Put the Cat Food Up High
|They were just sitting on my lap like that.|
Dog can reach the counter? Put the cat food on top of the refrigerator. Dog can get on top of the refrigerator? Put the cat food on top of a tall bookshelf. Dog can get on top of the bookshelf? Mount shelves on the wall. I had been feeding my cats on a windowsill until Godzilla discovered that she could climb on furniture to get up there, now I feed them on the cat shelves I added a few months ago.
Make a Cats-Only Zone
You can use a baby gate to keep your dog out of one room, but I still highly recommend putting the cat food up high anyway. That way your dog won't have an incentive to bulldoze through the gate for an easy snack. If your dog is bigger than your cat (I'm looking at you, Ru.), you can also put a hook or a nail in the wall near the door frame, and loop a string from there around the doorknob so the door only opens a crack. This works well if you have a dog that can jump babygates. Again, put the cat food somewhere inaccessible so your dog won't have an instant reward for thwarting your plans.
The string and door method also works for cabinets, and can help make a dog-proof place at ground-level for cats with mobility issues.
There are some interesting products out there for solving this particular issue, though I have my doubts about them. SureFlap now makes a SureFeed bowl that reads your cat's microchip and only opens for the right cat. This seems like a good solution for feeding two cats separately, or keeping your small or mildly interested dog out of the cat food. I can't imagine it would thwart a large or determined dog. There are several other smart feeders out there, I plan to write more about them in the future.
The Feed-Safe is a plastic dome that you stick your cat in to feed them. You can lock the main door, and there is an escape flap that will let them out but cannot be opened from the outside. This doesn't allow the cat the access their food anytime though, you have to put them inside there. I can also imagine a large dog knocking this thing around like a giant puzzle ball.
No matter what you do to keep the cat food out of the dog, make sure you do something effective. Take several different measures if you can. The last thing you want to do is enter an arms race where your dog continually learns new skills. Example: Cat food on floor of bedroom with large piece of cardboard across doorway. Dog learns to push down cardboard so you replace it with a pressure-mounted babygate. Dog learns to push that over so you put the cat food up on a dresser. Dog learns to push down babygate and stand up to reach top of dresser, so you move the food to a higher shelf. Dog learns to climb on top of dresser to reach shelf. If you had started with both the babygate and the food on the shelf, the dog probably wouldn't have had the motivation to learn how to push the babygate down in the first place.
Do you have both a cat and a dog? How do you dog-proof your cat's food?