Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Growing up, my amazing grandmother had two dogs and six cats (sometimes even more). It always made trips to my grandparent’s house exciting and being a curious kid, my sisters and I found it entertaining when we switched their food bowls. This always resulted in my grandmother yelling at us to stop hurting her felines. This comes back to the primary question of: can cats eat dog food, or is it harmful?

My grandmother was a very wise woman (still is) because the answer to this question is yes, it could be harmful in the long run; however, a single nibble on dog food will not harm them instantly. It is continuing to feed cats on a daily basis dog food that will harm them in the future. Listen to my grandmother. Don’t hurt the felines!

Cat vs Dog Food

Our furry four-legged friends that roam our houses or apartments may have in common their thirst for attention, but their diets have many differences that are critical for the nutrients they need to live a fruitful and energetic life. For all those cat lovers out there that are thinking about feeding their feline dog food, the first thing you need to understand is that cats need more nutrients than dog food contains. Dog food is cheaper, and this is one of the primary reasons cat owners are looking to switch over, but sometimes cheaper is not the best option. What is in dog food that could harm cats? Below we will break down dog food and what nutrients cats truly need to sustain them.


Cats are strict carnivores, while dogs are omnivores. This means that while dogs can eat meat and vegetables, cats typically have a diet of just protein. For this reason, dog food does not have the correct amount of protein that cats need to stay healthy.

Our felines lack the enzymes to make certain amino acids, such as taurine and arginine. This is imperative to know because they must be added into a cat’s diet – while dogs have the ability to synthesize taurine, cats do not. With this in mind, if cats are deprived of taurine it can be extremely harmful in the future. It can lead to blindness, an enlarged heart, and digestive problems.

Fatty Acid Requirement

Just as cats lack taurine and arginine, they also can’t make an important fatty acid called arachidonic acid. Dogs can naturally make this acid, so their food is tailored towards that, but cats must ingest it to get the acid’s nutrients. If not, cats could suffer from an abnormal liver or an increase in skin issues.


Another huge factor is the different proportions of vitamins that cats and dogs need to maintain their health and energy. For felines, Vitamin A needs to be added into their diet since their bodies don’t produce it – unlike dogs. There are some dogs foods that contain Vitamin A, but there is not nearly enough to support a cat’s diet. Cats also require high niacin levels, which are also included in dog food but at a low amount.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food: The Life Stages of Cats 

Can cats eat dog food within their different stages of life? Feeding cats dog food within any stage of their life still can be harmful in the future. But what are these stages and why should they matter? There are three life stages of cats to keep in mind when feeding them the proper amount of nutrients.

  • Growth
  • Maintenance
  • All-life Stages 

Throughout a feline’s life, they will go through each one of these stages, and with each stage, they require different intakes of proteins and vitamins to maintain their health. For instance, when taking care of an energetic kitten that scratches up your couch and kicks the litter out of the box, these young felines need more nutrients and energy sources. If you have an older cat that would rather lay on a large pillow than run around, they need more protein to sustain their muscles as they grow older. 

A Summary Of Whether Cats Can Eat Dog Food

Cats and dogs have a lot of differences and food is one of them. To keep your cat healthy in the long run, feeding them dog food could harm them and prevent them from getting the true nutrients they need to live happily. If you have both a cat and dog that live together, your cat will not have any severe effects if they take a nibble of dog food once in a while. But make sure this is not a recurring situation. Felines need more protein and vitamins that dog food does not have. Keeping them on a healthy diet that suits them is imperative for them to keep growing and to stay healthy. 

Do not harm the felines by feeding them dog food regularly. Instead, find food that will provide them with the energy they need to keep you entertained and them happy. 

Written By Miranda Cooks

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