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Perhaps you found your cat eating dog food and are deeply worried about whether any harm will come to your pet. Maybe you have surplus dog food and are not sure if you can simply feed it to your cat. Know from our experts and read on to learn if dog food is bad for your feline friend.

Are Cats Allowed to Eat Dog Food?

Can cats eat dog food? Our experts say no, cats should not be allowed to feed on dog food. Cats aren’t canines and have different nutritional needs that must be met by a cat’s diet. Cats are also obligate carnivores so they need to eat meat to survive to get essential amino acids and fatty acids, whereas dogs can thrive solely on plants and vegetables.

green-eyed cat

Therefore, while a chunk of dog food may be generally considered safe for cats, dog food lacks all the necessary nutrients that cats need in the long term .

Acceptable Conditions

Did you run out of your cat’s food and are now wondering if you can save money by giving your pet dog food? Or did you find your cat eating from the dog’s bowl and are now concerned about her gastrointestinal system? The truth is, most dog foods aren’t toxic to cats and you can give healthy cats dog food occasionally.

green-eyed cat staring

You can allow your cat to eat a small portion of dog kibble as this will not have any toxic effects. However, don’t make this a habit. Our team of experts are firm that canine kibble should not replace cat food and you should not give your cat dog food for a long time. Doing this will lead to detrimental, if not deadly, consequences because a dog’s food does not contain a cat’s nutritional needs.

Cat Nutrition Essentials

Cats and dogs have different dietary requirements. Here is a brief of a cat’s nutrition essentials.

Important Cat Food Components For Good Health

Feline foods are specifically formulated for cats. They contain the right type and the best combination of minerals to meet the nutritional needs of a cat. 

For example, cats need taurine, arachidonic acid, fatty acids and vitamins that they can’t manufacture in their body, but dogs do not.

grey tabby cat lying on the floor

Therefore, our veterinary experts recommend that you choose a brand of pet food with the right food components designed for cats as described below and let them have their own food.

Dog Food vs Cat Food

Here are key differences between dog food and cat food:

Size

The portion size and consistency of the meal is one big difference between dog and cat food. Commercial foods for cats usually come in small, manageable, and mouthful-sized pieces that can be easily swallowed whole. They are also often moist or wet. This is because cats are small animals with a small mouth. 

Another reason is that cats don’t have molars with which they can grind and chew their meal before swallowing it.

hand feeding a cat

Dog food, on the other hand, is drier, larger, and more difficult to swallow whole. Your cat may be putting itself at risk of choking.

Taste

Cats have fewer taste buds (470 taste buds) than canines (1700 taste buds) and therefore perceive taste differently than canines. Unlike dogs, cats can’t taste sweetness. 

As a result, cat foods are specially made to be highly palatable to entice cats, which are occasionally picky.

Protein

Cats need more protein in their daily recommended dietary allowance than dogs. For instance, an adult dog requires a minimum of 18 percent of protein while an adult cat requires 26 percent. 

orange tabby cat hiding face

More so, cats need to consume taurine and arginine (essential animal-based protein found in meat) daily. Hence, cats must eat their own meals daily to survive as dog meals do not contain enough protein and other nutrients.

Experts explained that dogs, on the other hand, can manufacture taurine in their body. 

Arachidonic Acid

Just like taurine, dogs can naturally manufacture arachidonic acid in their body. Hence, canine meals don’t contain this acid. But cats need to get this amino acid through their meals. This acid helps in maintaining cats’ kidney and coat health.

Vitamin A

While canines can do well on vitamin A from vegetables [1because they can convert beta-carotene into the type of vitamin A they need, cats rely solely on animal-based vitamin A. Though some canine meals may contain animal-based vitamin A, they won’t have it in the right amounts needed by cats for optimum health. Cat food must also include essential vitamins like vitamins B, D, E, and K.

Himalayan cat getting a treat

How to Feed Your Cats and Dogs Separately

If you realize that your pet cat is feeding on dog food, our team of experienced pet owners recommend that you feed both pets separately. This goes beyond just separate feeders, you also need to feed them in two different rooms. Keep the cat meal in a room inaccessible to the dog and vice versa. This will keep the pets away from each other’s food and prevent cats from feeding on dry dog food.

Food Hazards for Cats

As stated above, some dog foods are in larger sizes and may choke cats if swallowed. While some cats can feed on a particular food item without any issue, other cats may feed on the same food item and develop health problems like diarrhea, vomiting, or other adverse signs. 

FAQ

Can cats eat dog food temporarily?

Yes, cats can eat dog food temporarily. However, doing this on a regular basis can be harmful for your pet and it’s best for cats to follow their own diet.

Can cats eat dog food for a couple days?

No, cats cannot eat dog food for a couple days. If your cat eats dog food for a long time, your cat won’t get the right and necessary minerals and proper nutrition its body needs, and complications will begin to set in. Your cat may become sick, have an upset stomach, diarrhea, or chronic disease as a result of a lack of nutrients.

Conclusion

Is dog food bad for cats? No. Though a dog diet is non-toxic and will not cause any harm to the cat’s healthy life if fed temporarily, a dog diet is not meant to meet cats’ nutritional requirements. If you replace cat food with dog meal permanently or for a long time, your pet cat won’t get the necessary nutrients her body needs, and its health may begin to suffer.