extract the nutrients like us or dogs.

5. Dog food diet for lengthy periods will cause illness in cats

If we take it a step further, and say we are going to feed a cat dog food for a length of time, this will eventually result in one or more of many illnesses. For instance, a lack of taurine, which is not present in dog food, can lead to blindness in a cat, or deafness, or worse still, it can cause heart problems. Having said that, there are many other problems that can arise from eating a diet designed for dogs, like lethargy, a poor conditioned coat, it can have an effect on his or her reproduction system, seizures, and even death.

6. Reasons why some cats like eating dog food

There are many reasons that a cat owner may think about giving their cat dog food, dog food is generally cheaper than cat food, or you see your cat eating your dog food without any ill effects, but feeding them dog food long term should not be done, ever. So why do cats seem to love dog food?

  • It could be there is an aroma that is attracting him to the food, or a specific ingredient, or he just may be feeling left out if he doesn’t swipe some of the dogs food.
  • However, it is a bit like us eating chocolate cake, we have a taste for it, and we love it, even though we know it’s not good for us, but a little is ok now and then, eating chocolate cake long term and nothing else would probably end us in the hospital though.

Watch this funny video which shows cats stealing food from dog bowls:-

7. Set aside separate eating areas for your cats and dogs

Now that we know cats eating dog food is not a good idea, and that if you own a dog and a cat, you should probably give them separate feeding areas, or feed the dog in a different room until he has finished. Having said that, if you feed a dog and he doesn’t finish, don’t leave the half eaten bowl around, so the cat can help himself to it later.

8. Have your cat checked out by vet if he eats dog food regularly

If you have a cat that has been eating your dogs food quite regularly, you may want to schedule a visit to the vet, just to get him checked out and make sure everything is good, as cats have a good way of making you think everything is good with them, even if they are sick.

9. Some Extra Facts About A Cats Diet

  • Vitamin A has to be present in cats food, yet dogs only require beta carotene because their bodies can turn this into Vitamin A. Taurine is an amino acid that cats require, yet dogs can make their own, so many dog foods do not contain this amino acid, and if a cat eats this regularly and doesn’t get the required Taurine, he can suffer from a devastating heart condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM. Arachidonic fatty acid is another fatty acid that cats need, and they need the real thing, whereas dogs can make their own, so it’s very important to feed cats cat food, and dogs dog food.
  • Many cats with HCM do not show any signs of illness at all, whereas others may show signs of labored breathing, rapid breathing or open mouthed breathing and lethargy. Moreover, the potential life threatening part of HCM is the formation of blood clots in the heart, these clots may travel around the bloodstream causing even more problems. Clots can result in the prevention of blood flow to the hind legs causing hind limb pain and possible hind limb paralysis, and although rare, cats with HCM are at risk of sudden death.


When it comes to feeding our cats, and dogs, deciding if feeding them the same type of pet food, can be critical to their overall health. Therefore, we hope that our article topic here today, has helped our readers to make a better informed choice selection for their pets. Finally, by taking the time to ensure that they both have the proper types of food for their overall health requirments, can help them to not only thrive, and stay healthy, but also for them to be around for many long years of enjoyment within your family for many years to come.


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Author: James Kelly

James Kelly is a network marketer and blogger who earns a living from affiliate programs and blogs

24 thoughts on “Can Cats Eat Dog Food?- Important Health Advice”

  1. Thank you for this elaborate article, I use to think that cat is omnivorous, i never knew they were obligate carnivores whose digestive system cannot handle vegetables. My neighbor has cats and I see her feed them with beans and rice. I will forward this to her as a way to enlighten her too

    1. Good to find that you learned something new from my article Owoeye and will be passing the information onto your neighbor. Jim

  2. I have seen my cat eat some of my dog’s food several times. But it’s good to know that although they can eat a bit, it’s not good to replace their diet with dog food. I really didn’t know that cats digestive system cannot handle vegetables and fruits. I’ll forward your post to my brother because I think he’ll also be surprised. Thank you for helping us avoid dificulties in the long run.

  3. Great article! I have four cats and a big dog. I’m fortunate that my cats never steal the dog’s food anymore. I’ve found something they all enjoy more than the dog’s food so that might be part of why. It was tough keeping one of my cats from his food bowl. Anytime she could eat, she would. I think the dog might’ve nudged her away a few times she’s tried to steal his food while he’s eating. Plus, the food is too big for her anyway. We have a Saint Bernard/Lab mix. I’m glad I’ve finally gotten my cat to stop stealing his food. This was a nice article that brings attention to the problems with cats eating dog food. Thank you for the read.

