Whether your kitty is tempted to sneak a bite of your dog’s dinner or you’ve just run out of cat food, you may be wondering if cats can eat dog food. This is a fair and common question, so we’ll give you the low down.
Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
The short answer is no, your favorite feline really shouldn’t eat dog food. While cats can technically eat canine kibble and be OK, it’s not something they should eat on a regular basis.
This is because dog food is specifically formulated for canine consumption with the proteins and nutrients that they need to live happy, healthy lives. Conversely, cat food is formulated specifically for felines and has all the ingredients that they need in order to be healthy.
So, while dog food isn’t technically toxic to cats if they eat a couple of pieces, it’s not going to do them any favors in the long run. In fact, if cats were to only eat dog food, then they’d become malnourished and experience poor organ function, compromised eyesight, and a ragged fur coat.
Dog Versus Cat Diets
Regarding diet, the primary difference between dogs and cats is that dogs are omnivores, which means that they need both high levels of plant nutrients and animal-based protein. Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores, which means that they require a diet with high levels of animal-based protein and fat and less of the fibrous plant stuff.
As such, cat food contains a 26% ratio of animal-based protein, whereas dog food contains about five to 10% less. Further, some of the proteins found in dog food are actually plant-based, which isn’t going to do much for your feline in terms of their health and wellness. Cat food is formulated with specific nutrients that felines need, including vitamin A and an amino acid called taurine.
If you’re in an emergency situation — say, you ran out of cat food, the stores are closed, and your cat is really hungry — then a small scoop of dog food isn’t going to hurt them. Still, they’d probably be better off with some canned tuna or unseasoned, cooked chicken, so opt for that instead if you have some on hand.
The Bottom Line
Cats are obligate carnivores and therefore rely heavily on the high-protein, high-fat food that’s formulated for them. Though they can get away with eating dog food periodically, they cannot sustain themselves on dog food alone.
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