Is dog food bad for cats?

Technically, cats can eat a small amount of dog food as a one-off, so don’t worry if your cat swipes a mouthful from your dog’s bowl. However, cats should not eat dog food often, and certainly not as a substitute for specially designed cat food.  

Cats are obligate carnivores and can get all the nutrients they need from animal-based proteins and fats. Dogs are omnivores and eat meat in conjunction with grains and vegetables. Eating dog food too often could cause serious dietary deficiencies and can make your cat seriously ill 

Support your cat’s good health and boost their chance of living a long and happy life by feeding them high-quality food, designed specifically for felines.  


Can cats eat dog treats?

Try to avoid feeding dog treats to your catDog treats are designed specifically for dogs and may have ingredients that are toxic to cats, such as ethylene glycol.  

Speak to your vet about the best treats and snacks to feed your cat.  

Can cats eat dog food in an emergency?

Dog food isn’t poisonous to cats, so they can technically eat it on a one-time basis. If you’re out of cat food and forgot to pick it up while the shops were open, it’s okay to feed your cat a small amount of dog food. Just avoid doing so on a regular basis, or it could lead to nutrient deficiencies. 

How to stop your cat eating dog food

If this is an issue, try feeding your pets separately. Different rooms would be ideal but if you’re unable to do this, try supervising both of your pets during mealtimes to make sure everyone’s eating their own food. 

Cat food often has a stronger taste than dog food. Your dog is probably more likely to sniff around your cat’s bowl than the other way around.

can cats eat dog food?
A cat's diet should consist of a high-quality food, designed specifically for felines.

What should I feed my cat?

Your cat should enjoy a high-quality diet, designed specifically for felines. 

There are many different cat diets on the market, some of much better quality than others. Your vet will be able to help if you’re spoilt for choice, or you can speak to one of our video vets for instant advice.  

What’s in cat food (that isn’t in dog food)?

Compared to dog food, cat food is likely to be higher in:  

  • protein 
  • vitamin A 
  • arachidonic acid 
  • niacin 
  • flavour 

While certain nutrients may be found in both dog and cat food, it’s the concentration that’s important.  


As carnivores, cats get a lot of their energy from protein and need more of it in their diet compared to dogs, who are omnivores. Cats can’t produce taurine and arginine, these essential amino acids are added to cat food, but not dog food. Taurine deficiency in cats can cause heart problems, digestive trouble, and even blindness.  

Vitamin A

Both dog and cat food have vitamin A, but cat food has a lot more because cats can’t produce vitamin A on their own while dogs can. Eating dog food for too long could cause your cat to suffer a vitamin A deficiency, which can weaken their muscles, coat and eyesight.  

Arachidonic acid and niacin

Dogs can produce arachidonic acid, but cats can’t. This essential fatty acid is found in cat food, but not in dog food.  

Niacin is found in animal tissue. Meat-based cat diets have enough niacin while dog food, which has a balance of meat, grains and vegetables, often does not.  


Cat food is usually made palatable so that it appeals to fussy cats. 

With only 470 taste buds, cats are nowhere near as sensitive to taste and flavour as dogs – who have around 1,700 If anything, this makes dogs more likely to steal the cat’s food than the other way around 

How many calories does a cat need per day?

Cats need roughly 24-35 calories a day for every pound of bodyweight.  

This is broadly similar to dogs’ calorie needs, but it’s important to remember that cats derive most of their energy from animalbased proteins and fats while dogs get their energy from a combination of meat and vegetables.

Other than dog food, what should cats not eat?

It’s best for everything your cat eats to be designed specifically for cats and their dietary needs.  

Cats can enjoy tuna and other tinned fish on occasion, but tuna should not replace a specially designed cat food because it’s low in various essential vitamins and minerals.  

Chocolate, alcohol, dairy products, raw meat, raw fish, eggs, bread, onions and garlic should be avoided altogether. The same goes for sugary and sugar-free sweets.  

Read more: 8 human foods that are poisonous to cats.

Is cat food bad for dogs?

With its high fat, protein and calorie count, it’s best to avoid feeding cat food to your dog 

If your dog ate cat food regularly, they’d be at an increased risk of obesity and pancreatitisThat said, just like as with cats eating a small amount of dog food as a one-off, cat food isn’t poisonous to dogs-disastrous consequences are unlikely to occur if your dog eats a small amount of cat food every now and again.