Can my cat eat dog food?

If that's all you're feeding your cat, then the answer to this is NO! Cats cannot survive on dog food alone. This is because of a nutrient called "taurine" - dogs can synthesize it on their own, and it is found in the tissue of animals. Cats, however, can't - in the wild, they get taurine from eating other animals. Dog food generally does not contain taurine, but nearly all cat food is supplemented with it. If you try to feed your cat only dog food, your cat will have serious, potentially fatal health problems. Many cats go blind without taurine, and most have heart problems. There are also several other nutrients that cats need that are only in cat food as supplements - a different form of vitamin A (dogs use a different kind), and arachidonic acid, a fatty acid cats need that is supplemented into cat food.


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If your cat eats some dog kibble or wet dog food once in awhile, that's not a problem. There is nothing in dog food that can actually hurt the cat - the problem is if your cat is not eating cat food for the bulk of its diet. If you have both cats and dogs, they will often just eat each other's food. It's easy to keep cats from eating the kibble - there are many dog food brands that are made of larger chunks, so get one of those so that the cat can't eat it as easily. For wet, canned food it's harder because cats may like the taste. If that's a problem, then give the cats wet food too, but put it someplace high that only they can get at - on a counter or a table. Then feed both dogs and cats at the same time. You should be able to keep the cat eating only its food that way.

For the reverse problem, dogs eating cat food, it's not such a big deal. It will cause some minor health problems, but they are things like getting fatter because cat food is richer than a dog needs and some minor digestive issues. You shouldn't feed your dog exclusively cat chow though, because it really is healthier to stick to food designed to give them the proper nutrients for their species.

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