Although some dogs are finicky feeders, most spend their lives perpetually hunting for anything delicious. And, as multi-pet families can attest, this sometimes includes cat food.
This behavior can be problematic for a variety of reasons, and you should do everything you can to help prevent your dog from getting into the cat’s food. It isn’t always easy to do so, but there are a number of potential solutions that deserve your consideration. We’ll cover all the potential options — including dog-proof cat feeders — here!
Quick Picks: Best Dog-Proof Cat Feeders
- SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder. [Best Tech Option] Cat feeder that only opens when your cat approaches via a RFID tag or microchip reader. Includes raised side barriers to prevent your dog from getting a nibble.
- Feed-Safe Feeding Station [Best Auto-Timing Feeder] This automatic feeder dispenses your cats food in small portions throughout the day, which may be less interesting to your dog than one giant meal option.
- Felines Only Purrrfect Cat Dish [Best Low-Tech Option] A cat-friendly feeder with a plastic cover that is designed to keep out dogs, with eating openings suitable for cats. Owners have had mixed success with this one, but maybe worth a try.
Continue reading for more in-depth reviews
The Problem with Cat Food: Why Shouldn’t You Let Your Pup Eat Cat Food?
Although many owners often find it humorous when their dog tries to steal their cat’s food, this behavior can lead to a number of issues. Some of the most important include:
Reason #1: Health Concerns
Dog food and cat food have very different compositions and are designed to meet different nutritional needs of each species. And while healthy dogs are unlikely to become seriously ill from munching on a bowl full of cat food, regular consumption can cause a litany of health problems.
For starters, cat food is often richer than dog food. Many cat foods provide the bulk of their calories in the form of proteins and fats, while dog foods usually feature a significant amount of carbohydrates. In the short term, a dog eating cat food usually only leads to an upset stomach, but the long-term effects can be serious for chronic cat food thieves.
The calorie-dense nature of cat food (particularly wet foods) can lead to weight gain if your dog makes a habit of consuming the cat’s chow. Many of our dogs are already a touch on the portly side, so they certainly don’t need any extra help packing on the pounds. Obesity can lead to a number of secondary problems, ranging from arthritis to diabetes. Some dogs may even experience pancreatitis – a potentially fatal condition — after consuming a single meal with extremely high levels of fat.
Food allergies and intolerances are another concern for dogs that eat cat food. Food allergies can be caused by just about anything from artificial coloring agents to corn to beef, so it is usually wise to feed your dog his normal food, which you know he can tolerate.
Reason #2: It Establishes Bad Habits
After getting a taste of cat food, many dogs begin to prefer it to their own food. This can cause them to begin refusing their own food and waiting for you to feed the cat. This may even lead to further bad habits, such as begging at the dinner table.
Reason #3: Your Cat’s Health and Well-Being
If your dog is eating your cat’s food, chances are that your cat isn’t getting the calories and nutrients he needs. This can not only force your cat to walk around with a half-filled belly, but it can even contribute to nutritional deficiencies or weight loss.
Reason #4: Potential For Pet-on-Pet Conflict
Some cats and dogs are more defensive about their food than others, and sometimes fights can break out. Both animals can become injured in such altercations, sometimes seriously so. Additionally, conflicts and near-conflicts can saddle your pets with stress and anxiety.
Best Dog-Proof Cat Feeders: 5 Feeding Options
Now that you understand the importance of protecting your cat’s food, you’ll need to take steps to correct the issue. The easiest way to do so is by purchasing a high-quality dog-proof cat feeder, such as one of the following five. There are also a few DIY solutions that may help, which we will discuss a little later.
1. SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder
About: The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder is designed to keep food under lock and key, until the pet with the proper RFID tag or microchip approaches. This signals the feeder to open, allowing the desired pet to feed in peace.
- Key Benefits: Prevents food stealing and stress at mealtimes in multi-pet homes, keeps your pets...
