If you’re staring at an empty bag of cat food and don’t have time to run to the store, it might get you wondering—can cats eat dog food?
Dog food is a safe replacement for cats in the short term. However, many other more protein-rich foods are better for cats, including chicken and meat.
There are several reasons for this, all of which fall under the umbrella reason of dogs and cats having different nutritional requirements.
Can Cats Eat Dog Food Temporarily?
It’s safe to feed your cat dog food as a temporary replacement. Dog food will serve the role of helping to keep your cat full while you work on obtaining more cat food.
However, it’s dangerous to feed your cat dog food over the long term. That’s because cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they rely on a pure protein diet, given that their bodies can’t digest plants.
In contrast, dogs are omnivores. So, they can eat the sweet potato and beans you see advertised on Fido’s dog food, and don’t require as high of a protein intake as cats.
Other nutrients that your cat needs and won’t be able to get enough of from dog food include:
- Arachidonic acid
- Vitamin A
In fact, cats are one of the only mammals that can’t synthesize enough of their own taurine, an amino acid that aids in organ and system functions.
Why Does My Cat Keep Eating Dog Food?
Your cat might be eating your dog’s food for several reasons, including:
- They like the taste
- The kibbles are easier for them to chew
- They’re looking for a variety
- They want to show your dog who’s boss
The bottom line is that there usually isn’t anything to be concerned about if your cat gets into your dog’s food on occasion.
However, if this is a frequent occurrence, move your dog’s food bowl where your cat can’t reach it and offer your cat other cat food options.
Dog Food Alternatives for Cats
Now that you know the answer to “Can cats eat dog food?” is “no,” below are some other options you can use when you run out of cat food.
- Raw human-grade meat without preservatives
- Lean, spice-free deli meat
- Cooked chicken, beef, or turkey
- Eggs, raw or cooked
- Liver and other animal organs
- Raw, unflavored fermented yogurt, kefir, or cheese
When giving your cat a dog food alternative, keep in mind that you should prepare the meat without salt and remove bones and excess fat. Please consult your veterinarian for questions about your cat’s health, nutrition, and food choices.