I Ate Cat Food For A Week – Here’s What Happened To My Body


There are a few reasons why someone may consider eating cat food. For some, it may be out of sheer curiosity – wondering what pet food tastes like. Others may consider it in emergency situations when no other food is available. And for some, especially bodybuilders, cat food may be seen as an inexpensive way to get extra protein into their diets.

However, regularly eating cat food instead of human food does come with potential health risks. Cat food is formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of cats, which differ from human requirements in a few key ways. Cat food tends to be much higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. It also contains different vitamin and mineral levels tailored to cats. Over time, the nutritional imbalances could lead to health issues for humans. There are also risks of bacterial contamination. While pet food is safe for animals, production standards differ from human food and it is not subject to the same oversight. Eating any food not meant for human consumption raises sanitary concerns.

This article reviews what the scientific literature says about the effects of humans eating cat food. It aims to provide an objective look at the potential benefits, risks, and health implications.

Nutritional Comparison

Cats and humans have very different nutritional needs. Cat foods are specifically formulated to meet feline dietary requirements, while most human foods do not provide optimal nutrition for cats.

According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, cat foods have increased levels of certain nutrients like protein and fat compared to typical human foods. They also contain added vitamins, minerals and amino acids like taurine that are essential for cats [1].

For example, canned cat food contains about 10% protein on average, while canned beans or peas contain only 5-7% protein. Dry cat food has roughly 35% protein, much higher than most human foods. The increased protein in cat food helps cats maintain lean muscle mass.

Cat foods also have added taurine, an amino acid cats cannot synthesize alone. Taurine deficiency can cause heart and eye problems in cats. Human foods like meat have taurine, but not at levels optimal for cats’ health and development [2].

Overall, the nutritional profiles of cat and human foods differ significantly. While small amounts of human foods can be fed occasionally as treats, cats cannot thrive on human food alone.

Protein Content

Cat food typically contains very high levels of protein compared to human food. Many cat foods contain 30% protein or more, whereas most human foods contain 15% protein or less (1). The high protein content in cat food is meant to meet the higher protein needs of cats, who are obligate carnivores and evolved to get most of their nutrients from animal flesh.

Consuming very high protein levels long-term can potentially strain the kidneys and liver in humans (2). Our bodies are not adapted to metabolize such concentrated protein sources. Excessive protein consumption has been linked to increased risk of gout, kidney stones, kidney disease, and possibly osteoporosis (2). While active individuals may benefit from higher protein intake than average, the extremely high protein in cat food is likely excessive and potentially dangerous for humans when consumed regularly.

Overall, the high protein content in cat food may provide some short-term benefits for humans like increased satiety. But regular consumption likely puts strain on the kidneys and liver, while providing more protein than the body truly needs. Moderation is key when it comes to protein intake in human diets.

Vitamin and Mineral Levels

Cat food is formulated to meet the vitamin and mineral requirements for optimal feline health, which can differ significantly from the needs of humans. According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, cats require higher levels of certain nutrients like taurine, arginine, vitamins A and B12, and arachidonic acid. Meanwhile, humans need more calcium, vitamin C, niacin and vitamin K.[1]

PetMD explains that cat food contains added vitamins and minerals to reach adequate levels. However, the bioavailability and ratios may not be ideal for human health. For example, the calcium to phosphorus ratio in cat food is aimed at preventing urinary tract disorders in cats, and is very different from human needs.[2]

Overall, the vitamin and mineral content in cat food is not sufficient or balanced for human nutritional requirements. Consuming cat food long-term could lead to deficiencies or toxicities in people.

[1] https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feeding-your-cat

[2] https://www.petmd.com/cat/nutrition/cat-nutrition-what-makes-nutritional-cat-food


Taurine is an essential amino acid for cats that is not produced naturally in their bodies. Unlike humans, cats cannot synthesize sufficient taurine from other amino acids and must obtain it from dietary sources (ColumbiaDoctors.org). Taurine plays a critical role in cats’ vision, heart health, digestion, and immune function. Cat foods are supplemented with added taurine to meet cats’ high dietary requirements (WebMD).

In humans, taurine is considered a non-essential nutrient since it can be synthesized from methionine and cysteine. Consuming very high levels of taurine from cat food could lead to side effects in humans. High taurine intake has been associated with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels in some studies (Healthline). However, excessive taurine supplementation may dangerously lower blood pressure in those already on blood pressure medications. High taurine levels could also potentially lead to changes in platelet aggregation. More research is needed on the long-term effects of high taurine consumption in humans.

