Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Can Cats Eat Dog Food
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Yes, cats can eat dog food in small amounts without experiencing any harm. However, dog food will not help a cat meet its nutritional needs and is therefore not advisable for long-time feeding.

It is not uncommon to find pet owners with cats and dogs in the same home. While both are pets, these two animals differ in many things, including behavior and nutritional needs.

Therefore, it is common to find a pet owner buying different food for the other animals. During veterinary visits, one question that arises is, can cats eat dog food? Read along to get the answer to this question.

Can You Maintain a Cat on Dog Food in the Long Term?

It is impossible to maintain a cat on dog food long-term. Otherwise, there is a likelihood of deadly consequences such as cat malnutrition. A cat may experience the side effects because cat and dog food have different nutritional components. Pet food manufacturers manufacture food for each species depending on their unique dietary needs.

white and red plastic container

Dogs vs. Cats

The main difference between dogs’ and cats’ nutrition is their nature. Dogs are omnivores and can thus eat both vegetables and meat. However, cats are carnivores, and their diet should be meat-based. You can complement a cat’s diet with animal fats to help the body systems function properly.

Cat Food vs. Dog Food

Are you wondering whether there is a difference between cat food and dog food? Cat food differs from dog food in the following ways:


Like humans, cats cannot make taurine and must get in the diet. The lack of taurine in cats causes vision loss, dilated cardiomyopathy, and digestive problems. Cat food contains added taurine, an element that is never in dog food.


Like taurine, cats cannot make niacin in their body. The readily available source of niacin is animal tissue. Cat food is made from animal tissues to provide this element. Dog food contains a small amount of niacin, whose source is plant tissue.

Vitamin A

Both dog and cat food contain supplements of Vitamin A. However, dog food does not have a high level of Vitamin A. Therefore; a cat must feed on cat food to get the right amount of Vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency cause weak muscles and poor vision in cats.

Do you Know?

We’ve done our research for lots of foods and have vetted them if they are safe for your pets. Why not check out this article: Can Cats Eat Cucumber?

Arachidonic Acid

Cats cannot create the fatty acid known as arachidonic acid and must ingest it in their diet. Thus, cat food contains this supplement. Low levels of arachidonic acid in cats cause skin issues and kidney issues. On the other hand, dogs can create arachidonic acid in their bodies and is rarely in dog food.


Cats need a higher protein intake than dogs as they are pure carnivores. Some of the specialized dog foods contain high levels of protein than regular dog food. However, dog food’s high protein level will not meet the minimum protein intake.


Do you know that animals have taste buds like humans? However, each animal tastes food differently than the other. For instance, cats perceive taste more than dogs. Moreover, cats have more taste receptors than dogs. Therefore, pet food manufacturers make cat food more palatable than dog food. You may notice that a cat may not enjoy dog food due to the difference in taste. However, a dog will enjoy cat food, mainly because of its high protein content.

grey tabby cat beside short-coat brown and white dog

Your Cats Life Stage Matters

Besides cats having different nutritional needs, the dietary requirements for cats vary according to their life stages. Kittens require food with high energy and more nutrients as they grow. Older cats require protein-rich food to strengthen their muscles as they age.

While feeding a cat dog food may not cause any harm, it is not advisable to feed it dog food. Cats require a high-quality diet to meet their feline needs. Therefore, get cat food for your cat to ensure it receives the maximum nutritional benefits for your pet’s growth and optimum health.

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