By in Animals

Is it Okay to Feed Dog Food to a Cat?

f you own a cat and a dog you may have noticed that dog food is cheaper than cat food. You may be wondering if you can feed dog food to your cat, either to save money, or if you have run out of cat food.

The short answer is “ No, you should not feed dog food to your cat ”, read more to learn why.

Even if you were to offer dry dog food to your cat, your cat will probably refuse it unless very hungry or curious. Your cat might eat canned dog food but usually not with the same enthusiasm they have for proper cat canned food. Some wont even eat the dry dog food.

While cats and dogs are both considered to be carnivores, cats are true carnivores , and dogs are not. Dogs can handle more of an omnivorous diet, and in some cases can do well on an all vegetarian diet (a vegetarian diet will reduce a cat’s lifespan). As such dog food typically contains less meat than cat food since meat is more expensive and food companies know that lower prices tend to sell more food.

It should be noted that many poor quality cat foods are not particularly high in meat content, many use cheap filler such as corn, but dog food tends to use more and a poor quality dog food has even less meat than a poor quality cat food. As such the cat’s needs for meat protein are not met when the cat is fed dog food. This is also why a cat is less likely to even want to eat dog food, it simply won’t smell meaty or appealing.

Without the proper level of meat protein a cat can suffer from heart problems , liver problems , hair loss, and other health conditions.

An important component of cat food is taurine. Taurine is added to all commercial cat foods but is not added to dog food. Without taurine a cat will go blind.

Dog food contains beta carotene as Vitamin A; cats cannot process beta carotene which is fat soluble, meaning it stays in the body. If a cat has too much Vitamin A built up in its body it can suffer from serious health conditions including spinal hardening (stiff neck, painful walking, muscle degeneration). Cat food contains a different type of Vitamin A, known as retinol.

Cats also need arachidonic acid which is not found in dog food.

Typically dog food is larger than cat food, and as such is harder for a cat to eat in the first place.


Clearly dry dog food does not meet the nutritional requirements for a true carnivore like a cat. Dog food may be given to a cat in an emergency such as if you run out of cat food, or find a starving stray cat and need to feed it until you can take it tothe shelter, but should never be a major part of your cat’s diet.

Article written based on author’s knowledge of pet food as gained through owning her own pet supply store as well as working with cats and dogs in general. Also this source on Vitamin A.

This article was originally published by me on Experts Pages .

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LoudMan wrote on June 14, 2014, 12:00 PM

I know my dog LOVES cat food, though.

marleysa wrote on June 14, 2014, 12:14 PM

My cats raid the dog's food bowl every day and the dog raids