My cat seems to love dog food. Is it alright if I feed it to him?

Only as an occasional treat, and even then only in small amounts. While in strict terms of zoological classification cats and dogs may both belong to the order Carnivora, there are fundamental differences between their nutritional requirements. Dogs are physiologically similar to many other mammals (man included) and can eat food of both animal and vegetable origin – indeed, from a nutritional perspective they are described as omnivores. The cat, however, has evolved as a strict carnivore and requires food of animal origin in order to obtain several essential nutrients that difficult to obtain from plants or vegetables. These include taurine, arginine, vitamin A and the essential fatty acid arachidonic acid.

The cat’s association with man, as hunter and companion, has been relatively flexible over the centuries. Cats have always been able to supplement any leftovers they’ve received from humans by hunting or scavenging. However, when providing prepared petfood for your cat, it’s important that their diet is specifically designed to meet the nutritional peculiarities of a cat. Because of this, diets designed for dogs are generally unsuitable for kitty.

So, if your resident feline just loves your dog’s food, it’s probably not specifically harmful in the short term, but could cause long term damage in the form of malnutrition. Save it for the occasional treat, but make sure they are eating a healthy diet of regular cat food as well.

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