Do you often observe your cat stealing your dog’s precious kibble? This isn’t an unusual behavior in cats, as they tend to live under the assumption that they rule the roost. Whether your cat is hungry, or simply committing a crime of opportunity, there are plenty of reasons why your cat should not be eating dog food.
Here we are going to discuss the different ways to stop your cat from eating dog food and put an end to this problem once and for all. We will also go over the reasons why you need to keep your cat from eating dog food and vice versa.
The 7 Ways of Stopping My Cat From Eating Dog Food
1. Separate All Pets During Feeding Time
If your dog and cat tend to get in the way of each other during feedings, it’s a good idea to separate them for mealtime. To do this successfully, you’ll need to place the dog’s food bowls in an entirely different part of the house than your cat’s. When it comes time to feed, make sure neither animal has access to one another while they eat their food.
Does your cat have a preferred room in the house? Try placing their food bowl in their favorite room and closing the door. Using a gate won’t do much good, as your cat will simply jump over it and head wherever else they feel like going, which may be directly to the dog food bowl.
2. Do Not Free-Feed Your Dog
If you have a cat that likes to pick off dog kibble, then free-feeding your dog is out of the question. Your cat does not need to consume heavy amounts of dog food and if you leave dog food out for your dog to graze and eat as needed, your cat will have free access to however much they want to munch on.
Not only is dog food not crafted for the nutritional needs of cats, but if your cat is allowed to freely feast on dog food, they will undoubtedly be at risk of obesity-related to overconsumption of food. Make sure you section off a space for your dog to eat and pick up the food once they have finished.
3. Feed Everyone at the Same Time
If you feed on a routine schedule and offer food to both your cat and dog at the same time, this will decrease the chances of your cat getting into the dog food. If your dog is quick to gobble up their food while your cat is busy chowing down, you may be able to eliminate the problem easily.
Keep in mind that some kitties may get a little stubborn and could stick around the dog food bowl even after their dinner has been served. If this is a problem, you should resort to making sure the two are separated at mealtime.
4. Feed Your Cat a Food They Like
There’s a chance your cat is leaning more toward the dog food out of an overall distaste for their food. If your cat is willing to walk away from their food and indulge in your pup’s dinner plate, try finding food that your cat will truly enjoy.
Cats typically take very well to wet food varieties, so if you are feeding only dry kibble to your cat, try adding a bit of wet food into their diet to entice them more.
Make sure you talk to your veterinarian before you make any drastic switches to your cat’s diet. It’s important to ensure you are feeding them high-quality food that is suitable for their specific needs. Finding tasty food may deter your cat entirely from feeling the need for thievery.
5. Put Modern Technology to Use
Automatic feeders have been around for a while but with the rapid growth in technology, there are some pretty high-tech automatic feeders on the market today. These feeders allow you to be in control of how much food is dispensed and when.
Automatic feeders can help you stay on a normal feeding routine, which can also help to keep the cat and dog out of each other’s food. You can even add in some extra tech and opt to put in a pet camera in your house. It will allow you to see what’s going on when you are away.
Observing your pets while you are away will give you a glimpse into their lives and behavior behind closed doors, which can help you decide the best course of action to take to resolve unwanted behaviors.
6. Keep Food Stored Securely
Another sure-fire way to keep those wandering kitty paws far from the dog’s food is by having the food stored securely. If you have a container or bag that is easy to open or access, you leave room for trouble. Cats are known for clawing their way into food bags and they are certainly smart enough to figure out how to open certain containers.
Take a look online or at your local pet store for dog food storage containers. There are sure to be some great options that will keep the food safely stored away. In addition, you can try putting the food up in a pantry, cupboard, or another room that the animals don’t have access to.
7. Keep Up on Clean Up
Last but certainly not least, make sure you clean up after feedings. Some dogs may vacuum up every morsel before they call it quits, but some will leave behind stragglers that can make their way all over the floors and even under furniture or appliances.
Once feeding time has wrapped up, dig out the broom or the vacuum cleaner and sweep up whatever has been left behind. Your kitty may be disappointed that you’re disposing of the leftovers they count on, but it’s for the greater good.
Why Does My Cat Keep Eating Dog Food?
If you’re wondering why your cat is so insistent on eating the dog’s food, several reasons could lead them to this habit:
To put it plain and simple, your cat may just be hungry. I’m sure you can relate to having a hard time fighting hunger pangs and keeping yourself out of the food you shouldn’t be eating. Well, turns out your cat can be just as guilty of this.
Cats have a strong sense of smell and it’s likely the scent of your dog’s food is alluring to your cat. After all, dog food is derived from meat and cats typically don’t shy away from gorging themselves on meat sources. The scent alone may draw them in.
Cats can be very finicky little creatures and texture can be a driving force in their food choices. Your cat may simply enjoy the texture of your dog’s food even more than their own. Some dog foods come with soft, meaty bites, and cats are known for digging into those. If you think it may be a texture issue, try finding cat food that has a similar texture to your dog’s food.
They Don’t Like Their Food
Again, cats can be a bit finicky at times and if they do not like the taste (or texture) of their food, you may find them gravitating toward the dogs. Make sure to offer your cat high-quality food they can’t refuse and see if that changed the bad habit around.
If your cat is lacking in nutrition and is desperate for nourishment, they may resort to eating dog food regularly. Are there other cats in the house that bully your cat out of their normal meals? Is it possible your dog sneaks around and eats all your cat’s food? Of course, you want to ensure you are feeding your cat a proper, well-balanced diet, but you also need to ensure they can eat their food without giving up their portions.
Your cat may be eating dog food out of sheer boredom. After all, leftover dog food can be fun to bat around the surface of the floor before indulging in its tastiness. Make sure your cat stays active and has plenty of things in the home to keep them occupied.
Is It Harmful to Cats to Eat Dog Food?
It is not ideal for your cat to eat dog food. There is a reason why cat and dog food are made separately. Here are some reasons why it’s not a good idea to let your cat continually eat the dog food:
Obesity is a condition that goes hand in hand with excess body fat. It is a growing problem among companion animals and can result in many different and even potentially life-threatening health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more.
Dogs and Cats Have Different Needs
Dogs and cats are entirely separate species that have different nutritional needs. Cats are obligate carnivores, while dogs are more omnivorous. They need a different balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. What is balanced for a dog is not balanced for a cat. Eating too much dog food is very unhealthy for your cat.
Your dog and cat may get along just fine but when it comes to food, you need to be cautious of the potential danger. Some dogs may become food aggressive and could lash out at your cat for eating their meal. This could result in potential injury or even death for your cat.
In some cases, the dog may do their best to be tolerant of the cat’s behavior but it’s not unheard of for them to lose patience after the cat’s repeated attempts to steal their food. Cats may even get aggressive with the dog to get to the food. Either way, it’s incredibly unsafe and a recipe for disaster.
Not only is it unhealthy for your cat to eat dog food, but it is also potentially unsafe if the dog were to become possessive over their food. The best way to keep everyone healthy and happy is to keep your cat out of dog food entirely. There are plenty of different tips and tricks you can utilize in being successful in keeping the cat from eating dog food.
Featured Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock