Cat prefers dog food, how dangerous?

We just got a great little kitten. We also have a dog. I was fully prepared to sequester the cat food from the dog, since I know from experience that cat food is yummy for dogs but not very healthy (gives dogs urinary problems from high protein levels in cat food).

But I’ve run into an unexpected problem: the cat loves the dog’s food way more than the food we got for him. We got a fancy brand that the store said cats love, but he turns his nose up to it and goes to the dog’s bowl. There’s no way to hide the dog food from the cat! [They are both eating dry food, for the record].

I will try a new cat food brand to see if it helps. I’m fine with adding some expensive canned food to the cat’s diet if needed. But say he continues to eat the dog’s food in substantial amounts, how bad is it for him?

Cats need way more protein than dogs do, and I would be especially worried about them getting enough protein as a developing kitten.

Cat food is enriched with taurine because cats who don’t get taurine can go blind.
At the very least, you might want to look into switching your dog’s food to one that has taurine in it. A few of the natural food pet food manufacturers make food that it is intended for both dogs and cats.

Pics Please!

Cats can be very picky about what food they eat, and there is probably something in that dog food that satisfies your kitten more than the expensive cat food. Mine will ONLY eat indoor formula Cat Chow. They refuse any fish flavored food too, so I get them canned Friskies (2 for a buck, baby!) liver and chicken flavor a few times a week. Anything else gets knocked on to the floor and batted into the hall. It may not be the highest quality but they’ve all survived years on it and they’re all healthy and active. Your kitten needs kitten formula, for sure, but I wonder if it’s not flavorful like dog food because it’s so mild.

This dangerous.

You may need to try several cat foods to find one that works for kitty. Cost doesn’t mean much here. Differing types of food do. I have one that likes almost exclusively Meowmix seafood, both dry and moist. It may also be good to change your dog’s diet to something that the cat is less fond of.

Thread winner here :slight_smile:

OP, I wouldn’t let a kitten eat dog food. Cats are obligate carnivores and dogs are garbage guts…errr… omnivores. Dog food is too low in protein and too high in carbs to be good for cats on a daily basis. (Not to mention the above mentioned taurine issue.)

I’m pretty picky about what I feed our cats because I’m the one who cleans the litter boxes. GIGO is an important thing to remember when feeding cats.

We once had a small calico cat named Jo-Jo. She would eat dog food, fresh-caught fish, candy, cake, ice cream, cereal, any kind of people food. She would not eat cat food! :eek: She was a healthy little cat and bore seven kittens (in 3 litters). :slight_smile:

Cats, like people, will enjoy junk food. I think that’s what dog food is like for them.

But yeah, cats really need higher protein levels plus taurine. Lack of taurine can (will?) cause cardiomyopathy and/or eye problems. My vet suggested a lack of taurine might be why one of my cats (adopted from a shelter) has a heart murmur and a missing tapetum lucidum on one eye. The last is noticeable because his eyes reflect different colors: green for the normal eye, red for the one missing the tapetum lucidum.

Dangit, you guys are terrible at telling me what I want to hear. OK, I’m convinced. Pain in the ass! But I guess if I wanted things simple I wouldn’t have pets & kids. Plus I seriously think we scored the awesomest kitty ever, so I owe a bit of a karmic debt.

Although a barking cat would be pretty sweet…

Well, just think of it this way: A good diet now might be a pain, but if it prevents obesity and diabetes and heart and eye problems, it will save you pain later!

Could you feed the dog outside, at least maybe for a while?

Problem is, he’s liable to dig the yard if he’s outside unsupervised for very long, and watching him while he eats his whole meal is not gonna happen.

Another option I considered is giving the dog limited amounts of food so that it’s all gone when he’s done. (He’s a great self-regulator and up to now we’ve just left food in the bowl at all times.) That’s what we’re doing for now, hoping that the cat will get accustomed to eating his food instead.

If this fails, I think I’ll plan on feeding the cat enough wet food (which he loves) so that he’s adequately fed on it, then if he wants to snack on dog food so be it. Will a little supplemental dog food hurt him? It’s not like frankly dangerous to him, is it?

Ah, thank you!

We indeed had a blind cat, and I remembered the vet saying it was because he ate dog food, but I never learned why. Now I know.

So yes, I can give you a first hand account of a cat made blind due to eating cat food. He was also deaf, but I don’t think that was dog food related. He also had no whiskers, but that was not dog food related, either - it was dog related, as the dog’s hobby was chewing off the cat’s whiskers, and the cat encouraged it. The deaf, blind, whiskerless cat was still the best mouser I’ve ever had.

But I wouldn’t suggest you let your cat eat dog food, no.

Arch didn’t need to bark. His loud cat yowls (we could hear him inside the house!) showed dogs he meant business, and he was mighty fast with those teeth and claws. Dogs learned to stay away from him. He was the Big Cheese on the block. :slight_smile:

One of my cats is like a pescetarian. Does not care for the humans’ meat. If I get her new dry food or new wet food, especially non-fish, she will turn up her nose. But the next day she will be hungry enough to eat it, then continue eating it. If I switch food

I don’t know for sure, but I speculate that one male’s relative lack of whiskers is because the above aggressively grooms him. Actually my biggest cat has the smallest whiskers, and the smallest (by far) has the biggest relative to her size but also maybe absolute.

Wet food. If wet dog food is preferable, mix the two together. Change the ratios slowly but you can also try this with dog food. Sometimes our dog doesn’t eat his dry food so we mix him. He eats anything foodlike that fits in his mouth but not always.
Are you free feeding the dog? Any way you can change that (maybe not)? Dog the dog care about cat food? A pet gate should be good at keeping the dog out, unless it’s some springy terrier breed.
Some stores may allow you to return the unused portion if you have a receipt. This doesn’t work if it’s 90% gone, obviously.

It wouldn’t hurt to feed your dog twice a day. Put the food down and take it up after 10 minutes. He’ll learn to eat at mealtimes and the kitten won’t have access to his food.


The dog and I let my 15-year-old cat nibble out of the dog’s bowl (so cute when the dog shared) but that was because:

• The dog food was high-protein and contained taurine. But also, the cat was supposed to be on a low-protein diet because he was in kidney failure.
• That wasn’t the only sum total of the cat’s diet.
•The cat was dying – he had a cancerous tumor and was wasting away – so I was happy if he could eat anything at all. It got to the point where I was cooking chicken just for him. Shortly after that, I said goodbye, poor kitty.

One of my clients had a cat that ate dog food and he lived to be 18 or so.
He got canned cat food twice a day but he was a big fat hungry cat and he snacked on dog food all day. Other than being overweight he was healthy.