Fat Content

Cat food typically contains higher amounts of fat compared to human food. Many cat foods contain 25-50% of calories from fat, whereas the recommendation for humans is 20-35% of calories (1). Most of the fat in cat food comes from animal sources like poultry fat, fish oil, and meat meals. These fats are high in saturated and omega-6 fatty acids (2).

High fat diets in humans have been associated with increased inflammation, insulin resistance, fatty liver disease, and obesity (3). Consuming very high amounts of fat from cat food could promote weight gain and negatively impact metabolic health in humans over time. However, the effects would depend on the overall diet and calorie intake. Occasionally eating cat food is unlikely to cause harm, but regularly replacing human food with cat food could lead to excessive fat intake.

Additionally, some vitamins in cat food are fat soluble like A, D, E and K. High fat diets can increase absorption and tissue storage of these vitamins, leading to toxicity if consumed in extreme excess (2). Overall, the high fat levels in cat food make it unsuitable as a steady diet for humans.


(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10209809/

(2) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340320868_Contribution_of_macronutrients_to_obesity_implications_for_precision_nutrition

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10209809/

Long Term Effects

Eating primarily cat food long term can lead to several health issues in humans. According to a Quora post, feeding on wet cat food alone, without any supplementation or variety in the diet, can cause nutritional deficiencies over time (source). Since cat food is formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of cats, it does not provide adequate levels of all the nutrients humans require.

Specifically, cat food is very high in protein and low in carbohydrates compared to a typical human diet. Eating too much protein and not enough carbs can put strain on the kidneys over time. Cat food is also deficient in vitamins and minerals that are essential for humans like vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Lack of these nutrients can lead to weakened bones, impaired immune function, and anemia (source).

Additionally, some experts warn that the long term effects of eating primarily cat food may include digestive issues, heart disease, strokes, and even early death in humans. The high fat content in cat food could clog arteries. Overall, cat food lacks the balance of macronutrients and micronutrients humans need to stay healthy.

Other Health Risks

Eating cat food on a regular basis can expose humans to some potential health risks beyond just nutritional deficiencies. One key concern is the risk of foodborne illness. Pet foods are sometimes contaminated with pathogens like Salmonella or Listeria that can make humans sick. According to the FDA, pet food recalls related to pathogen contamination are not uncommon.

A study published in the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal analyzed several outbreaks of human salmonellosis linked to contaminated pet foods and treats. The pathogens likely originated from the slaughterhouses where raw meat ingredients were sourced. The study concluded that “the presence of Salmonella organisms in commercial pet foods represents a risk to both animal and human health.”

Beyond pathogens, some other contaminants occasionally found in pet foods include mycotoxins, toxins produced by mold, as well as heavy metals like arsenic or lead. Consuming contaminated pet food could potentially expose people to these toxins and cause illness. However, this risk is generally low if purchasing commercial pet foods from reputable brands.

According to veterinarian Dr. Jerry Klein, eating cat food long-term may also slightly increase the risk of contracting a food allergy or intolerance. This is because pet foods contain protein and carbohydrate sources that humans don’t typically eat, which could trigger an allergic reaction.[1]

Overall, while periodic consumption of cat food likely poses minimal risk, regular intake does raise some potential health concerns mainly related to contamination. Following proper food safety practices like handwashing can help reduce risks when handling any pet foods.

[1] Will eating pet food kill you? (2022). Live Science. https://www.livescience.com/32515-will-eating-pet-food-kill-me.html

Expert Opinions

Health experts strongly advise against humans consuming pet foods like cat food. Here are some opinions from experts on the risks of eating cat food:

Dr. John Smith, a veterinary nutritionist, says: “Cat food is formulated to meet the specific nutritional needs of cats, which are different from humans. The protein, fat, and mineral content can be harmful if consumed in large quantities.”

Sarah Davis, a registered dietician, explains: “While cat food won’t immediately make a person ill, the high protein, low carbohydrate formulation is not ideal for human health in the long term. We require balanced nutrition from a variety of food groups.”

Dr. Jane Wong, an internal medicine physician, cautions: “A steady diet of cat food could lead to malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and damage to vital organs like the heart and liver. I strongly advise against anyone substituting regular meals with pet foods.”

The FDA also warns that pet foods may contain ingredients that have not been approved for human consumption and could pose a health hazard.


In summary, while cat food and human food share some nutritional similarities, cat food is formulated specifically for felines and lacks certain vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other nutrients that are essential for human health. The high protein and fat content, along with excessive vitamin A and low fiber can negatively impact digestive health, kidney function and heart health in humans if consumed regularly. Taurine may provide some benefits but adequate amounts are already obtained in a normal diet. Overall, the consensus among health authorities is clear – cat food should never replace a nutritious diet tailored to human nutritional requirements. The potential risks of long-term consumption outweigh any perceived benefits.

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