Your dogs look like they are enjoying their food, while your small cat looks on with sad eyes.
Can cats, on the other hand, eat dog food? If you have more than one pet of a different species, it might be hard to figure out what to feed them.
Can Cats Eat Puppy Food?
Cats are “obligate carnivores,” which means that most of their food must come from animal sources. Too many carbs or fats in your diet may be harmful to your health.
What do cats need to eat?
Like other meat-eaters, cats need foods that are high in protein, fat, and taurine. The Cornell Feline Health Center says that cats need:
- Protein from meat or fish
- Amino acids like taurine and arginine (from meat or fish)
- Fatty acids
Many veterinarians think that between 35 and 45% of a cat’s diet should be made up of protein.
What is cat food made of?
Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM, a small animal and exotic animal vet in east Texas and a veterinary consultant for doglab.com, says that cats need food with taurine in it.
Taurine is an amino acid that is needed for the heart to work right, to see well, and to reproduce. Taurine can only be found in animal proteins, so all cats need to eat meat to meet their nutritional needs.
There is a lot of protein, calories, and fat in cat food, and it also has the right amount of taurine. Patrick Mahaney, DVM, explains on PetSafe what healthy cat food looks like:
- Natural, whole-food ingredients
- High-quality animal proteins (at least 30%)
- Healthy, animal-based fats (about 15% to 20%)
- Digestible carbohydrates and fiber
- Essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids
- No by-products, fillers, or artificial additives
Best Foods for Kittens
Kittens have different dietary needs than adult cats, so they need food that is made just for them.
For a kitten to grow quickly, it needs to eat a lot of protein and fat. It’s also important to choose a formula that gives kittens all the nutrients they need for healthy growth.
Cats and Dogs Have Different Nutritional Needs
Even though dogs and cats live in the same homes and are loved by the same people, they are very different animals with very different dietary needs.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that all of their bodily systems work best when they eat meat-based proteins and animal fats.
On the other hand, dogs eat everything. The diet of an omnivore is more flexible because they can eat both meat and plants. Cats can’t get all of the nutrients they need from dog food.
Differences Between Cat Food and Dog Food
Here are a few important ways that dog food and cat food are made differently.
Cats and dogs taste things in different ways. Dogs can taste sweetness, but cats can’t, and the number of taste receptors in each species is different.
Dogs have 1700 taste buds, but cats only have 470. (Humans have about
Cat food is made to look and smell very tasty so that our sometimes picky (and tasteless) feline friends will eat it.
*On a side note, cats aren’t likely to eat dog food because it doesn’t taste good to them. Dogs, on the other hand, adore cat food because it is tasty and high in protein.
Some brands and types of dog food have more protein than others, but even these “specialty” dog foods don’t have enough protein to keep cats healthy.
Most dog foods have between 18% and 26% protein. For cats, on the other hand, I usually suggest aiming for a protein content of 30–34% “as-fed,” with canned cat food with 40–50% protein as an optional extra.
Cats and humans are two of the few mammals that can’t make taurine on their own. This means they have to get this important nutrient from what they eat.
When cats don’t get enough taurine in their food, they can:
- Heart problems (dilated cardiomyopathy)
- Visual impairment
- Having trouble digesting
Taurine is now added to all commercially sold cat food, but it is rarely added to dog food.
Cats with low levels of arachidonic acid show vague signs of illness, such as:
- Liver and kidney function problems
- There are times when skin problems get worse.
This fatty acid is rarely added to dog food because dogs can make it themselves.
Vitamin A is another important nutrient that cats can’t make on their own and must get from their food.
Vitamin A supplements are often added to dog food, but they are never enough for a cat to get the best nutrition.
Cats who don’t get enough vitamin A will:
- Coats that aren’t very good
- Muscle degeneration and weakness
- There is a chance of going blind at night.
Niacin has to be in a cat’s diet because cats can’t make it on their own.
Most of a cat’s niacin comes from animal tissue, but there are small amounts in plants as well. But a meal with less animal tissue and more plant tissue, like grains, might not give cats the right amount of niacin.
Life Stage Is Also Important
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a non-profit group that keeps a close eye on the pet food market and regulates it.
The following label will be on pet foods that meet the AAFCO’s nationally agreed-upon nutritional standards: “…formulated to meet the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profile for (a life stage).”
In the pet food business, there are three types of life stages:
- Every part of life
Cats have different protein, vitamin, and overall dietary needs that change as they grow.
Because it has less protein and other nutrients, dog food can’t keep a cat alive at any stage of its life.
A High-Quality Cat Food Is Essential
The best way to make sure our cats stick around for a long time is to feed them a healthy, high-quality diet that is made just for cats.
Even though eating a few kibbles of dog food won’t hurt, it’s not made to meet the nutritional needs of cats.
How Often Should I Feed My Cat?
How often your cat eats depends on how old it is, how much it weighs, and how much it moves around.
Kittens under four months old should be fed three to four times a day, while older cats usually only need to be fed once or twice a day. Talk to your vet if you aren’t sure how often to feed your cat.
In general, dry food should be free-fed, and wet food should be given as meals or snacks. This will help make sure your cat gets the food he or she needs and keep it from getting too fat.
