What to Feed Your Pet When You’ve Run Out of Cat Food

If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably been there. It’s dinner time and you realize you’re out of cat food.

Your feline friend is looking at you, disappointed, and you’re scrambling through the cupboard for something—anything—that they can eat.

We asked PDSA vet nurse Lynne James what to feed your cat if you’ve unexpectedly run out of cat food, ensuring they get a healthy and nutritious meal.

“It’s all too easy for life to get in the way and you suddenly realize you are down to the last portion of food for your pet. It’s best not to worry, as most of us will have food cupboard items we can substitute for a one-off occasion,” James told Newsweek.

Cat getting food in a bowl
A file photo of a cat being given food in a bowl. A vet has told Newsweek what to feed your cat if you’ve unexpectedly run out of pet food.
Chalabala/Getty Images

When it comes to searching the cupboards for suitable alternatives for your cat, it is important to avoid anything that could be toxic.

Chocolate contains the chemical theobromine that can be fatal to cats. Cakes, sweets, cookies and cocoa powder could all make them sick.

Caffeine should also be avoided as it can negatively affect a pet’s heart, while onions, garlic and chives have chemicals called organosulfoxides, which can poison dogs and cats if enough is eaten.

Salt should be avoided too as sodium chloride is extremely poisonous to pets.

What to Give Your Cat if You’re Out of Food

If you have some pet food left but not enough for a full meal, there are ways you can pad it out.

“You could add in plain white fish, safe fruit and veg, eggs, and plain chicken or turkey breast,” said James. “Making sure to avoid any foods on the dangerous list.”

If you’re all out of cat food you can use any of those ingredients to create a one-off meal for your cat.

Something like plain chicken breast, cooled and cut up or a cooked and cooled boiled egg will ensure they don’t go to sleep with hungry tummies.

While these substitutions may be ok for a few meals, James explained that it is important to get hold of pet food as soon as you can.

“Substitutions may be OK for one or two meals. It’s worth noting that some pets may like the temporary meal too much, and turn their noses up at their healthier complete diet,” said James. “It’s also really important for pet owners to be aware that many human foods have way too many calories for our pets. It’s best not to feed these substitute foods on a regular basis, but they are fine for occasions when you need a quick fix.”

Food made specifically for pets is designed to ensure a properly balanced and healthy diet, containing the right amount of calories and nutrients that your pet requires.

“To give a cat three small cubes of cheese is the equivalent of a human eating two quarter pounders,” said James.

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