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.
First and foremost, 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, you can organize the meals so your cat and dog can eat simultaneously. Because 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 simultaneously feed the cat and dog. That’s because these pets have different eating styles.
While it’s OK for a dog to eat twice daily 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 without food for several hours. If you leave the cat food out and your cat doesn’t eat right away, you then risk your dog stealing the cat’s food.
The best option to try here is an automatic pet feeder.
Automatic pet feeders help you break up meals into smaller portions throughout the day and ensure that your pets (especially cats) never miss a meal when you’re away.
Make sure your cat loves her food
If your cat’s diet doesn’t satisfy her nutrition needs or doesn’t like its taste, she will look for something more delicious and rich in vitamins or fatty acids. Ensure your feline is happy with the recipes you give her so she won’t seek something better in your dog’s bowl. Ensure your feline is happy with the recipes you give her so she won’t seek something better in your dog’s bowl. Choose cat food that’s rich in vitamins and minerals.
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. 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 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 you don’t give her enough food. Or, she went hungry in the past and considered the dog’s food an opportunity to avoid starving again.
So, ensuring that your cat always has enough food can help 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 more in a dog’s bowl.
Do your best to devise 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 can’t reach it. But don’t make it too wide; otherwise, a cat can jump on it; plus, it will not be 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 simultaneously in different rooms, try automatic pet feeders so they can 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 she wouldn’t seek them in your dog’s food.