My cat seems to only want to eat dog food

I feed Jack the Super Cat dry cat food, which he has access to 24 hours a day. He has recently taken to eating only the dogs’ food (Iams dry large chunk) - he seems to prefer it to his cat food. While it is comical to watch the cat stroll up to the dog bowl and the dogs move out of the way (Jack has a certain “Don’t fuck with me” attitude, even though he is declawed), I’m wondering if the food is good for the cat. Is there any appreciable difference - is he missing out on any nutrients he needs that he’s not getting in dog food?

Dog food has siginificantly less protein than cat food, and cats need that protein to remain healthy. You might consider bolstering your cat’s diet with wet food, or switching dry brands to get him interested in hs own food again. Here’s a good site about pet food nutrition.

Thanks for the info. I suspected as much, but he (the cat) still seems as healthy as ever. Time to piss him off, I suppose.

The risk from insufficient protein is a long-term one; it will take some time (probably at least a few months) for it to show up in your cats’ health. Possibly even longer if he was in good condition to start with.

You needn’t worry that this has done any serious harm to his health at this point.

Dog food is also (usually) lacking in an essential amino acid known as taurine. Without adequate taurine, cats can develop an enlarged heart. Taurine deficiency was a pretty big killer of cats before it was discovered in the mid 1980’s.

Some dog food has taurine supplemented to it, but not all. Dogs don’t appear to need it, so not all manufacturers bother.

Short answer: The cat needs to eat cat food.

It sounds like your cat is just being a dick and eating the dog’s food because the dog lets him get away with it and maybe because he doesn’t particularly like his cat food.


  1. Change flavors of food and see if there is something the cat likes better
  2. Give the dog defined meal times and feed the dog outside or in a room. Isolate the dog from the cat while the dog is eating. The meals times, as opposed to leaving kibble out for the dog 24/7, insures the dog is hungry enough to eat everything right then, so he doesn’t have to stay isolated all the time.

If isolating the dog isn’t possible (like you live in a one room apartment or something), then find a wet food or other treat type food that the cat likes and give him that at meal times so he is distracted and the dog can eat in peace.

Good luck

My cat’s breath smells like dog food.

^What Pullet said.

crumbles up and discards long winded answer

:frowning: I’m sorry! You’re a much better authority than me, anyhow. We need a little tracker thing to see who’s signed on to the forum at any given time.

No, no. Your answer was perfect. Plus you called the cat a dick! :eek:


The same would apply for the cat, eh? Free feeding can lead to obesity/picky eating habits.

Try putting the cat food in the dog’s dish.


Maybe I can do this veterinarian thing.


With better word choice when talking to clients in person. :smiley:

Is this true, that a dry food only diet places stress on the kidneys? Am I sentencing my poor kitties to death by feeding them 95% dry food?

I was told (by a parent, who was told by a vet) that our cat’s blindness was caused by his eating (only) dog food. Any possible truth to this? I mean, while we have you vet types here, we might as well plague you with a dozen questions, right? :smiley:

Obesity, sure. Pickiness? I’ve never heard of a cat with normal eating habits becoming picky because food was out all the time. (Wadda you say, Vetbridge??)

Sometimes they get sick of one flavor of food. My cats, who are on meal times, occasionally get tired of a flavor. I can usually tell because they’ll try to bury the food dish as if it was literally a pile of crap. If I switch to a different flavor for a while, they’re ok. They even go back to the first flavor after few days.

But yeah, meal times for everyone make it easier to control and monitor how much they are eating and what they are eating.

Side note: Cat food given to the dog isn’t as harmful, nutritionally speaking. It is rather protein rich for the dog and can cause problems on that end (stinky feces, kidney issues), but it’s not as worrisome as dog food given to the cat.

I’m not a vet, but I think it’s true that deprived of taurine a cat can develop blindness, among other things (like death, eventually).

Feline progressive retinal atrophy can be caused by a diet without enough taurine.


ETA: Taurine deficiency also causes heart problems that lead to death, as alluded to by post before mine.

Yup. Here’s a link.

Also, cats that have high blood pressure (a possible side effect of having a dilated heart or kidney failure) can suddenly become blind when the pressure in the vessels of their retinas cuts off the nerves.

On preview: Curses! Beat to it. I’ll go back to my books now.

I’d agree. I’d also point out that “finickiness” is something people create. If I want my cat to eat Brand X, that is what I feed. If she skips a meal or two, fine. I don’t want her to think that her turning away from the dish is all that’s needed to make me switch foods.

My understanding is that dry food is only stressful on the cat’s body because it doesn’t have a lot of moisture. If you cat is otherwise having kidney problems, it needs to stay hydrated to ease the workload of the kidneys. If the cat doesn’t feel well on account of the kidney problems, and the little bit of anything that it eats is dry food, it will dehydrate itself.

If the cat has willing to eat wet food, then it will help keep it’s hydration up at the same time.

The only reasons I’ve heard to give an otherwise healthy cat wet food is as a treat and to make sure it likes wet food in case it becomes sick later.