Whether you’re struggling to keep your cats and dogs apart at feeding time, or you’re wondering if you can feed the same food to all your pets, many owners ask, “can a cat eat dog food?”. Read on to find out the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about cats and dog food…
Can I feed my cat dog food?
If you’re wondering, “can a cat eat dog food?” the short answer is no. Dogs and cats each have their own nutritional needs, and so will need a diet made specifically for them. So, our advice would always to be to avoid feeding dog food to your cat long-term, as canine food won’t meet your moggie’s nutritional needs.
One big difference between dogs and cats is that dogs are omnivorous animals, whereas cats are “obligate carnivores”, meaning that they will always need to eat meat. This means that good quality feline diets will often contain more animal proteins and less vegetables than canine diets, and dog foods may not contain some of the important nutrients that cats need – for example, taurine and arachidonic acid. This means that feeding your cat dog food over a prolonged period can lead to nutritional deficiencies, as well as more serious health problems.
However, if your cat does manage to steal a mouthful or dog food every now and again, there is no need to worry as this usually won’t be a problem.
What food should I feed my cat?
The phrase “you are what you eat” definitely rings true for pets as well as humans, so we would always recommend feeding your cat a high-quality, species-specific diet that is suitable for their life stage (for most food brands this will include a kitten, adult and senior food – or equivalents). If you’re not sure which cat food brands are best, or which feline diet is suitable for your cat, it’s always best to speak to a veterinary professional for advice.
What about feline prescription diets?
There are also a variety of prescription cat food diets that are suitable for certain conditions – for example, kidney problems or diabetes. However, we would always recommend speaking to your vet before starting your cat on one of these diets, as they may not meet the needs of every feline with a particular condition.
How do I stop my cat from stealing dog food?
It can be really tricky to stop your cat from stealing a mouthful of food out of your dog’s bowl, as cats are known for being very sneaky! As we’ve mentioned, if your cat does occasionally manage to get hold of a mouthful of dog food, this normally isn’t a problem, but if this is happening on a regular basis, here are a few tips to try and prevent it:
- Keep pets separate
It’s best to try and feed your pets separately where possible. Not only does this prevent cats from eating dog food (and vice versa), it can also stop greedy animals from continually stealing from the other pets they live with, and this can also avoid squabbling or bullying surrounding food.
Often, the easiest way to separate your pets at feeding time is to put them in separate rooms until they have all finished eating or, if this isn’t possible, you can also try staggering their feeding times.
- Cat feeding boxes
If you aren’t always around to separate or monitor your pets while they’re eating, cat feeding boxes are a great option for keeping larger dogs away. These boxes are big enough for your cat to climb inside, but small enough to prevent your dog from trying to share their meal! By placing your cat’s food inside the meal box, it will provide them with a safe space where they can eat without interference.
It’s also possible to train your dog or cat not to go near the food bowls of other pets (although this is often trickier to do with cats!).
So, that’s our answer to the question “can a cat eat dog food?”. For more advice on cat feeding, visit our advice page.