Why does my cat eat dog food?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Here’s the deal:

If you own a dog and a cat, you may come across a situation where your cat is more inclined to eat the dog’s food, instead of its own.

You may end up wondering why does my cat eat dog food?

So why does your cat eat the dog’s food? Your cat may be eating dog food for several reasons like; the smell of the dog food, the texture or maybe just because your cat wants to try something new and is getting bored of its everyday meals.

Is there something wrong with my cat that it wants to eat dog food and not its own food?

If you’re asking yourself that question, you don’t have to worry. We’ve got you covered.

Why is my cat eating dog food?

Even though you may find your cat eating a little bit of your dog’s food, it does not mean that it is sick or anything. There can be multiple reasons why your cat is behaving this way:

They like the smell

To start off, the first and the most common meaning for this act can be that your cat likes the smell of the dog food more than their own. Or in case of smell, another thing to consider is whether your dog and cat food smell too similar or not because they have more or the less same ingredients and your cat is just confused between the two kinds of food it’s seeing so frequently or finds lying closest to them.

They’re lazy

Most of the time, when cats are very hungry, they will want to get a few bites of any food they see. This will not be the case for just dog food, your cat can act the same way for your human food as well.

They like the texture

Apart from the smell, chances are that the texture of the dog food is what’s getting your cat drawn towards it. Maybe the wet feeling in the dog’s food is attracting your cat to eat it or just try out the new thing.

They’re bored of their routine food

There is a possibility that your cat just wants to try something new to eat because they are getting bored with what you are feeding them. Cats generally have a very narcissistic kind of nature and want people to treat them that way as well. Just because they are not getting a variety of food from your end, chances can be that they are eating a few bites of your dog’s food.

They’re trying to show their authority

There is also a probability that your cat wants to enforce its authority over the dog. It may just be telling the dog that it can eat whatever it wants and whenever it wants. Cats typically have their behaviour and it’s nothing to worry about.

They might not be able to differentiate

You might have a shared bowl of water for both your cat and your dog, so they both might not be able to differentiate between its own bowl and the others. If you’ve got two different pets, it’s probably best not to buy the same exact things for them.

What is the difference between cat food and dog food?

Your cat is basically a carnivore and needs to have a protein-based diet to keep it healthy. They need to have diets that are not just high in protein, but also in carbohydrates, calories, and even fat.

The cats cannot make vitamins in their bodies themselves and therefore need animal-based proteins to stay healthy. To stick to the very basics, the cats need an amino acid called taurine. They require a rather large amount of it in their diets and therefore it is found in cats’ food only. They need this amino acid to ensure their health and their wellbeing.

Whereas dogs are omnivores by nature and can easily survive on both plants and meats. You may see your dog wandering your garden and chewing on the grass. This is because they can digest the grass easily to fulfil their basic needs. Dogs can drive this taurine amino acid themselves in their body and hence is not added in dog food. Unlike cats, dogs can eat food which is plant-based and survive easily.

Apart from all this, vitamin A is one of the basic vitamins necessary for the cat. They need vitamin A in their diets either through feeding them liver in their food or by adding it in the form of supplements. The deficiency of vitamin A can cause multiple problems for your cat.

Dogs, on the other hand, can make this vitamin inside their bodies, and that is why it not added separately in dog food or in their diets.

Is dog food harmful to my cat?

If your cat is just occasionally taking a bite or two from your dog’s food, it won’t be harmful. This certainly does not mean that you can give your dog’s leftover food or that bag of dog food you bought accidentally to your cat.

Dogs and cats both belong to different species and families, and that is why dog food does not contain the vitamins and minerals needed by your cat. They need to be given proper diets or else they may become sick.

Giving dog food to cats on a regular basis can result in severe problems. They may even get malnourished because the nutrients in dog food may be plant-based which will not be sufficient for your cat at all. Taurine deficiency, an amino acid that is not found in dog food, can cause your cat blindness, deafness and heart problems etc.

Not just the taurine, but the vitamin A deficiency which will increase in your cat because of the dog food it’s eating more often can cause it to suffer from seizures, poor coat, poor posture and even death.

Can my cat snack on dog food?

