Dog Proofing Your Cat Dish
Your dogs might spend an inordinate amount of time plotting how to get the cat's dinner, but letting their shenanigans continue isn't desirable, even if it does produce an endless stream of amusing videos to post online. Cat food isn't good for dogs -- they have different nutritional needs -- and you won't be able to keep a track of how much either animal is eating. Outwitting your dog should not, however, take much effort.
Cats are smaller than most dogs, and herein lies one method of dog-proofing. Simply place a cover -- for example, the top half of an indoor rabbit cage -- over the food dish. If the entry is small enough that the cat can go in but the dog can't, that's the dish dog-proofed. Secure the cover so the dog can't tip it over. If you feed your pets outside, tent pegs would do the trick.
Cats are also more agile than dogs. Feeding Kitty on a raised surface might be the answer to the food problem, although bear in mind that this could encourage the cat to spend more time on your kitchen counters -- not a particularly desirable or hygienic outcome. If the feeding surface is noticeably different from others, for example at the top of a cat tower, this might not happen. Sectioning off the cat's feeding room with a baby gate usually works -- cats can climb over these gates but most dogs can't. Just open the gate when you want your dog to have access to the room again.
Timing is the simplest solution, with the aim of having the animals in different rooms at mealtimes. Establish different mealtimes for your pets, preferably with the cat fed later so the dog isn't hungry and frustrated. Neither dogs nor cats need to have food constantly available, although they should both have plenty of water. For example, if you feed your animals in the kitchen, feed the dog, call him to another room once he's eaten, close the door and feed the cat about half an hour later. Alternatively, feed the dog in one room, close the door, and feed the cat at the same time in another.
Training is probably the least effective way of preventing a dog from doing something so rewarding. You could try, for example, by carefully supervising all mealtimes and reprimanding or pulling away your dog every time he tries to steal a bite from the cat's dish. The most likely result, however, is that the dog will just wait until your attention is elsewhere before stealing. Unless you wish to spend time watching your pets eat every single meal, relying on training alone probably isn't worth it.
By Judith Willson
About the Author
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.