Can Turtles Eat Cat Food

Can Turtles Eat Cat Food? Here’s What You Need to Know

Commercial pellets for cats and turtles often bear similar labels. And if you have both cats and turtles, you might be tempted to give your pet turtle some of the cat food.

But can turtles eat cat food in the first place? While it is technically possible for a turtle to eat cat food, it is not recommended. Cat food is not nutritionally complete for turtles and can lead to health problems.

So what happens if you give your cat food to your turtle? And why aren’t turtles supposed to eat cat food? This article highlights the dangers and risks of feeding your turtle cat food.

Can You Feed Cat Food To Your Pet Turtles?


Turtles have different dietary needs than cats, so don’t assume they will also have the same needs. For example, cats need more protein in their diets, whereas turtles need more calcium.

Can You Feed Cat Food To Your Pet Turtles

Thus, feeding your turtle cat food regularly can cause malnutrition. In some cases, cat food can be fatal. So, while you may see your turtle nibbling on your kitty’s kibble from time to time, it’s best to stick to a diet designed explicitly for turtles. 

But if you must, feed it sparingly and infrequently – it should never be part of a staple diet routine. However, if you’re looking to show your turtle some love, try giving them a special treat designed just for them.

So, why is cat food bad for turtles?

First, turtles require a diet that is lower in protein than what is found in most cat foods. If a turtle ingests too much protein, it could lead to health problems.

Turtles Like Cat Food

Not only is cat food too high in proteins, but it also lacks the necessary vitamins and minerals that these reptiles need to stay healthy. 

First, turtles need a diet with high calcium levels and vitamin A; unfortunately, commercial cat food does not contain enough of these nutrients. 

Moreover, cat food is high in fat and calories and low in fiber. So it can lead to weight gain and other health problems in turtles. 

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In addition, cat food lacks vitamin D, which is essential for turtles. Without enough vitamin D, turtles can’t metabolize calcium and phosphorus properly, leading to bone problems.

Can You Feed Cat Food To Your Pet Turtles

Additionally, cat food often has a hefty 9% or more fat content. This amount is significantly greater than what a turtle needs.

If you’re looking for a healthy treat for your turtle, try offering them some chopped vegetables or commercial turtle food pellets instead.

Do Turtles Like Cat Food?

Yes, they do. They will eat just about anything, including cat food. However, we do not suggest you feed your turtle cat food because it doesn’t provide turtles with enough nutrition.

Turtles Like Cat Food

Health Risks Of Turtles Eating Cat Food

While it may not be harmful to a turtle to eat cat food occasionally, some health risks are associated with turtles eating cat food as their primary diet. 

Cat Food
  • Cat food is not high in calcium and can lower your turtle’s shell strength
  • Lack of vitamin D causes slow metabolism and stunted growth 
  • High protein in cat food causes pyramiding [abnormal shell shape]. Also, protein in cat food can cause bladder stones and other kidney problems
  • The low-grade fiber in cat food can lead to bloating and constipation
  • Cat food is typically high in fat and calories, which can lead to obesity, heart and liver problems

Why Shouldn’t You Feed Cat Food To Turtles? 

Some turtles will eat cat food if given a chance. However, there are reasons why you shouldn’t feed your turtle cat food. 

Most cat food is too high in protein and fat for turtles. In addition, cat food doesn’t contain essential nutrients [vitamin A & D] and minerals [calcium] that turtles need.

Why Shouldn’t You Feed Cat Food To Turtles

While some cat food brands are safe for turtles, it’s generally best to err on the side of caution and avoid feeding cat food to your turtle altogether.

Can You Feed Cat Food To Baby Turtles? If So, How?

You can technically feed cat food to baby turtles. Juvenile turtles need a lot of protein to grow, and cat food has abundant protein. 

Baby Turtles

However, making it a regular part of their diet is not the best idea. Instead, make it more of a treat. Also, consider wet cat food because it’s easier to digest.

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Video Of A Turtle Eating Cat Food

A turtle eating cat food

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can Box Turtles Eat Cat Food?

Box turtles can technically eat cat food – but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. While box turtles can digest cat food, it’s not an ideal source of nutrition for them. Cat food is typically high in fat and protein, leading to obesity and other health problems in turtles. So it’s best to avoid it altogether.

2. Can Red-Eared Slider Turtles Eat Cat Food?  

The short answer is yes, Red-Eared Slider turtles can eat cat food. Most will love eating cat food. 

Nonetheless, that doesn’t warrant that you should start feeding your pet turtle cat food regularly. Doing so could be harmful to their health.

3. Can Painted Turtles Eat Cat Food?

Painted turtles are omnivores, so their diet includes plants and animals. 

This means they can technically eat cat food. However, just because painted turtles can eat something doesn’t mean they should. In this case, it’s best to avoid giving your turtle cat food and focus on a more natural diet of plant matter such as vegetables or fruit.


So, technically speaking, yes, turtles can eat cat food. However, that doesn’t mean they should. 

Cat food is not a balanced diet for turtles and can lead to health problems down the road. If you’re going to feed your turtle cat food, do so sparingly and supplement with other foods to create a more well-rounded meal.

Do you want to know if turtles eat asparagus or spinach? Read our articles about it to learn more.

Can Turtles Eat Cat Food

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