As a pet lover, you know that cats are fussy eaters. And yet, most of them eat dog food from time to time, grabbing some extra bites from your dog’s bowl. Often, it happens because stealing is typical behavior for felines. And while occasional quick meals aren’t that dangerous, it’s better to stop cats from eating dog food.
The first and foremost reason is that dogs and cats have different nutrition needs. As obligate carnivores, cats will miss tons of essential amino acids and lack taurine and arginine if they eat dog food. Plus, most dog food recipes contain cereal, which is not useful for cats to eat.
The only way to stop cats from eating dog food is to control the cat’s access to it.
Here are five tips to stop cats from eating dog food.
Say no to free-feeding your dog
If there’s no dog food out, your cat can’t steal it. So the solution is to stop free-feeding your dog and put him on scheduled meals.
For most owners, feeding dogs two times a day is enough to provide them with all the necessary nutrients. You don’t have to align a dog’s meals with the clock: Just give him one portion in the morning and one more – in the afternoon when you are at home or dinner when you eat. And while your dog is eating, close the door to keep a cat out or play with your feline to take her mind off the dog’s food.
Feed cat and dog at the same time
If you are a pet owner who doesn’t welcome free-feeding anyway, you can organize the meals so that your cat and dog could eat at the same time. Given that cats are naturally curious creatures, the joint feeding can prevent yours from picking up on the smell of dog food and grabbing it, as she’ll be busy investigating her bowl.
Consider feeding your cat and dog in different rooms. That will prevent a feline from seeing and smelling a dog’s food, so she concentrates on her treats. Once both pets finish their meals, clean up any food debris so the cat can’t find it.
Use automatic pet feeders
Some vet experts would disagree with the recommendation to feed the cat and dog at the same time. That’s because these pets have different eating styles.
While it’s OK for a dog to eat twice a day by gulping the whole portion at once, cats tend to nibble small pieces throughout the day. So your cat will feel hungry if you leave her with no food for several hours. If you leave the cat food out and your cat doesn’t eat right away, you then run the risk your dog will steal the cat’s food.
The best option to try here is an automatic pet feeder.
Place feeders for both the dog and cat on opposite sides of your kitchen and stagger feeding times accordingly. Your pets will anticipate the routine soon, and they’ll stop stealing the food from each other’s bowls.
Make sure your cat loves her food
If your cat’s diet doesn’t satisfy her nutrition needs, or she simply doesn’t like its taste, she will look for something more delicious and rich in vitamins or fatty acids. Ensure that your feline is happy with the recipes you give her so that she won’t seek something better in your dog’s bowl.
Consult your vet to find out what nutrients to give your cat, ask if your chosen food contains all the necessary elements, and request some alternative options to try. Keep an eye on your cat for a while to see how enthusiastic she is about her food and what recipes she likes most. If your feline enjoys what she eats, she may lose interest in your dog’s diet.
Another reason why a cat might want to steal a dog’s food is that she is hungry. It may happen when she is on a diet, or when you don’t give her enough food. Or, she went hungry in the past and considers the dog’s food an opportunity to avoid starving again.
So, ensuring that your cat always has enough food to eat can help to reduce the problem. If your cat is on a restricted diet to lose weight or because of health problems, it may take some time before she gets used to it and stop seeking for more in a dog’s bowl.
Do your best to come up with some creative ways to stop a cat from eating a dog’s food. For example, if you have a large dog, try placing his bowl on an elevated platform so a cat couldn’t reach it. But don’t make it too wide; otherwise, a cat can jump on it; plus, it will be not comfortable for a dog to eat his food.
Or, you can store dog food in plastic containers with a lid to keep a cat out. Or, place a bowl inside an indoor dog fence so your cat can’t reach it.
Bottom line: Stop cats from eating dog food
The most effective method to stop cats from eating dog food is to limit their access. Feed your pets at the same time in different rooms, try automatic pet feeders so they could anticipate the routine and “forget” each other’s bowls, or consider feeding the dog from an elevated platform so the feline can’t reach it.
Ensure your cat is not hungry, and she likes the food you give her. Ask a vet for feeding recommendations to satisfy your feline’s nutritional needs so that she wouldn’t seek them in your dog’s food.