Can humans eat cat food and will it be cheaper?

In general terms, the answer to the two questions in the title are (a) yes and (b) yes but it depends upon the food quality. Eating cat food to save money is not a long-term solution and it is not ideal. And people tend to store cat food less well than they do human food which may result in contamination issues. Also, cat food comes in dry and wet forms. I am referring to the wet form in the answer below.

Tuna open sandwich made with wet cat food
Tuna open sandwich made with wet cat food. Not very appetizing is it. It was made by a millionaire who’s obsessed with saving momey. Image: TLC.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Real example

A millionaire lady in America likes to save money by feeding her husband and herself on cat food. She’s described as an extreme cheapskate as she has a net worth of more than $5.3 million. She will make a tuna sandwich with tuna cat food. She says that she buys cat food to eat herself because cat food fish costs $0.30 less than human fish. She means fish for human consumption. She fed her ex-husband tuna cat food and declared to the world that she’d just saved $0.30. Her story tells us that you can eat cat food without it harming you.

Not toxic

There is nothing that I know of in cat food which harms humans or which is toxic to humans but the answer isn’t quite as black-and-white as that. For example, dog foods include vitamin K which can be toxic to humans at high quantities. But the edibility of cat food is logical as at a fundamental level cat’s anatomy and physiology is similar to ours.

The advice is that long-term pet food consumption is not good for humans because there will is a risk of nutritional deficiency.

The website now has an artificial intelligence computer answering questions. It is called Sage. In response to the question, “is it safe for a human to eat dog or cat food?” Sage provides the following answer:

“It is not safe for a human to eat dog or cat food. These foods are formulated for the specific nutritional needs of dogs and cats, and may not provide the necessary nutrients for a human. Additionally, some ingredients in these foods may be harmful to humans. It is important to only consume foods that are safe and appropriate for human consumption.”

That is the answer that I would expect it to provide but it plays safe; too safe in my view. Artificial intelligence computers search deeply throughout the Internet to find an answer which it then summarises in several lines. So, this answer is a summary of all the answers on the Internet.

Other than above, my answer comes from a good source, Live Science.

Years ago, I remember reading about pet food manufacturers using people to check the taste of human grade cat food. They were eating it as if they were cats. So, no problem there. A further confirmation that high quality cat food can substitute human food in the short term. To be honest, I would expect that even in the long term it wouldn’t cause harm provided it was the best quality.

The cost of cat food

There is an article in The Guardian newspaper today about the cost of cat food being very high nowadays and manufacturers shrinking the quantity of cat food that you buy while maintaining the same price. The result is the same thing: higher prices. This is due to inflation in the UK at March 2023.

There is no doubt in my mind that if you buy expensive, high quality cat food and if you eat cheap human food, the price of cat food will be higher than the price of human food. But in general terms cat food is cheaper than human food although it is hard to compare. If you do compare, you’ll have to compare on a price per kilogram or pound basis. My research on that indicated that cat food in general terms is cheaper the human food.

Pet food manufacturers price gouging?

And if the profit margins of the cat food manufacturers interest you, Susan Thixton, an American pet food safety advocate, has done some nice research on the topic and also in general terms states that pet food manufacturers make more profit from cheap foods than they do from expensive foods. That’s my interpretation because she states that “the price to manufacture and ship to retail a feed grade dried ingredient pet food is at least 4,600% less than the price to manufacture and ship to retail a human grade pet food”.

4,600% equates to over 40 times cheaper. So, the overheads in producing cheap cat food are much, much less than the more expensive varieties which allows for greater profit margins. She makes the point, a point that we know, that the price of pet food varies tremendously from, in America, $0.40 a pound to more than $10 a pound.

That’s why it is very hard to compare the price of human food and cat food as I mention above. She more or less defends the pet food manufacturing industry on the allegation that they are involved in “price gouging”. And she is very critical of pet food manufacturers.


If needs must you can eat decent quality cat food of the wet variety but to be honest, in the West and referring particularly to the UK and America, I would doubt that you would be so skint that you are forced to eat cat food. And don’t forget this is really about taste rather than nutrients. In general humans in the West are quite pampered. Humans have become soft, too soft to consider eating cat food.

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