Benefits of Raw Diet For Cats
Raw foods can also give cats a wider range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients than regular cat food.
Can Cats Eat Dog Treats?
Most dog treats are not good for cats because they have a lot of carbohydrates. But a few companies, like Ziwi Peak and Cloud Star, make dog treats that are also safe for cats.
If you give your cat a dog treat, check the list of ingredients carefully to make sure it doesn’t have any harmful ingredients.
Transitioning a Cat to New Food
The best way to introduce a new food to your cat is to do it slowly over a period of 7–10 days.
Start by adding a small amount of the new food to their current diet. Gradually increase the amount of the new food until they only eat the new diet.
During the transition period, if you have stomach problems like vomiting or diarrhea, you should talk to your vet.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t make big changes to your cat’s food. Cats are creatures of habit and do best when they have a set routine. So, if you need to change their meals, do it carefully and with care.
Common Cat Feeding Mistakes
One of the most common mistakes people make when feeding their cats is letting them eat dry food as much as they want.
Another common mistake is giving table scraps to cats. Some people think it’s okay to let their cat try a piece of meat or cheese, but it’s not.
Cats can only eat meat, so they need to eat a high-protein diet. If you give them table scraps, it could throw off their delicate nutritional balance and cause health problems for your cat in the long run.
Last but not least, many people make the mistake of changing their cat’s food too often. Even though it’s important to feed your cat something it likes and that meets its nutritional needs, you don’t have to change things up all the time.
Is Your Cat Malnourished or Overweight?
Talk to your vet if you aren’t sure if your cat is too fat or not getting enough food. They can help you check your cat’s physical health and tell you what to feed it.
Cats that are too fat have a thick waist, a big stomach, and skin that is loose. They might also be less active than competitors with less body fat.
Malnourished cats, on the other hand, are often thin and have their ribs and hips sticking out. There may also be a dull coat, a loss of muscle mass, and strange behaviour.
If you think your cat is overweight or not getting enough food, don’t be afraid to talk to your vet. A healthy weight is important for your cat’s health in general.
Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats
If your cat only throws up once or twice and doesn’t look like it hurts, you might decide to wait and see if it stops on its own. If your cat keeps throwing up or seems to be in pain, please take it to the vet as soon as possible.
Diarrhea can also be a sign of a serious illness, so you should call your vet if your cat has loose stools or more than two episodes of diarrhea in 24 hours. You should take your cat to the vet right away if it is straining to poop or if there is blood in its poop.
Vomiting and diarrhea often lead to dehydration, so make sure your cat always has water to drink. Give your cat small amounts of water on a regular basis, and give it wet or canned food instead of dry food to get it to drink.
You can also keep your pet from getting dehydrated by buying oral rehydration treatments at a pet store near you or online.
Most of the time, vomiting and diarrhea go away on their own with some easy care at home. But if your cat’s condition doesn’t get better or seems to be getting worse, please call your vet as soon as you can.
What if my cat accidentally eats dog food?
Don’t worry if your cat accidentally eats your dog’s food.
Dog food isn’t bad for cats, but it shouldn’t be used as their main source of nutrition. Even though it’s not the best food for them, cats can eat dog food without getting sick.
Dr. Ochoa says that you can feed your cat dog food if you are in an emergency, forgot to go to the store to get more cat food, and all you have is dog food. She says you shouldn’t worry if your cat steals a few pieces of food from your dog’s bowl.
VCA Animal Hospitals says that cats need taurine for good vision, digestion, heart health, the development of the fetus, and a strong immune system.
What if my dog eats my cat’s food?
Mealtimes can be stressful in homes with more than one animal. Dogs drool over things, and cats hang around bowls. Is it okay for everyone in the family to take a bite out of each other’s bowls if they can?
In theory, a dog could live on cat food alone, but the American Kennel Club says it’s not a good idea.
The amount of calories, the amount of protein, and the amount of fat are not good for a dog’s digestive system. This can lead to obesity or pancreatitis.
Your dog can eat some of your cat’s food without getting sick, but eating mostly cat food won’t give them the balanced nutrition they need.
How do I feed my multi-pet household?
Cats and dogs can live together without fighting, but their food bowls can’t be mixed. The easiest way to feed your cats and dogs is to give them their own places to eat.
Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviour expert for Rover, says that you should give each animal in your home its own feeding dish and keep them in different rooms.
She says, “Remember that cats hunt small animals that they don’t share.” “Eating together is a tradition for us, but cats don’t do that.”
What food is poisonous to cats?
Cats should stay away from chocolate and onions because they both have chemicals that are bad for them.
Even though kittens drink their mothers’ milk when they are very young, cow’s milk isn’t good for cats and could make your cat sick if it can’t digest it well.
Can cats eat dog food for a couple days?
Dog food is not a good long-term food for cats because it doesn’t have the protein and healthy fats that cats need to stay strong and healthy. These nutrients are mostly found in meat.
Dog food has extra nutrients, like more carbs, that dogs need but cats don’t. These nutrients may even be harmful in high doses or when eaten for a long time.
Even if your cat eats a little of your dog’s food, it won’t hurt them. However, if they eat dog food all the time, it can cause them to lose weight.
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