Pet Diets 101: Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

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cat looking at dog's food bowl wondering can cats eat dog food

Pet parents aren’t vets or animal nutritionists by default. It takes a bit of effort to research and learn about what we could or should feed our feline and canine companions! Can cats eat dog food? Can dogs eat cat food?

There are more pet food options on the market than ever before, so navigating the best and safest diet for our pets can seem tricky.

Cat vs Dog Diets: The Biggest Difference!

Let’s get one thing straight: dogs have evolved alongside the human race for millennia, so naturally, their diet has adapted to include a lot of the food we eat. Dogs are omnivores. Yes, they can happily survive on a diet consisting mostly of meat, but at the same time, they do benefit from other food types mixed into their diets.

Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that their diet needs to consist almost entirely of meat (or other animal by-products). It is so incredibly important for any cat parents to know this simple fact.

Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

Rather than asking “can cats eat dog food?”, you should be asking yourself “SHOULD cats eat dog food?”. In 9 out of 10 situations, cats should not be eating the same food you feed your dog.

Cats are not able to digest certain foods in the same way dogs can, meaning that if your cat is eating dog food, chances are you are setting them up for a range of digestive problems!

In addition, there are two seemingly simple nutrients cats need in their daily diet. These are Taurine and Arginine. These nutrients are only found in meat, meaning that if Mittens isn’t getting meat, then she’s not getting these essential nutrients in!

person feeding cat dry food

Cat Food vs Dog Food: What’s the Difference?

Most dog food, especially kibble, is stuffed with fillers. These are mostly carbohydrates (carbs) like rice, potatoes, or other legumes. They’re not necessarily great for dogs, but dogs can digest them, so it’s not bad for them either.

Carbs are not good for cats. At all.

Another interesting difference between the dietary needs of cats and dogs is that dogs are able to “create” certain vitamins and minerals in their digestion processes. They can, for example, create Vitamin A by digestion beta carotene. Another example is that dogs can “make” their own Taurine and Arachidonic acid.

A Taurine deficiency in cats brings with it a long list of potential health conditions. It can cause hypertrophic cardiomyopathy among other things.

Foods Cats Can’t Eat

Other than NEEDING meat in their diet, there are quite a few other foods that cats can’t eat. It is a truth universally acknowledged that cats love fish. Most would live off fish alone, but that is a very, very bad idea.

As much as Mittens loves tuna, it can’t be the only protein you feed her. Fish does not contain enough Taurine to sustain a cat’s health. It is a wonderful (and delicious) addition to any cat meal, but only as a part of a well-balanced nutritional diet!

Can Dogs Eat Cat Food? Absolutely!

If you’re asking yourself “can cats eat dog food?” then you’re probably also asking yourself the opposite: can dogs eat cat food?

The short answer is yes because technically, cat food isn’t bad for dogs. However, even though they could eat cat food, that doesn’t mean that they should!

Dogs have absolutely no problem digesting that delicious food you are feeding your kitten. However, and there is a big “however” here: cat food alone does not make for a well-balanced nutritional diet for Fido! The emphasis here is “balanced”.

gray cat with meat in bowl wondering is cat food bad for dogs

Is Cat Food Bad for Dogs?

If Fido is gulping down the food of your feline furry friend on a daily basis, there is a very good chance they will very soon be dealing with all the negative health conditions caused by canine obesity.

Think about it, whether its dry food, wet food or canned food, cat food is packed with protein and fats. Don’t get us wrong, pet owners would be adored if not worshipped by Fido if they are offering a daily meal of cat food. But wow Fido would get fat. Very fat.

Yes, dogs can eat cat food, but they really shouldn’t. Canine obesity really does bring along with it a long list of potentially deadly medical conditions. Is cat food bad for dogs? Not if they indulge every once in a while. But if fed on a daily basis, cat food is bad for dogs!

Can Dogs Eat Tuna?

Yes. Dogs can eat tuna! Tuna is actually quite a nutritious protein and contains a bunch of nutrients that are good for Fido. Don’t overdo it though. If you want to feed your dog tuna, make sure that it is an addition to a well-balanced diet!

What Can Dogs Not Eat?

There is a long list of human foods that dogs can’t eat! Some of the top “no-no’s” are caffeine, xylitol and onions or garlic.

Is There a Cat Dog Hybrid Pet Food?

In some cases, the answer to “can cats eat dog food?” is yes. This is when you find a cat/dog hybrid pet food. If you ever find one of these pet food products, make sure you read that label. It is probably also worth asking your vet whether feeding you cat and dog this food is a good idea!

5 Answers to Cat Diet Questions

Let’s look at some of the most commonly asked cat diet questions!

How Much Dry Food to Feed a Cat? Soft Cat Food? How Much to Feed a Cat!

A general rule of thumb for feeding Mittens dry or wet food is to give them 3 oz daily for every 3.5 lbs they weigh.

Soft/Dry Cat Food Difference

There are varying opinions about whether soft or dry cat food is better for your kitty. Factors you need to consider when choosing between the two is the nutritional content, and of course, the price!

How Long Can Cats Go Without Eating?

This varies from one cat to another, but a cat’s digestive system is designed to deal with multiple small meals throughout the day. So, going without food for longer periods of time is not good for cats!

How to Make Cat Food

Because their diet consists mostly of protein, it’s quite easy to make your own cat food. Don’t let Dr. Google guide you though. If you want to feed Mittens a DIY menu, make sure you run it by your vet first!

golden retriever and two cats eating wondering can dogs eat cat food

Caught Your Cat Eating Fido’s Food?

Can cats eat dog food? You bet they can! It really is something you should prevent though! Your cat will try to get to Fido’s food, but it’s not a good thing to allow it!

Common Questions on Can Cats Eat Dog Food

Can cats eat dog food and be healthy?

Is cat food safe for dogs to eat?

Can I feed my cat and dog the same food?

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