Given the opportunity, most dogs will eat cat food. Even the hungriest cats may not square off against food-bent dogs, so it's up to you to intervene. There are numerous dog-proof cat feeder designs, but most share elements you can use at home -- cats can access them but dogs can't.
Cats generally are slower, finickier eaters than their canine brethren. Many felines can't or won't fight off overzealous dogs who shows interest in their food. As such, you need to create a peaceful, dog-free venue for your cat to eat.
If you're feeding your cat daily meals, there's an easy fix. Simply sequester your dog in another room during your cat's mealtime, perhaps with his own food or treat. After you cat is finished, store or throw away excess food and let the dog out.
This isn't an option for everyone though, particularly if you want to free-feed your cats. As such, you may want to make your own dog-food cat feeder.
A quick survey of dog-proof cat feeders online reveals the common feature by which they function: cats access the interior of a closed-in space that literally bars dogs from entry.
Make a dog-proof cat feeder from child-proofing gates, fencing, wooden slats, or any manner of materials. The key is to create an enclosed area that has entries small enough for a cat, but too big for a dog.
It's easier to make holes or spacing larger than smaller, so start at the compressed end of the spectrum and expand. Your cat uses his whiskers to gauge his ability to fit into places -- a fact you can use in your plans.
It's wise to install an opening through which you can remove bowls easily for cleaning and filling. A door or lid usually fits the bill.
Reaching for Other Solutions
If you don't have the time or materials necessary to make a homemade dog-proof cat feeder, consider spatial options.
Cats can jump great heights and typically have few problems reaching counter spaces or shelves that largely are inaccessible to dogs. Pet injury and age can necessitate quick changes, so maintain a backup plan.Trial and error can lead you to a peaceful, dog-free space for your cat to eat.
Water is another concern. A dog typically drinks enough water to replace 6 percent of his body weight in an hour, while a cat takes about 24 hours to perform the same feat. Make sure that water access gets proper treatment in your dog-proof cat feeding plans.
Nutritional and Behaviorial Issues
Cat food, naturally, is engineered for cat's nutrition. It's got a lot of proteins and fats that aren't good for a dog's gastrointestinal tract, and it's higher in calories than dog food. A dog can survive on cat food, but he's going to get fat and have stomach issues.
Most dogs are drawn naturally to cat food, but if your pooch displays a seemingly insatiable lust for it, consider the volume and variety of his daily fodder. It's probably best to avoid cat food as dog food filler, according to veterinarian Patty Khuly, who recommends some oatmeal and eggs, instead.
On a related note, cats can't survive on dog food.
- National Research Council of the National Academies: Your Cat's Nutritional Needs -- A Science-Based Guide for Pet Owners
- National Research Council of the National Academies: Your Dog's Nutritional Needs -- A Science-Based Guide for Pet Owners
- American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Feeding Dogs Cat Food