Even though it can be alarming and a great cause of concern for you if your cat constantly feeds on dog food, the occasional snack will not hurt. The cats are usually hungry all the time and want to eat something or the other when it comes to food. Be it the owner’s food or the dog’s food.

Even though dog food or human food may be dangerous and unhealthy for your cat, they will still be stealing a few bites. This is just like the case of us human beings; even though we are well aware of the fact that all the fast food we eat from outside is harmful to us and our health, we will still be eating it at least once a week. Same way, dog and human food are like fast food for your cat; hence the snacking will not hurt but it certainly is unhealthy.

Still, there will be times when your cat would like to steal a bite from the dog’s food because they are inclined towards its because of the smell or the way it looks, or for the multiple other reasons stated above.

If I were a cat owner and would have my cat snacking on dog food, I would be very strict about it and would make sure that such a problem is not faced again. Dog food has no nourishment needed for my cat and the fats and minerals derived from plants and they may be dangerous for my cat’s health.

How do I stop my cat from eating dog food?

The best and the cheapest trick to make sure your cat does not eat your dog food, and your dog does not eat your cat food is SCHEDULING. Yes, you heard it right, you just have to schedule the food timings of your pets. A dog can easily survive with two meals in a day, whereas your cat would eat multiple times a day.

A cat likes to have her privacy while eating, therefore you will have to make sure that when you feed the cat, your dog is out of sight and maybe even at the ground. Same goes for cats when the dog is being fed your cat should either be kept busy in the house or simply be taken outside.

Apart from this, it is important to make sure that there are no dog food packs or the left-over food lying around within the cat’s range. Not just this, you can also make sure that you give your dog the amount of food it needs and just supervise it for a good 5-15 minutes. And as soon as they finish eating, you can take away the bowl and wash it off that very moment. Since dogs are generally quick in eating food, you can make sure that they finish their meal in front of you and your cat gets no chance to invade.

Schedule their mealtimes

Scheduling will help keep your pets full at all times and also neither of them will be intervening in each other’s mealtimes and won’t be facing the problem of obesity. And lastly, with no leftover food lying around in the house, there will be no mice or rats or any other intruders coming into your house to hang out.

If scheduling does not work for you because you have a dog that is small and wants to be fed often, you can try and make sure that your pets are both fed at different places. You can make them their own spots that are distant from each other and then feed them over there only.

This will give them the privacy they need for their food and will not be able to smell or get intrigued by each other’s food smells.  They would be focused on their own meals and you can wipe clean their bowls as soon as they are finished eating.

Can I feed my cat dog food in case of an emergency?

No matter how much you make sure that your cats and dogs do not ever run out of food, there will still come a time in your life when you will run out of food at such an odd time that you will not be able to buy a new pack. This is where your dog food can be used to rescue yourself and your cat from the emergency.

There is nothing specific in dog’s food that can be dangerous to your cat, but the one thing that you need to make sure is that your cat is not allergic to something that can possibly be found in the dog’s food. This may result in some serious problems for your cat.

Related Questions

Do cats get tired of eating the same food?

Yes! Just like humans, cats also tend to get bored with the same food offered to them every day. They need variations in the flavours just like humans do. So if your cat is not eating what you are offering, or is stealing food from your dog’s bowl or from your plate, try some variations.

What can I feed my cat if I’m out of cat food?

If you’re out of food, you can give your cats cooked beef, chicken etc. No raw food or meat should be given to cats because they may end up getting sick from it.

Can cats starve themselves if they don’t like their food?

Do not ever let your cat go without food and assume that it will tell you itself when it is hungry. If your cat does not eat food for 2-3 days, they may end up with liver failure and die. If your cat is not eating the food, try giving some variations or consult your vet immediately.

How do I know if my cat does not like their food?

If your cat does not like what you are giving to it, they will just nod away from the food. They may also meow in a complaining manner or may even stump their tail on the ground. This will be your cue to offer something else.

Conclusion

You cat mistakenly eating dog food here and there doesn’t pose a threat to their health. However, it’s your responsibility to make sure that this habit doesn’t go out of control. In the long term, this can worsen their appetite and thus slowly ruin their health. And even if your cat is in the habit of eating dog food, getting them off of it isn’t too difficult either and just requires a little patience and effort.

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