Can cats eat dog food?

If you have more than one cat in the house you’re probably used to the sight of them stealing each other’s food from time to time. 

These culinary crimes, while annoying for the victim, don’t warrant any cause for concern from a nutritional perspective overeating though can lead to obesity and serious health complications, so tracking intake is crucial. 

Two cats, no problem. The situation becomes a little more complicated when there’s a cat and a dog under the same roof though.

We can’t observe our pets every single second of the day. Now, given how much cats love their mealtimes, and some of the similarities cat and dog food share, there’s every chance a peckish feline may end up tucking into the wrong bowl. 

But, can cats eat dog food?

The short answer is yes. Cats can eat very small amounts of dog food without any serious long-term health consequences. However, if these cheeky, once every so often, incidents turn into a more constant habit then you could have a dietary dilemma on your hands.

Is dog food dangerous for cats?

Technically, dog food isn’t dangerous for cats. It’s certainly not toxic, and so gobbling up the occasional mouthful isn’t going to cause any serious or lasting effects.

Feeding your cat a diet consisting solely of dog food though, over a sustained period of time, will eventually result in their health suffering considerably. 

This is because dogs and cats have distinctly different nutritional needs.   

To meet these needs, their contrasting foods are formulated using different ingredients in order to give their bodies the correct fuel to function optimally. 

All felines are obligate carnivores, meaning animal meat is a menu-must otherwise they won’t receive all the nutrients they need to grow and develop. 

Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores, which means they’re able to eat a more flexible diet, one that’s high in fruits and vegetables, in addition to animal meat. 

Simply put, cats require food that has a higher protein content than dog food does. 

The taurine factor also needs to be taken into account. Taurine is an essential amino acid critical to heart health. Whereas dogs and humans are able to synthesise it organically, cats can’t. Cat food therefore, unlike dog food, is supplemented with enough taurine to ensure our felines are consuming a healthy daily amount.

The best food types to feed your cat

  • Dry/kibble. Cats should be fed dry food as part of a complete and well-balanced diet. Kibble made with lean animal protein and natural omega oils will help keep your feline fighting fit, ready for whatever the day may bring. Other benefits include its ease of preparation, convenience, longer shelf life, and the fact it allows for free-feeding.
  • Wet food. No cat diet is complete without the addition of wet food. Tastier than kibble, the aroma of wet food will have your felines licking their lips the second you open that pot, pouch or tin. Its high moisture content also ensures hydration levels are well maintained.
  • Raw. With cats being obligate carnivores, it makes perfect sense they would enjoy a diet containing raw animal meat. Succulent taste aside, it also comes packed with protein, is high in moisture, contains vitamins and minerals, and can be easily digested. Caution should be exercised when handling raw meat as it may contain parasites or bacterias.
  • Natural cat food. High quality natural ingredients – completely free from preservatives, flavours and colours – are enriched with nutrients that will improve your cat’s overall physical health and mental wellbeing. Natural cat food supports better digestion, and will help toughen the immune system while keeping energy levels up.
  • Limited ingredients. Limited ingredient cat food is formulated to reduce the amount of ingredients that your cat is exposed to. It still contains all the essential, body-boosting nutrients needed to keep them happy and healthy, but by scaling back the ingredients they’re eating, we can significantly lower the risk of them suffering a food allergy.

What should I do if I see my cat eating dog food?

Although cats cannot be maintained on a diet of dog food over the long term, there’s certainly no need to panic if you see them sneaking a bite every now and then. 

You should only begin to worry if their forays into canine feeding territory start to become a regular occurrence.

If that does become the case, you will need to make sure your feline is getting all they need from their own diet. 

Cats need a diet that’s complete, well balanced, contains high quality ingredients, and is mouthwateringly tasty. 

If you’re satisfied that mealtime ticks all these boxes – but they’re still sniffing around other food bowls in the house – stagger feeding times, keeping your pets separate while they eat. 

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