Many people in the UK own both a cat and a dog, and in the vast majority of cases, dogs can cats can live side by side perfectly happily after the initial introductions, with a little training and good household management, despite what films and TV may lead us to believe!
However, keeping dogs and cats together can throw up a range of challenges in all sorts of unexpected areas, and one of the main problems that multi-pet households often face is how to keep the dog from eating the cat’s food!
This can be a problem for a variety of reasons, because cats can and do monitor their own food intake, and can be trusted not to overeat even when excess food is available to them. Cats also need to eat little and often, and unless you are prepared to put food down for your cat every couple of hours and remove it again after they have eaten, this means that you will need to leave food down for your cat at all times in order to fulfil their needs.
Dogs, on the other hand, have poor impulse control when it comes to food, and will often eat everything in sight even if they are already full! Most dogs can and will eat anything they find, and cat food is generally considered to be a particular delicacy to your bottomless-stomached canine! Certain breeds are much more apt to pilfer cat food than others too, such as the Golden retriever and Labrador retriever, both of whom are highly undiscerning when it comes to eating and will go out of their way to get their teeth into anything they can find, suitable or not!
In this article, we will share five tips and tricks to keep your dog away from the cat food, in order to ensure that your cat gets enough to eat without having to fight for it, and to ensure that your dog does not consume large quantities of unsuitable food! Read on to learn more.
While there are a whole range of options available to you for physically preventing your dog from eating the cat food, some of which we will cover in this article, the best way to stop your dog from eating your cat’s food, and any other food they stumble upon too, is by means of good training.
In a perfect world, you should be able to train your dog to only eat food that they are given the go-ahead for, and to leave or ignore other dishes and food within their reach. This should be your goal, and working towards it can help to improve your dog’s impulse control when it comes to food, but how successful you are in this endeavour will greatly depend on the amenability of your own dog!
If you have a small or medium sized dog, feeding your cat on a worktop dedicated to the purpose can be a quick, simple and reliable solution to food theft, and means that your cat can have their food left out all the time, and be able to eat it without being harassed by your dog!
However, it is important to remember that some dogs can be very enterprising when it comes to food, and may even be able to work out tricks such as pushing a chair over towards the worktop in order to get a leg-up! For tall dogs that can reach the worktop by standing on their hind legs, worktop feeding may be ineffective, as your dog may still be able to reach the food or get close enough to it to bother your cat!
One effective and low cost way to keep larger dogs out of the cat food involves buying a certain type of (new and unused) litter tray, which consists of a hard plastic hood or cover with a cat flap in the front. Litter trays of this type are designed to provide cats with some privacy to do their business and stop loose litter from being kicked out onto the floor, but they can also make for an innovative solution to feeding your cat away from your dog.
Pick a covered litter tray with a cat flap in the largest size you can find (in order to allow for more floor space inside of the tray, to keep your dog from reaching the food) and place this with the door facing a wall, with just enough space for your cat to get in and out without your dog being able to poke their head in. Secure the tray to the floor or wall, in order to keep your dog from pushing the tray out and getting their head inside!
This should work for medium and large dogs, however, smaller dogs may be able to fit through the door!
Your dog should learn that there are certain no-go areas of the home, and for many people, this means keeping the dog out of the bedrooms or forbidding the dog from going upstairs altogether. If you have managed to train your dog to stay out of certain areas, you can use these to store and serve your cat’s food, and enable your cat to eat in peace without the dog around! Handled properly, your dog should remain unaware that the cat’s food is even kept up there, and they will not try to eat what they are not aware of!
You can also install a cat flap into one of your internal doors, allowing your cat to enter the room but presenting a physical barrier to dogs that simply cannot be trusted to keep out of their own volition! Using a cat flap means that you can keep the room door closed at all times, setting up a calm, quiet room for the cat to sleep and eat, and get away from the dog when they want to!