is cat food bad for humans

They have different dietary needs than us humans, who are more of the omnivorous type, munching on plants and animals alike. So, while a few bites of cat food won’t harm you, making it a regular part of your diet might leave you with some nutritional gaps that not even a can-opener can fix.

Food from the Same Farms

The majority of the components found in your cat’s food are sourced from the same farms that make our food. But there are significant differences between the ingredients in cat food and human food. Only the finest parts of each animal are used to make food for humans.

By-products are generally not made into food for humans. Your TV dinner won’t contain ground-up bones, scraps, or offal, but your cat’s food will. Manufacturers use animal parts that weren’t used for human food to make cat food. Good cuts like tenderloins and back straps are available to us, but everything else—including many parts you’d probably prefer not to eat—ends up in cat food.

Health and environmental journalist Donavyn Coffey is based in Kentucky. She covers food systems, healthcare, and anything CRISPR. Among other publications, her work has appeared in Popular Science, Wired UK, Scientific American, and Youth Today. Donavyn studied molecular nutrition and food policy in Denmark as a Fulbright Fellow. Her master’s degrees in food technology and journalism are from Aarhus University and New York University, respectively. She received her bachelor’s degree in biotechnology from the University of Kentucky. More about health.

For instance, vitamin K, which can be hazardous to humans in high doses, is present in dog food, according to Hunnes Furthermore, certain pet foods exclude vitamin C because dogs and cats can produce it on their own and humans need to get it through diet. Put differently, Hunnes stated that prolonged ingestion of pet food by humans raises the possibility of nutritional deficiencies.

But uncontaminated pet food is safe, at least in the short term, Hunnes said. Most pet food is made up of food-grade leftovers and byproducts, she told Live Science. Parts like bone meal, meat scraps and offal (such as the stomach, large intestine or tongue) from slaughterhouses, or soybean and grain byproducts from processing plants are the major components of pet food. Though these ingredients may not be very appetizing, pet food comes from the same sources as human food. So its not inherently toxic, and its safe to try if youre curious about kibble or even decide to eat it in an emergency food shortage, Hunnes said. However, where some raw pet foods are concerned, you should steer clear. Thats never a good idea for humans, according to the report from Healthline.

Its also important to know that most pet food is labeled “not fit for human consumption.” So if eating pet food does make you sick, either from nutritional deficiency or from a contaminant that got into the food before it reached your house, youd have limited legal recourse, according to a report from VICE.

Over the years, the FDA has issued numerous recalls and withdrawals concerning pet food, including a potential Salmonella contamination from rodent activity at a distribution center in 2022 and dog food with elevated levels of aflatoxins, or toxins produced by certain fungi found on agricultural crops, in 2021.

Canned Cat Food vs Dry

is cat food bad for humans

Compared to food in cans, dry pet food is more prone to contamination. It’s ripe for E. coli infection and other harmful pathogens. However, because of the canning procedure, cat food in cans is sterile. Generally speaking, canned cat food is preferable to dry kibble.

However, even canned cat food can become contaminated. More than 150 brands of pet food were recalled in 2007 as a result of a Chinese manufacturer including plastic in their protein exports. Many pets in the US died as a result of this, and you might have died too if you had consumed any of that pet food.

Strangely, there’s a greater chance that you will eat tainted human food, which is frequently recalled. Baby formula in China was recalled for the same melamine plastic contamination shortly after the 2007 recall, which led to over 300,000 sick children and over a dozen deaths.

FAQ

What happens if a human eats cat food?

Eating a single meal of cat food poses no real health risks. However, there are health risks that could be associated with long-term consumption of cat food. Even though it’s made of ingredients we commonly eat, it lacks some vital nutrients that cats don’t need, but we do.

Is pet food safe for human consumption?

Dog food isn’t designed for the unique nutrition needs of humans, though it is made from ingredients that are technically safe for humans to eat. Thus, it’s not inherently toxic for humans and may be safe in an emergency situation. However, eating dog food may increase your risk of developing foodborne illness.

Is cat food bad for you?

Onions, garlic, shallots, and scallions can cause damage to your cat’s red blood cells and lead to anemia. These foods are typically poisonous when eaten in large quantities, but exposure to concentrated forms of onion or garlic, such as onion soup mix or garlic powder, can also be toxic.

Is cat food human grade?

What goes into standard cat food as per the regulations? The PFMA okays the use of meat, fish, their byproducts, and numerous other ingredients in pet food, but they don’t have to be human-grade. The regulations essentially support the use of animal byproducts, which are not used for human food production.