Can Cats Drink Dog Formula?

Contrary to popular belief, cats and dogs can get along and households with both a cat and a dog are pretty common. Admittedly, however, it can become a hassle to cater to the individual needs of both animals and it is even more difficult to keep your cat out of your dog’s food considering how curious cats are.

It is even more difficult if you’ve bought a little puppy home and you have to give them dog formula and your cat, young or old, won’t ease up until it gets a couple of licks in.

And so you think, hey let’s kill one bird with two stones. Might as well just give a bit of the dog formula to the cat. If it is safe for the dog, it must be safe for the cat as well, right? And considering how cats are lactose intolerant, dog formula is the better option, right? It is even more tempting if you have a kitten and a puppy and you’d want to save up a bit of money and so again two birds one stone, satisfy the curious kitten, and save money.

Can Cats Drink Dog Formula?

Can Cats Drink Dog Formula? - PetSchoolClassroom

Unfortunately, you’re going to have to stop what you’re doing. Feeding a cat’s dog formula isn’t necessarily the best idea and we’ve broken down why that is the case. Read on to find out why.

How cats and dogs are different and the same?

One would think we’re stating the obvious but sometimes dual pet owners overlook this fact and treat both cats and dogs the same: as pets. Now, this is great when it comes to loving them and giving them attention, and caring for them. But when it comes to food, you must repeat to yourself “cats are not dogs.”

Now there are some key differences when it comes to the two animals. To start off with, cats are obligate carnivores. That means all their nutrition comes from animal protein. In the wild, they’ll hunt birds, fish, rodents, and even a couple of insects to get their well-balanced diet. Sure, you might catch them nibbling on grass but that’s less to do with nutrition and more to do with their innate curiosity.

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Dogs, on the other hand, are omnivores. This means that in order for your dog to have a well-balanced diet, unlike their feline counterparts, they need both plants and meat. 

Obligate or true carnivores like your cat have a higher nutritional requirement for an amino acid called Taurine, for arachidonic acid which is a fatty acid, and for vitamins such as vitamin A, niacin, and pyridoxine. All of these things are easily available to them through fat sources and animal protein.

On the other hand, omnivores such as dogs (and us humans) don’t have the same high requirement for these elements mainly because their own bodies create them. 

Can cats drink dog milk?

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Secondly, shockingly enough, cats are lactose intolerant. All those cartoons showing cats waiting anxiously for the milkman to come so they can get their treat had it wrong all along. Cats cannot digest milk. Once they wean off of their mother’s milk they no longer need any sort of milk. 

Dogs are almost lactose intolerant. That means that they can handle milk better than cats can, but it isn’t a natural part of their diet.

Now it’s important to remember these two tidbits especially when it comes to formula. When the formula is made, the nutritional requirements of the animals are kept in mind when coming up with the formula. So keeping in mind how different what a well-balanced diet means for both animals, the ingredients will vary depending on the species.

It won’t cause your cat any health issues if they drink puppy replacement formula, per se. It won’t do them any good either. So it’ll just be empty and unnecessary eating. Rather, your cat/kitten will not get the nutritional balance needed for healthy development. So, why bother?

How to handle emergency situations?

Let’s put a scenario into play. You’re a parent to a young puppy who is drinking formula. One night you hear incessant meowing coming from outside and when you go check to come upon a little kitten and the mother and the rest of the litter is nowhere in sight. You take the kitten in and it’s hungry. The only choices you have are regular milk and dog formula. 

You know that cats can’t digest milk so the better solution seems to be dog formula. So between the two, yes dog formula is better than cow milk. But that’s only a temporary solution. To get through the night you can offer the kitten dog formula but it won’t work in the long run. In fact, concentrated baby formula is a better alternative to the two. So if for some odd reason you can’t get your hands on feline formula, replace the dog formula with baby formula.

 However, if either of the two is used as a permanent solution, you’ll be depriving the kitten of the vitamins, fats, proteins, and vitamins it needs and can get from the cat-centric formula.

The species-specific formula does its best to mimic the mother’s milk content as closely as it can and cats differ the most when it comes to nutritional content. To put things into perspective, cat’s milk contains 10.6% protein, 10.8% fat, and 3.7% sugar. On the other hand, humans, dogs, cows, and pigs have lower percentages of fat and protein whereas cats have the least amount of sugar. So, dog formula will have the opposite impact on your cat.


In conclusion, you should always feed your pet’s specie specific food and formula. Each animal is designed differently and their needs vary quite a bit which means interchanging their foods isn’t what a responsible pet owner would or should do. 

It won’t harm your cat if they sneak in a lick of dog formula on occasion but at the same time, it won’t do them good either. If you’re fostering a kitten, make sure to follow their dietary needs to keep them healthy!

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