    1. Great to hear from you Eirian and thank you for your comments. Good to hear how some households cope with having a mixture of cats and dogs at mealtimes!. Jim

  4. Your photo looks like our kitty Simba. This information is good to know as we dog owners get some pups once in awhile but keep kitty aware from their food. The dogs are more apt to go after our kitty’s stash. Those are all good points of why cats should not eat plant-based foods. Your suggestion is good about separate eating areas. This is important info to have.

  5. Two months ago I had one dog and one cat. You are right; my cat liked to eat the dog food when my old dog was sleeping. Last September, I took my 15 years old dog to a vet for treatment, but it was beyond treatment and died on the operations table.  

    My cat may have been be sick like you have mentioned in the article from eating dog food in the past. Thank God I gave the remaining dog food to my friend because my wife insisted I did. so. I now feed my cat daily three times with the right cat food

    Thanks for your article sharing about the differences between cat and dog food. 


    1. Thank you very much Stephen for sharing your personal experience with us. Sorry to hear about you losing your dog. Best wishes. Jim

  6. Very Very informative! My wife and I knew not to feed our cats dog food but I never understood why! Now I know and understand! We have 6 dogs and 4 cats and we get special dietary foods for both. It is so nice to realize we are doing the right thing for them. Thanks for the excellent explanation!


  7. We have cats in the house several times weekly when our daughter visits.   Unless they are staying overnight, she does not bring special food for them, but they will eat any dog food they can find. I suppose this falls under eating dog once from time to time.  Even so, your informative article has got me thinking that I should make sure that dog food is not available for the cats.  Also, feeding them something appropriate would be a good idea.

  8. Hi there!…thanks for that important information, cats are just like their big cousins in the wild, they are predators by instinct and thus carnivorous. I have seen cats hunting rats, birds, lizards, geckos, small insects, chicks, fish and frogs then ate them not because they are hungry but for the reason that they are predators and carnivores. My neighbor also owns a cat before and always hunts for rats in our backyard and every morning when I woke up, I always found their cat with a dead rat under her claws. I also observed that cats ate green grass and vomits with a greenish yellow vomitus. Are they sick? I assumed they are because as a physician if someone vomits then there is something wrong in that person’s body unless she is in her first trimester of pregnancy. Here in the Philippines, majority of the people owns a cat as a pet and they reproduce and increase in numbers and sometimes they can’t be fed properly and became stray cats that steals food from other neighbors kitchen. Thank you again for the share.

    keep safe!


    1. Thank you Laertes for those comments. Yes cats are great hunters. As cat owners my wife and I frequently had the misfortune to find dead birds and mice that our cat had deposited under our bed! Jim

  9. Fruit and vegetables, I never knew they should not eat them or dog food.

    I have both dogs and cats in my household, and they steal each other’s food. I put out cat food for the cats and dog food for the dogs, and I have often seen them swap over and each other’s meal.

    I know dogs should not have too much cat food as it tends to give them the runs, but it has enlightened me about the cats’ digestive system.

  10. Thanks for you post on cats’ diet. I have a cat, myself, and didn’t realize the wide differences there are between dog and cat food. I didn’t realize that cats cannot break down fruit and vegetables. I know some dogs like to eat most anything. I fed my previous cat kibble and she ended up with kidney disease. I decided to give this cat a varied diet. The vet suggested giving her pate`. Do you have any information on the benefits of pate`?

    1. Thank you Carolyn for your comments which are greatly appreciated. It is very important that you do feed your cats a varied diet. Yes vets do suggest wet food in the form of pate formulated for cats with kidney disease. Kidneys are important because they remove waste substances from the blood, and maintain the normal balance of fluid and minerals within the body. The diet change suggested is to correct a dietary imbalance and hopefully assist in managing the kidney disease. JIm

  11. I learnt a few things new today. I always thought cats and dogs were omnivores where they can eat pretty much anything. Never realized that cats are considered obligate carnivores. Now I have a much better understanding of why I will see the different cat and dog foods being sold in the supermarkets. There was a time where I was thinking this is just marketing but now I know there is a good reason in that they are ultimately different species having different dietary requirements. The main learning takeaway I have is that cats should not eat plant based food. This is something I will now remember. Thanks for sharing. 

  12. Wow, I have had cats and dogs my whole life and I had no idea that cats should not eat dog food. I assume that because the two foods are very different that dogs should not eat cat food either, correct?

    Fortunately, my dogs and cats always had their own food and I did not have to concern myself with any of the issues you explained.

    1. Many thanks for those comments. Dogs should not eat cat food which is generally very protein dense and which  can cause gastro problems to them as well as obesity if eaten regularly. Jim

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