Living in a multispecies household is an absolute pleasure, yet, it also comes with an array of challenges. For example, one of the most common issues owners face is trying to keep everyone eating their food.
So why does it matter?
People are commonly mistaken in thinking that cats and dogs are carnivores and have the same nutritional needs. So let’s look a little more into that.
Cats are something called obligate carnivores; this means they need a diet rich in animal proteins. Their digestive system is not designed to utilize plant proteins.
Therefore, they don’t receive adequate nutrition from a diet high in carbohydrates or plant proteins. One of the most important components of a cats’ diet is an amino acid called taurine, which is mainly found in meat, fish, and eggs.
Without taurine in their diet, cats will face many health problems, including blindness, digestive issues, weakening of the heart, and eventually, death.
Dogs are not true carnivores. Unlike cats, they can digest and utilize plant proteins and almost 100% of the carbohydrates they consume. Cat food tends to be higher in fat, calories, and meat protein content.
Dogs eating cat food can certainly survive – but this nutritional imbalance has consequences. The first of which will likely be digestive upset caused by the high-fat content; this will be in the form of diarrhea and/or vomiting.
If a dog is fed cat food long-term, they would likely start to pile on the pounds, and obesity can cause a range of health problems, as we all know.
Aside from dietary requirements, there are a few other considerations. First, food is a precious resource to all living things, so it is quite natural for animals to protect it.
As we can see, diet swapping isn’t a good idea either way around, but dogs normally don’t let their meals hang around long enough for the cat to sneak a bite. This is why we are focusing on how to keep the dog’s paws off the cat food.
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So, How to Keep Cat Food Away From Dog?
There are a few different methods to try; here are a few suggestions that I suggest you attempt.
1. Train The Dog
The first thing to try is to simply train your dog. Easier said than done at times, I know. Some breeds of dogs are more likely to be driven by food, but it also comes down to the life stage and their personalities.
You will want to try two very basic things to test if this solution is right for your dog. First, you want to teach the “leave it” command and scold your dog if you catch them sneaking a nibble.
You should be able to tell pretty quickly if training will work for your dog. Some dogs want nothing more than to please their people, so they learn that it is out of bounds. Many, maybe even the majority, are likely to find the sweet, sweet smell of cat food too irresistible.
Interesting fact, dogs find cat food difficult to resist because of the same high-fat content that will likely cause them digestive upset!
2. Set Meal Time
If training isn’t likely to work for you, the next method is to introduce set meal times for your furry family. This type of feeding schedule is most commonly used for dogs but is also appropriate for cats.
However, many cats might have other ideas. Having fixed mealtimes isn’t always a practical solution; some cats prefer to graze throughout the day rather than eating large meals in one go.
While this isn’t necessarily a natural way for cats to eat, many are used to this and are good at self-regulating their intake.
3. Place Cat Food Bowl Higher
One of the most commonly used methods for keeping the cat food safe is to simply move the bowl onto a higher surface out of reach. This certainly isn’t foolproof as some dogs are quite determined, but it is a quick and simple solution for most cases.
In addition, you can buy specially designed shelves that have cat bowl-sized slots cut into them. This is to stop the dishes from sliding about and falling off the edge, or you could also just pop them on the kitchen counter.
4. Use Dog/Baby Gate
Some pet parents opt to have a room cordoned off from the dog; this is often achieved using a baby gate. However, most cats are slim enough to pass through the gaps or able to simply jump over the top. This idea is also good as it allows the cat to have a quiet private space away from the dog should they need it.
5. Install Door Straps
If you find the idea of a baby gate a bit of an eyesore, there are door straps (much like the ones used to keep toddlers at bay).
These only allow a door to open wide enough for the cat to pass through the gap; however, this only works to deter larger dogs.
Are There Any Simpler Solutions?
Blockading parts of the house and drilling holes in walls are not practical solutions for many people. Fortunately, there is a wide range of products available which offer simpler or less intrusive solutions.
6. Get a Microchip Feeder
I will look at a microchip feeder; this electronic food bowl can only be opened by the animal whose microchip is registered to that particular feeder. These can take a little getting used to but are generally pretty effective.
However, it’s worth noting that they are quite pricey, and a larger or particularly naughty dog would be able to break into them.
They also require your cat to be microchipped for it to function, in the shape of a wearable collar.
7. Make a Dog Proof Feeding Box
My final suggestion is a specially designed feeding box; there are three styles to consider. The first is a top entry one, which simply means the box has a hole in the top in which the cat enters the box to access the food.
This could take a little getting used to for some cats and might not be suitable for small kittens or elderly cats. The second style of box has an internal corner built-in. This means they have to walk into the box and turn the corner to access the food.
Again, they prevent the dog from being able to stick its head inside. The last is a straight, long box with a simple hole cut into it and the bowl placed at the end out of reach of most breeds.
It is worth remembering a smaller dog could access these last two designs.
On a budget? Get creative! Some of these designs could be easily replicated at home using plastic storage boxes.
As a furkid parent, you must be aware of how much cat food cost? And what to feed a cat when out of food? As well as if you have multiple pets at your home cats, and dog, then know how to stop dogs from eating cat food? It is necessary to ensure your kitty gets what you fill in her bowl.
To the behavioral side to educate pet parents, we recently published a guide on “why does my cat keep throwing up her food?” it helps you understand why cats through up their meals.
In a nutshell
It is easy to just shrug our shoulders and say, “dogs will be dogs,” and let them get on with it. But it is our duty as pet owners to ensure they have a species-appropriate diet and for all of the furry family to feel secure in the home.
At first, the task can seem a bit daunting and frustrating, but as you can see, there is a wide array of solutions available.
Regardless of the shape, size, or age of your fuzzy companions, or the size and layout of your home, there is always a solution that can work for you. Don’t forget; it doesn’t need to cost a fortune!
There are simple DIY options available; you just need to use your imagination and take some inspiration from the purchasable options described here.