- Great for Pets on Prescription Diets: Holds 13.5 fl. oz, wet or dry pet food. The lid closes to form...
- Airtight storage keeps the food Microchip Compatibility: Works with 9 (Avid Secure), 10 (FDXA) and...
- Three Year Warranty. Veterinarian Recommended.
- Clear plastic cover keeps food sealed tightly and preserves freshness
- Compatible with all SureFlap RFID Collar Tags and identification microchips
- Feeding dish can be programmed to work for as many as 32 different microchips or tags
- Side barriers help keep your dog from sneaking bites while your cat is eating
Most owners reported that this dish works exactly as advertised and helps to keep their pooch from raiding their cat’s food. Most owners explained that their cat learned to use the feeding dish quickly and without any fear or hesitation.
While most owners were pleased with the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder, a few noted that it did not close quickly enough after their cat left. While this isn’t a problem for cats that eat all of their food in one sitting, it may represent a problem for owners of cats who prefer to graze several times throughout the day.
2. Felines Only Purrrfect Cat Dish
About: The Purrrfect Cat Dish features a large plastic shroud, which will easily accommodate your cat’s small head, while keeping Fido’s muzzle safely separated from the delicious food.
Because there are no moving parts, there aren’t many things that can break or go wrong with this dog-proof cat feeder, and you won’t have to worry about batteries either.
- KEEPS DOGS OUT: The Purrrfect Cat Dish was created by a veterinarian just for felines and is...
- LESS ODORS AND SPILLS: This cat food dish keeps cat food odors in and cat food spills to a minimum -...
- EASY TO MOVE AND DISHWASHER SAFE: The Felines Cat Food Bowl is built with an external handle for...
- QUALITY DESIGN: This unique cat product is specially designed with twin bowls, just for your cat,...
- Plastic shroud also helps contain spills and odors
- The entire unit is dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze
- Comes with rubber feet, double-faced tape and screws to provide stability
- Features a plastic carrying handle to make the dish easy to move around
Most owners love the Purrrfect Cat Dish and are pleased with its ability to keep Fido out of their cat’s food dish. Many are also happy with the simplicity of the unit and the fact that it helps keep the feeding area free of kibble and splashed water.
A few owners state that small dogs are sometimes able to access the food, although such reports are relatively rare. A few owners also feel like the quality of the materials and craftsmanship leaves a little to be desired, but this is to be expected from such an affordable product.
3. Feed-Safe Feeding Station
About: The Feed-Safe Feeding Station works by automatically dispensing up to 4 small, pre-portioned meals to your cat. The big benefit for this feeder is that the dishes are very small, making it a bit more difficult for your dog to sneak in and get a taste while your cat is eating.
- SCHEDULE MEALS AND TREATS: One meal is ready to eat as soon as you fill the tray with your pet’s...
- FOOD CAPACITY: Each compartment holds up to 1 cup of dry or semi-moist pet food; feeder is best for...
- GREAT FOR FAST EATERS: If your cat or dog tends to eat too quickly, use this feeder to break their...
- MULTIPLE OPTIONS: Press the “feed now” button to give your pet an extra meal; Suspend feeding...
- Smaller portions may be less appealing to your pooch
- Auto-feed your cat up to 4 portions each day
- Features built-in digital clock and LCD display
- Tray can be removed for easy cleaning
The smaller portions should be less inviting to your dog, and the automatic feeding is handy for when you’re away.
While the smaller dishes allow your cat to hover over her food better, a confident dog could easily still scare your cat away and dig in on the dinner.
4. OurPets Wonder Bowl Selective Feeder
About: The Wonder Bowl Selective Feeder only opens to allow access to the food with your cat walks by wearing the included electronic collar tag.
This provides you with additional flexibility, as the feeder can be used to protect the food of any of your pets, including other dogs.
- Perfect for multi-pet homes (small cats and dogs)
- Keeps food fresh
- Prevents kids and unwanted pets from getting into pet's food
- D Batteries not included, AC adaptor sold separately, Kindly refer to manual and video for...
