If you live in a multi-animal home, it’s not unusual to see your dog eating cat food. After all, dogs love cat food, because of its high content. But when a cat steals a quick bite from your dog’s bowl, it makes you wonder why is my cat eating dog food and is it safe?
The short answer is a cat will eat cat food for several reasons such as; mimicking your dog’s behavior, boredom, texture, taste, but the biggest reason being smell. A cat’s sense of smell is 14x that of humans. Like humans, cats are attracted and want to eat foods that smell good.
Before we dig deeper into the various reasons your furry friend is attracted to dog food. Let’s take a closer look at whether or not they can eat dog food and why it’s not good for their diet.
Can Cats Eat Dog Food?
While it’s not dangerous for your cat to steal a kibble or two from your dog’s bowl, it isn’t an ideal replacement for cat food. Dogs and cats have different food requirements.
There’s a reason cat food is labeled as “cat food” and dog food labled as “dog food.” Cats are carnivores, meaning their diet consists of meat only. Dogs are omnivores, meaning their diet consists of meat, grains, and vegetables.
Is It Bad for A Cat to Eat Dog Food?
Feeding your cat dog food will deprive them of essential nutrients, which can eventually lead to health issues such as:
- Loss of Appetite
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Hunched Back
As well as other issues that will require medical attention. If your cat enjoys eating dog food, we’ll share some tips on how to stop them from eating it.
But first, let’s take a look at the possible reasons your cat likes the taste of dog food. If you understand the reason, you’ll be able to deal with the issue better.
They Are Attracted to the Scent
As mentioned above, cats have a stronger sense of smell than humans. A cat’s nose is the most important sense organ. A cat’s sense organ guides her to her prey, knows where you are, helps her find her way home when she gets lost, and helps her understand when food is edible or toxic.
If your cat has recently picked up on this behavior, it could be because they are attracted to the new brand of dog food. Because cats are meat eaters by nature, they could be attracted to the meat aroma in the new dog food, they’ve never noticed before.
Mimicking The Dog’s Behavior
When cats live with a dog, it’s not unusual for them to pick up on some of the behaviors they see. Some pet owners have even said that their cat tends to act more like a dog than a cat.
Cats are intelligent and if they see a dog being rewarded for certain behavior, they will start mimicking the same behaviors. Like the dog, the cat starts begging for human food whenever you’re eating or see the dog doing it.
They Like The Texture of the Food
Some cats are picky eaters. Therefore, they may be attracted to the texture of the dog food. It could be because they like the way the kibble feels against their tongue when they eat it?
A cat’s tongue consists of papillae, which are a cat’s taste buds. The papillae make it possible for cats to stay clean and healthy, clean the meat off animal bones, and cat fur on their tongue.
When they like the way something feels on the papillae, they will continue the behavior.
Your Cat is Bored
Maybe your cat is bored with eating the same cat food daily. Like humans, we get tired of eating the same foods over and over again. So if your cat is getting bored with her diet, she might look for new food to try something different.
In this situation, it’s best to introduce a new type of high-quality cat food that will keep them interested in their meals every day. Speak to your veterinarian to discuss a different type of cat food for your furry friend.
They will be able to walk you through the process of how to properly change your cat’s food, without causing gastrointestinal upset.
They Enjoy the Taste
Cats like humans will only eat food they enjoy and makes them feel good. When a cat eats dog food, it’s likely they are enticed by the taste.
If possible try finding a cat food that is similar to the dog’s food. Try praising your cat for eating its own food and offering her treats on a regular basis.
Your Cat Wants to Be the Boss
Some cats think they are the boss of the house, and prove their dominance over the dog by eating their food. We’ve all seen it where cats lay on top of dogs or constantly fighting over territory.
In this situation, you’ll need to be the dominant one in the relationship and put your foot down. Let your cat know that it is not allowed to eat dog food and only eat its own food.
This will take some time, but eventually, your cat will get the message.
How Do I Stop My Cat From Eating Dog Food?
Now that know why your cat is attracted to dog food, here’s how to get them to stop eating it.
The feeding schedule of your cat and dog needs to be at the same time. While it’s okay to feed your cat earlier while the dogs are outside taking care of business, so they don’t try to eat the food.
You don’t want to feed the cat and then hours later feed the dogs. This will make the cat think they are getting a treat and will want to eat some too.
Use Separate Bowls
Never feed your cat from the dog bowl. Every pet in the house needs its own bowl. This will help them understand they have their specific bowls to eat from.
Having separate bowls will avoid any confusion between your pets.
Don’t Leave Food Out All Day Long
If you don’t want your cat eating dog food, pick up the dog food bowl after your dog is done. Put it in the closet so the cat can’t access it.
Whenever it’s time for the dog to eat, you can pull the bowl out of the closet and feed them. This not only prevents your cat from sneaking a few bites during the day, it also prevents your dog from overeating.
Feed Your Dogs Outside or In Another Room
If you have an indoor-only cat, consider feeding your dogs outside on the patio or garage. You can also consider locking your cat in another room while the dogs eat and pick everything up before letting her out.
If you live in a one-bedroom studio or small apartment, then distract the cat while the dog is eating and vice versa. This will allow your cat to eat without being distracted and vice versa.
If I Run Out Of Cat Food, Is It Okay to Feed My Cat Dog Food?
Every pet owner has experienced this at one point or another. But the answer is no, never feed your cat dog food if you run out or your dog cat food when they run out. Feeding your cat dog food for one meal, won’t kill her, but the abrupt change in diet will cause gastrointestinal distress.
Cats require nutrients such as amino acid taurine in their food, and won’t get it from dog food. When you run out of cat food, it’s best to feed them a bowl of bland “people food” such as oatmeal, white rice, and boiled plain chicken.
This will give you enough time to run by the pet store to pick up their food. If you’re continually running out, then consider signing up a company that offers pet food delivery.
Here are some bland food recipes for both your dog and cat if they run out of their own food.
To sum it up, cats are carnivores and require a “meat” only diet. Allowing or feeding them to eat dog food on a regular basis deprives them of essential nutrients, which can lead to health problems.
If your cat enjoys eating dog food, you might have to take some preventative measures to make sure they don’t get sick. Try moving the dog’s food bowl away from where the cat eats and placing their own food bowl in a more visible spot.
Also, keep an eye on how much your cat is eating and if they look like they’re losing weight, consult your veterinarian.