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Cat Ate Dog Food (Now What? Is it Dangerous/Toxic?)

If you have seen your cat eating your dog’s food you may be wondering why this happened and if the dogs’ food is dangerous for them.

Why did my cat eat dog food?

Your cat ate dog food because for some cats it smells delicious and tempting. The texture of dog food is not far from cat food and is quite a meaty dish, which cats love. They also appreciate the fact that it is wet as well, which is appealing.

So, now you know why this has happened. But, is a cat and dog’s diet different? Why is it important for your cat to stick to cat food? What can you substitute your cat’s food with if you run out? Keep reading for these answers and so much more.


Is dog food dangerous for cats?

Cat ate dog food.

Cat ate dog food.

For short-term use, dog food is not dangerous for cats. Some cat owners are even known to use it as a stop-gap when they run out of cat food. Whilst this is not ideal, it can be done. However, on a long term basis, it is not recommended (more on this later).

If your cat has consumed dog food for the first time it is natural to be worried about it and wonder if it’s dangerous, or toxic. So, now you have learned that this is not the case.

Why do cats need to stick to cat food?

Cats need to stick to cat food because it is specifically formulated for their bodies and needs. Meaning, it is a well-balanced diet for them. In particular, more vitamins, protein, etc.

If you have ever wondered why cats should stick to cat food, hopefully now it is clear why. Obviously, it is possible to fed cats other food (more on this later), but cat food is a good bet. Especially if you are a new cat owner.

Is a cat and dog’s diet different?

Cat food and dog food is different. Cat food has taurine, vitamins such as A, B & C. In addition to this, it has healthy fats. Hence the reason why cats benefit from sticking to the food formulated for them.

Understanding your cat’s diet is important so you can appreciate the benefit of what you are buying it. So, you have now learned the key difference and why dog food is not the correct long-term choice.

Can cats eat dog food for a couple of days?

Eating dog food for a couple of days is ok for cats. And, arguably, they could go on for a bit longer. But, it should never take over their staple cat food. Think of it as a one-off, accident, or rare stop-gap until you get cat food back in stock.

If you have ever run out of cat food and fed your cat dog food you may have been worried, wondering if you made the right choice. But, now you know, a couple of days is not the end of the world, but not something that should become a habit.

What can I feed my cat if I run out of food?

You can feed your cat cooked meats in the absence of cat food. Such as cooked chicken (Click here to see why you should avoid the bones though), turkey, etc. However, unless you are a specialist in cat nutrition you should stick to formulated cat food.

Cats are natural carnivores so they appreciate meat. Some people find this hard to accept, especially if they are not fans of meat consumption, but cats will naturally gravitate to meat for a reason.

Running out of cat food is not ideal, but at least you now know there are some other options if you need it. But it should not replace conventional cat food.

What can happen if you keep feeding your cat dog food?

If you persist in feeding your cat dog food, over and over again, it can lead to health issues. In particular, skin or coat deficiencies, issues with their digestion. Or, mineral-related deficiencies. And, this is not an exhaustive list.

This is why it’s important to stick to their conventional cat food. If you have ever wondered what the consequences were, now it should be clear.

What foods are toxic to cats?

Many foods can be toxic to a cat. But, some of the key ones to watch out for are onions, scallions, garlic, or shallots. In small doses, they are regarded as toxic for cats. However, if you keep feeding your cat these in large amounts they could be classed as poisonous.

If you are curious or generally quite cautious, and keen to understand what foods your cat should avoid then hopefully this section has helped you to understand some foods to avoid for your cat.

Why might your cat be tempted by dog food?

Your cat could be tempted by dog food by the smell of it. It has a strong, meaty smell. And, it also has a tasty, gravy texture that some cats find too tempting. Also, if your cat is unhappy with its cat food it may look around and see your dog’s food as a better option.

If your cat is continually eating your dog’s food, you may have been wondering why on earth it would desire your dog’s food, right? Well, now you should understand, from your cat’s perspective.

Do cats have the same taste buds as dogs?

Cats and dogs (Can a dog live with a Maine Coon? Click here) have different taste buds. In particular, dogs have approximately three times more taste buds than cats. And, to put this in perspective, we humans have over 18 times more than cats. This is one of the reasons why cats cannot appreciate sweet-tasting food as we do.

If you have caught your cat eating your dog’s food you may wonder if they appreciate the same tastes and flavors. So, now you have learned how their taste buds compare to dogs and us humans.

Do cats need more protein than dogs?

Cats need more protein than dogs because they are known as obligate carnivores. This basically means that they must eat meat to survive, instead of “they can” eat meat. Are you with me?

This is different from dogs who do not require as much protein as cats need. So, if you have ever wondered if cats need more protein, this should now be clear to you.

Does Dog Food have enough moisture for cats?

Dog food is not designed to have as much moisture as cat food. Cat food is purposely full of moisture to meet their need for hydration through their food.

As you may have seen before, cats drink a lot of water from their bowls, right? And, cats, not so much. In fact, it can be a struggle to get a cat to drink enough in a day. This is the reason why some cat owners use cat water fountains (Click here to see my best one).

This is the reason why cat food, or shall I say wet cat food (Click here if you are struggling to get your cat to consume wet cat food), is so moist. It helps cats to fulfill their daily water intake needed to survive.

So, if you have ever wondered if cats can draw enough moisture from dog food you should now understand the answer.

Lindsey Browlingdon