Can Cats Eat Dog Food?

You’ve probably caught your cat sneaking a few bites of the food your dog left in their bowl, but can cats eat dog food and not get sick?

Some cats will eat whatever food they can find, while others will turn their nose up at their dish if they don’t get their favorite brand. For the ones that will eat anything, you have to make sure they aren’t getting into food that isn’t made for cats.

Can cats eat dog food?

Cats can eat catnip and treats made from tuna, salmon, and chicken, but can cats eat dog food? The simple answer to this question is yes. If your cat eats a little bit of dog food nothing bad is going to happen to them, but don’t think you can save money and start buying the same food your Fido and Whiskers. Your cat’s diet should consist mainly of food made specifically for felines.

“Cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements and foods for other species should not be a large portion of their diet,” says Leasa Moltke, Solid Gold Pet nutrition expert. “Feeding a cat dog food as a measurable portion of their overall diet can cause a host of issues such as mineral deficiencies, organ dysfunction, and poor digestion and skin and coat health.” Along with the question, ‘Can cats eat dog food?’ people often wonder, ‘Can cats drink milk?’ Here’s the answer.

According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the minimum protein percentage for adult cat food is 26% on a dry matter basis, for dogs, it is only 18%. So, if your cat is being fed mostly dog food, they won’t have enough protein in their diet.

“Cats also require supplementation of the amino acid taurine in their diet because they cannot synthesize it as dogs do,” says Moltke. “This need for taurine in their diet is what classifies cats as Obligate Carnivores, while dogs are considered omnivorous.” Since dog food doesn’t contain taurine, cats won’t get all of the supplements they need if they only eat dog food.

Can dogs eat cat food?

Since the level of protein is higher in cat food, your dog can get sick if they eat too much cat food. “Dogs gorging on cat food may experience digestive upset or even pancreatitis, which can be caused by eating a large amount of fat when not accustomed to it,” Moltke told Reader’s Digest.

Cats and dogs are different species and therefore require different levels of micronutrients and macronutrients. “Cats have higher protein and fat needs along with an increased need for certain minerals and vitamins,” says Moltke. She recommends always feeding your pet the appropriate diet so they get the best possible nutrition. Now that you know not to feed your cat dog food, make sure to avoid these other dangerous mistakes that cat owners make.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.