Dog Health & Care

Feeding Cats and Dogs in the Same Home

Feeding cats and dogs in the same home is more important than you think. And … keeping their food separate is just as important. Especially when the dog would prefer to eat as much cat food as possible: dry or canned, and at all hours of the night unless you remember to put them up or away.

In the pet world, raising various pets of pet species is not just black and white. I say pet world,  as the day when pet owners are just cat owners or dog owners is long gone.

Why do dogs love cat food?

feeding cats and dogs

A major problem of feeding a dog and cat in the same home is the battle of the wits. Who gets the cat food first …the dog or the cat? In my home, almost always it will be the dog.

  • They can run faster to the feed bowl
  • They can eat faster
  • Dogs are not as picky as cats are
  • When feeding the cat, a smaller portion is put down than for dogs

While there are still some concerns over a cat and a dog living together, if you train the two to like each other, they can be the best of friends. Your dog and cat will be sharing everything. They’ll keep your bed cramped as they try to snuggle with you. They’ll take turns licking your face. Both of them will line up for pets by their owner. They’re both domesticated pets, so you should expect them to share everything, right?

Well, not everything.

Let’s be real: even though they’re not as different as, say, a giraffe and an iguana, a cat and a dog are still two separate species. They have different needs and different diets. As such, you should not let Fido eat Fluffy’s food, and vice versa.

Why? I’ll tell you.

Why Dogs Shouldn’t Eat Cat Food

Both dogs and cats are carnivores, so you would expect their diets to be the same, right? Not exactly.

  • Cats are the more carnivorous of the two (“obligate” carnivores, in fact)
  • Dogs tend to be omnivores, meaning they eat foods from both meat and plant-based sources
  • Cats require a lot of protein
  • Dogs tend to have a more balanced diet
  • A good quality cat food is filled with protein and calories, being mostly consistent of meat
  • A dog eating cat food on occasion isn’t going to harm it
  • If your pup keeps eating your kitty’s food, you may see some weight gain
  • Dog obesity is not something to laugh at, and can cause all sorts of health problems
  • As a responsible pet owner, you need to feed your dog a balanced diet. What type of diet it needs will depend on its size and breed
  • No matter what type of dog it is, you shouldn’t feed it cat food.

Why Cats Shouldn’t Eat Dog Food

As I said before, cats are obligate carnivores. If you try to feed it a vegan or vegetarian diet, it’s probably not going to be pretty.

Dog food tends to have a balance of different foods, including meat and grains. While a cat can eat non-meats in small doses, it needs to have mostly meat in its diet, and the cat may become malnourished if it only eats dog food.

Another problem rises when a cat eats dog food as well, especially dry. Dry dog food typically is a lot bigger than cat food, and when a cat eats some dry dog food, it may choke. So cats have a safety reason in addition to a health concern when it comes to eating dog food.

feeding dogs and cats

What Should I Do When Feeding Cats and Dogs Together?

If your dog and cat keep getting into each other’s food, you need to take action and separate the animals’ foods so that kitty eats cat food and puppy eats dog food.

For some, that’s easier said than done. Your animals tend to find a way to get into each other’s food. But with a few pointers, you can feed them separately. Check out the following ideas when feeding cats and dogs in the same home.

  • Feed the Cat in a High Place.
    • Cats can get around a lot more than dogs. You can put kitty’s food on a counter or another high place, and your cat’s bound to find it with a jump.
    • Meanwhile, your dog may have trouble reaching the place your kitty can with ease.
  • Keep the dog food on floor level,
    •  Everything should go well!
  • Set Up a Different Feeding Schedule.
    • Don’t feed your pets whenever they feel like it.
    • Instead, set up a separate schedule.
    • Teach your dog to eat at a certain time, and keep kitty away during it, and vice versa.
    • Make sure the food is all gone before you feed another pet.
  • Try Some Pet Discipline.
    • If your pet is eating the other’s food, a little discipline could end the problem.
    • Be gentle on your pet, giving them a light scold when they get into food they aren’t supposed to, and reward them whenever they stay away.
    • Soon, your dog won’t be eating out of your cat’s bowl, and vice versa.
  • Feed in Separate Rooms.
    •  If your house is big enough, keep the cat and dog feeding spaces in separate rooms.
    • Each pet will associate their assigned room with their primary feeding space, so they won’t look in different rooms to get fed.
    • Introduce your pet to its new feeding place, and it should catch on quite quickly.
  • Use Pet Barriers.
    • For smaller homes, simply put a dog gate between your feeding spaces.
    • Cats can jump over a barrier, and many gates allow a space for a cat to slip through.
    • If your dog keeps eating your cat’s food, it will keep the dog out of the cat’s feeding space, no matter how hard it tries.
  • Try a Designated Cat Feeding Device. If your dog keeps getting into your cat’s food no matter what you do, try an accessory that your pup won’t be able to enter. There are feeding spaces designed to allow cat entry only, keeping the pup eating its own food only when feeding cats and dogs together.
    • One such device is Meowspace. It’s a small box that is big enough for only a cat to fit in. To add extra security, you can set it up so your cat enters via its chip or collar. Your dog won’t be able to eat your cat’s food, no matter how hard it tries.

Owning a cat and a dog can be fun, but you need to remember that both are different species, and both require different needs. If you’re letting your cat and dog eat each other’s food, knock that off ASAP. While an occasional nibble won’t hurt, if they make a habit out of it, it could lead to health effects down the road. So keep kitty and puppy living a long life by separating their foods; you’ll be glad you did when feeding cats and dogs in the same home.



Images provided by Adobe

Emily Parker runs Catological (, her website dedicated to helping cat parents love their cats better. She loves to research and write about the best products we can give our pets, as well as science and experience backed how-to articles. She loves playing and snuggling with her 2 cats, Gus and Louis.


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1 Comment

  1. Miss Cellany
    February 8, 2017 at 2:03 pm — Reply

    My dog is very skinny and doesn’t put weight on easily, she’s also a very picky eater.
    The cats aren’t fussy and will eat almost anything (which is perhaps natural as they were abandoned kittens from a feral mother – the ferals eat out of the rubbish bins and can’t afford to be picky, it’s likely there’s been selection pressure on them for a long time to be unfussy opportunistic eaters). The cats get fat if I don’t watch their food intake as they will glut themselves if food is constantly available.

    I have a room sectioned off just for the cats (door is wedged partially closed so only the cats can fit in) and they get fed there, but I let them eat from the dog’s bowl sometimes too as it encourages the dog to eat when she’s being picky.

    My dog likes cat food more than dog food so I sometimes mix cat food into her dog food to encourage her to eat it. Sometimes she won’t eat until she’s seen the cats eating it first (apparently they’re her poison tasters or something). I think this behaviour started after I mixed an ingestible flea treatment into her food one day and she got fairly sick from that (so quite literally she might be using the cats as a test to see if I’ve “spiked” the food again).

    The occasional small amount of dog food won’t harm the cats will it? They eat mostly their own food separately from the dog, they only eat a little of the dog’s food when the dog is being fussy. The small amount of cat food mixed into the dog’s food won’t hurt the dog either surely? If the only concern is putting on weight then that isn’t an issue for my dog (she really needs some fat, at the moment she is very lean).

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