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Many pet owners have asked can cats eat dog food? Many people have wondered about this question since most cat owners also have dogs. While an occasional bite of the food cannot endanger the cat’s life, long-term feed your cat dog food may be harmful. This is because cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements. If you feed your cat on a diet meant for dogs it can easily become malnourished. This article answers the question of can cats eat dog food.

Cat Nutritional Requirements

Due to the flavor and aroma of the food many food products are attractive to the cat. In fact, there are certain ingredients that are very much appetizing to the cat. However, these tasty foods do not mean that they are healthy. It’s just like the way brownies and potato chips are extremely appetizing to humans but are not healthy. Although cats lack a sweet tooth they can crave certain foods that are not particularly healthy to them.

As compared to dogs, cats are obligate carnivores that require much more protein to sustain their life. Contrary to the cats, dogs are omnivorous hence can consume a lot of non-protein foods such as fruits and vegetables. Cats’ digestive system cannot accommodate these foods especially if they eat them in large amounts. Eating a little dogs’ food may not harm the cat but they will not provide nutrients such as taurine which is very important to the cats.

Also, cat’s liver is ever on a high enzyme activity hence it’s only good for a high protein diet. As compared to the cats, humans and dogs have the capability to lower their enzyme activity to accommodate low proteins. Cats do not have the capability to extract nutrients from plants and break down the cell walls of fruits and vegetables.

Proteins and Amino Acids

Unlike dogs, cats have a higher need for proteins. Every cell in their system has protein which performs a variety of functions including regulating metabolism, providing energy and helps in the growth and repair of tissues. Proteins are actually the major component of the cat’s skin, hair, tendons, cartilage, ligaments are nails. While dogs need only 18% of proteins in the diet, cats require approximately 26% of proteins. After digesting proteins, amino acids are produced. These fall into three major categories namely essential amino acids, nonessential amino acids, and conditional amino acids. Although dogs have different nutritional requirements, their meals lack essential amino acids that are very important to the cats with the most important ones being taurine and arginine.


This is an essential amino acid which is predominant in seafood and meat. Cats require this amino acid for neurological development, reproduction, bile salt formation, normal heart function, and vision. As felines, cats synthesize small amounts of these in their bodies with most of it coming from the meals that they eat. However, since dogs can synthesize this amino acid, it’s not a must to add it on their foods hence if you feed a cat on dog’s food it will definitely result in taurine deficiency.


This is also another essential amino acid that is responsible for ammonia detoxification and protein synthesis. A cat that lacks it will have excess ammonia in its system thereby resulting in spasms, hyperesthesia, paresthesia, and muscle spasms.


As compared to other animals, cats cannot convert vitamin A precursor into active vitamin A also known as retinal. However, dogs are able to convert this vitamin into an active vitamin A. This means the cat must obtain its free retinal from food. When a cat is fed on appropriate cat food, vitamin A deficiency becomes very rare.

Most other animals are also able to synthesize their own vitamin A. However, since cats cannot do this, they must obtain this from their diets. This is a water soluble vitamin hence it cannot be stored so must be supplied on regular basis. Vitamin B, also called Niacin, helps the nervous system to function, converts nutrients into energy and is also needed for a healthy coat, skin eyes, liver and skin. As compared to meat, less of it is found in plants.


Fats generally provide the cats with energy and are also important in the production of certain hormones and the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Dog food does not have these fatty acids which are important for maintaining the cat’s coat and kidneys. For proper nutrition, cats and dogs, therefore, needs different amounts of minerals and vitamins in their diets.

Stop Your Cat Eating Dog Food

Unlike dogs, cats are fussy eaters and most dog’s food contain cereal which is lacking in the important nutrients that the cats needs. Interestingly, cats will sometimes eat dog food if they can access it. Although an occasional bite of the dog’s food may not harm the health of your cat, it’s advisable that it does not eat a lot of dog’s food. How can you prevent this from happening? Here are some tips to help you

If you cannot feed your dog outside, lock it in a room before giving it food. You can use the laundry room to do this.

Feed your dog on specific times during the day. While the dog is eating, ensure that the cat is inside. After 15 to 20 minutes, remove any uneaten food so as to prevent the cat from eating dog’s food.

If your dog is bigger, place the food container on a raised platform just slightly lower than the height of its head. Remember, if the container is too wide the cat can easily jump into it. This is why it only needs to be wide enough to contain your dog’s food.

Feed both the dog and the cat at the same time.

Store dog food in a container with lid so as to prevent the cat from accessing it.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food Summary

A cat’s nutritional needs is totally different from that of a dog. There are many essential nutrients that the cat can only get from its diet and not from dog food. The levels can also be too low to satisfy its needs. Feeding your cat on a balanced diet is, therefore, very important. So, can cats eat dog food? No.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food Infographic