- Sturdy design ensures that the dish will not slip and slide across the floor
- Electronic tag requires CR2032 battery, while feeding dish requires three D batteries
- Stainless steel feeding dish is removable and dishwasher safe
- Dish holds up to 1 ½ cups dry kibble
Many owners report being quite pleased with the Wonder Bowl Selective Feeder, and find that it solves their problems immediately. Most explain that it is easy to set up and doesn’t require any assembly. The electronic tag’s built-in battery life indicator is also appreciated by most owners.
Several owners who tried the Wonder Bowl Selective Feeder complained about the need to replace the batteries very frequently. Also, several people lament the fact that the product only comes with an electronic tag and requires you to supply your own collar.
DIY Options: How to Keep Dog From Eating Cat Food
While a dog-proof cat feeder is generally the most effective way to stop the average cat food thief, occasionally, owners are unable to find one that works satisfactorily. But don’t worry, you can still keep your dog out of your cat’s food dish. You just need to use a little creativity.
Most of the following solutions are incredibly simple, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective.
Elevate the Food
One of the best ways to manage a mixed-species household is by leveraging the leaping and climbing abilities of cats. Most adult cats can easily jump on a standard countertop or table, while few dogs are able to access such elevated locations (although some pups are skilled at jumping on counters).
However, encouraging your cat to jump up on your kitchen counter or table is not the most hygienic notion in the world.
Your cat’s paws are somewhat filthy, and you don’t want him smearing germs all over the same counter you use to make breakfast for your family. Accordingly, you’ll want to provide him with some other elevated place in which he can eat.
This needn’t be anything elaborate; a simple utility table placed in some out-of-the-way location will work well. You can also create any number of shelves or platforms (there are even commercially manufactured cat shelves available) that attach to your walls or are suspended from the ceiling.
Anything your cat can access safely will work – your imagination is the only limitation.
Build an Exclusion Feeder
You can build your own version of a dog-proof cat feeder by creating a cage or container in which you can place your cat’s food. You’ll then need to prepare some type of door or entrance that allows your cat to enter the container, but is small enough to deny your dog access to the interior. This is usually easiest to accomplish when your cat and dog are drastically different sizes.
In its simplest form, this solution requires nothing more than a big plastic storage box with a suitably sized whole cut into the top or side. There are a million ways to build an exclusion feeder, so feel free to use your imagination.
Use a Selective Pet Door
Of course, you can take the size-exclusion principle to the next level by using a selective pet door, like the Carlson Walk Through Gate with Pet Door. These gates are built like standard dog gates, except that they also feature a small, free-swinging pet door, which will allow small pets to pass through.
By using one of these, you can just keep your dog out of the kitchen (or whichever room you feed your cat in), and feed your cat on the floor as you normally would. Once your cat has finished, you can clean up the dishes and open the pet door.
However, this is not an ideal solution for owners of cats who like to graze on their food over the course of the day, as you’ll need to keep your dog excluded for long periods of time.
Feed in a Separate Room
Although it so simple that it seems disingenuous to call it a “solution,” simply feeding your cat in a room your dog can’t access is the easiest way to keep your dog’s muzzle out of the cat’s dish. You may need to experiment to find a place your cat feels comfortable eating, but if you keep trying, you’ll eventually find a place that works for you and your cat.
While it can be challenging to keep your dog out of your cat’s food (particularly after he’s developed a taste for it), most of the above-mentioned products and solutions will provide some degree of success. Just keep trying solutions until you find the one that works for you and your pets.
Creativity can often provide a number of viable solutions to this problem, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different approaches. Just be sure to keep your pet’s safety in mind and avoid using anything that may be toxic or dangerous while engineering a solution.
We’d love to hear about any clever solutions we didn’t already mention. Let us know what has worked for you (including any dog-proof cat feeder that has proven helpful) in the comments below.