Dear Tabby: Can my Cat Live on Dog Food?

deartabbyDear Tabby,
I live on a limited budget and have three dogs and a cat. I hate having to buy dog food AND cat food. Can’t my cat just eat the dog food?
Thrifty Cat Owner

Little dog maltese and black and white cat eating food from a bowl in home
Dear Thrifty,
While you might think it’s a good economical move to feed your cat the dog food, it’s not a solution. Cats are carnivores and need a much higher level of protein than dogs do and the dog food will not provide that for your cat.
Cat’s also need an amino acid called Taurine. Dog food does not usually contain it as dogs can manufacture it on their own. A cat lacking in Taurine is susceptible to a devastating heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
In addition, cats need Vitamin A, while dogs can create Vitamin A from beta-carotene, so it may not be supplied in their foods.
While an occasional meal or snack on dog food will not harm your cat, dog food is deficient in nutrients that are essential for your cats health, so it is not a viable long term food source for your cat.
Dear Tabby

Additional Resources:
Why dog food is not for cats…and vice versa

Is it Dangerous for Cats to Eat Dog Food?




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  1. Cat bro Bert does love to steal our dog food…no surprise there…but he also makes sure to eat all his cat food too!
    Emma recently posted…Is Fifty Nifty? Happy Birthday, Mom!My Profile

  2. Skeeter has never been much interested in the dogs’ food. However, the dogs LOVE hers!
    Sue recently posted…Paws Up for Bugsy’s Box Dog Treats and Toys | Product ReviewMy Profile

  3. Great post. Dog food definitely does not give kitties what they need, that’s for sure.
    Although, I do catch my youngest kitty nibbling out of the dog food bowls quite often!
    xx husky hugz
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Never let your dog sleep in your bed – DEBUNKED!My Profile

    • A nibble here and there is fine…it can be quite tasty as long as they get the food and nutrients they need from cat food.
      KitKat recently posted…Dear Tabby: Can my Cat Live on Dog Food?My Profile

  4. from what I understand, if enough is ingested of either food (cat eating dog food and vice versa) the animal can become quite ill.
    Caren Gittleman recently posted…Rachael Ray™ Nutrish™ Embarks on 16 City Tour to Capture the True Beauty of Shelter Cats! #ShelterCatsAreBeautiful !My Profile

  5. This was a great post that people need to see. If your cat isn’t a outside cat that can eat mice and get it’s taurine intake they need to eat cat food. We once had a cat that only ate chicken meat and it had no bone density at all, you could hardly see the little bones on a xray, sad.
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