Preventing our dog from eating our cat's food.
Here's a simple project to allow your cat to feed at anytime while keeping your dog from chowing down. We used to isolate our cat's food from our dog by simply placing his bowl in a high place where the cat can jump, but, a place that our dog typically could not reach. Of course there's a problem with this solution. As the cat ages, he doesn't want to jump that high anymore. So we needed a new solution to allow the cat to eat anytime he wants, but keep the dog from scarfing up the cat's food. Please note if your dog is as small as your cat this system is not going to work. Our dog is a 45 pound Labrador mix of some kind, we found him abandoned in a field when he was two months old.
Just an aside. Fat Cat.
We like our cat, but he can be a pain. He will howl anytime he's hungry and he's hungry a lot! But you say, he must eat too much if he can eat anytime he wants, and your right. At one point he was FAT. We used to feed him dry food and he just got plumper and plumper. Our vet told us he has to lose weight or he may become diabetic. And he said "You don't want to have a diabetic cat on your hands, it can be a nightmare". So our vet gave us an amazingly simple solution that has worked extremely well. Our cat has lost a lot of weight and eats whenever he wants to. Our vet said you only give the cat canned wet food. Food that's almost all meat. It's the Atkins diet for our cat, and it worked well. Even our vet was impressed with our cat's weight loss.
But now the real problem is keeping the dogs weight down by preventing him for eating the cat's food also! Or dog will eat anything he finds including other animals waste! Well, he's finally growing out of the that. (See my article about how we found our dog as a two month old puppy dumped in a field.) Abandoned puppy.
We need to feed the cat on the floor!
Our cat doesn't want to jump, so now his food must be on the floor. So here's what I came up with, it takes a little work and costs about $8 dollars. Truly a small pet project.
I stopped at Walmart and picked up a 73 quart clear storage container. At the time, clear seemed like the best choice and I guess it still is. 73 quarts worked out to be just about a perfect size. In one corner I cut a hole just big enough to allow our cat to enter, but small enough that our dog can't get his head in. As you can see from the photos, I put the container on the floor upside down. It seemed easier this way. Certainly it's much easier to clean.
We've found that we don't even have to "snap" the container closed. So far our dog has left it alone. He sees and smells the cat food but he hasn't really tried to get to it which is great.
I was tempted to put in a second hole to make it easier to get the food in and out, but since we don't have to latch the lid, we just lift off the top and add new food. This second opening would have been in the side adjacent to the food location. The cut out piece of plastic would have been mounted on hinges, probably so it would open outward at the top (over design!). We put the cat's food in catty corner from the opening. This gives him room enough to fit in and eat comfortably and he can even easily turn around to walk out, without out stepping in his food! This is great, he used to sometimes howl in the middle of the night because he was hungry, now he can just feed himself again.
Becoming accustomed to the feeder.
He did take about a week to become accustomed to the container. The clear sides confused him. He would see the food but not realize how to get to it. Also we had changed his feeding location, which befuddled him as well. But all we really had to do was draw his attention to the opening for about a week. He was tentative at first about going in, so for the first try the food was in the opposite corner but I put a piece of tasty meat near the opening. This drew him halfway in and then he saw the food dish and went the rest of the way in. Now after about a week he finds the container himself and walks in whenever he wants and of course our dog can't get to the cat food.
The details, feeding the senior cat.
The opening size is 7" high, by 6" wide. In my case the opening is 3" above the lip of the inverted container. This could have been a little higher, perhaps 4" up? Once our cat was using the feeder, I found no matter how hard I tried, cat fur was building up on the opening, the edges are a little rough, so I covered them with a little electrical tape. (See the photo below)
Another trick with pets is to provide a container or material that they must stand on while they eat. Aluminum foil is a simple choice. If you make a sheet of foil big enough the cat's front paws will be on the foil while they eat. This keeps the foil and food from moving around while they lick the food. You can do the same for a dogs food bowl by attaching it to a sheet of plywood, (another article!).
You can use a drill and jigsaw to cut the hole, or I used a "dremel" tool with a "rotozip" bit in it. I marked lines for the hole with an indelible marker and just braced the dremel tool against my hand as a guide to follow the lines. It wasn't difficult to do a fairly good job. If you use the jigsaw, just drill four big holes, one at each corner of the opening and jigsaw from there. You'll end up with nice rounded corners.
The finished cat feeder
Here you can see the finished feeder, food in place with the electric tape outlining the opening. Had I applied this tape first thing, it might have made it easier for our cat to understand there was an opening to his food. This simple solution is working out very well so far.
Now we can feed our cat and dog together!
More importantly we can leave food out for our cat at night, that he can get to, so he won't howl so much! And so far our dog has left the cat food alone.
Hope this helps with your pet feeding problems,