Friday, April 26, 2013

Dog-Proof Cat Feeding Station

As soon as we got our yellow Lab, Jodie, I knew we were going to have a cat food problem.  Like most cats, Pax likes to eat when he wants to, so we always left dry food out for him all day and gave him canned food in the morning and at night.  But he didn't even wolf that down--sometimes it was still half eaten a few hours after we put it out for him.  And of course dogs love cat food because it's rich and smells so delightfully nasty.

So I did the thing that I never thought I would do...the thing that anyone who knows me never thought I'd do.  I let my cat eat on the kitchen table.  

But it really bothered me, and of course Pax abused the privilege.  He got up on the table not just to eat but to lounge.  And to put himself in a position where he could take a swipe at the dog's head when she went past.

So two weeks into having Jodie, I decided I had had enough of Pax on the table.  Doug had talked about making him a dog-proof feeding station, and we looked at some pictures online.  

Places like Orvis sell them, but they're like pieces of furniture--they take up a lot of space, which we don't have, and they're expensive. I do love the expressions on the dogs' faces as they look longingly at the kitty gourmet feasts in these ads:

This one is sold by a woodworker, who is obviously very talented.  But who needs a dovetailed cat feeding box, especially when the prices are $450 for a small one and $600 for the large?

I knew Doug could make something nice (although he did warn me that I wouldn't get dovetailed joints), but he has no time.  Right now, in between photo shoots at the University, he's trying to get the porch renovated at our beach cottage.

So two nights ago, I decided to take things into my own hands.  We have a freestanding butcher block in the corner of our kitchen where I feed the dog and store the pet food.  I was using the space underneath to store canned foods in a vintage wooden box, but I decided that I was willing to sacrifice the space if it would let me safely feed the cat.  I cleared everything out and scrounged around the kitchen for something to use as a barrier.  

Aha--a grid-type cooling rack for cookies was just the thing and the perfect size.  At first I thought I would need two--one for each of the open sides where the block wasn't against a wall.  But then I realized that if I positioned my "tower of tins" just right, I could leave a space that was just the right size for Pax to pass through.  Here he is, eating in it just minutes after I got it set up:

Initially, since Doug was out when I was doing this, I fastened the cookie rack with just a large rubberized twist tie (the green thing on the left leg in the photo above).

But when Doug got home, he helped me install four plastic cable ties so that it would be tightly fastened in place at all four corners:

I love this shot because they're both eating at the same time (although it's hard to see Pax):

And I was able to keep my tins, which store (from the top down) treats for both of them, kibble for Pax, and kibble for Jodie. After all, even even pets need vintage storage containers.

I'm thrilled with the results--it was a no-cost, no-Doug-needed solution to a problem.  And I'm posting it here in the hope that it might give other pet owners an idea for how they might adapt a similar space in their own houses for cat-food-stealing dogs.


  1. Thanks. I have been looking to do something like this. I have considered getting the one from Improvements, but it is pricey and I think it will take too much space in my small house. (It's not a Sears house, but is from 1910, so still the same era). This helps provide some ideas beyond what I have found on the IKEA Hack sites.

  2. I'm so glad it's helpful! It really was easy to do and cost almost nothing. And it has worked perfectly for us. Good luck!

  3. This is the best idea ever!! I live in a tiny house and don't have room to add more furniture to my already cramped space. I've been trying to create barricades by piling random things around the cat food bowls, but my sneaky dog always manages to get through. I thought I was going to have to just start putting their food on the kitchen counter, but I will try this first!

    Thank you!

  4. This is the best idea ever! I live in a tiny house and just don't have room to add any more furniture in my already cramped space. I've been trying to create barricades with random stuff around the cat food bowls to keep my dog out, but he's pretty crafty and I always come home to completely empty cat food bowls and hungry cats!

  5. I hope it works for you, Cora! It has been foolproof for us as long as I keep the tins in the right place! It's so funny how, when it's time for both of our pets to get treats, the cat runs right into his feeding station and waits for his!

  6. The "no cost, no-Doug-needed solution" has been very very helpful. Thank you for the idea catpal52!

  7. Funny, this has turned out to be my most-popular post ever. And now we feed the cat upstairs :-)

  8. I realize I'm nearly 3 years late to this party, but just wanted to say thanks for this. I have a nearly 17 year old cat and a 14 year old dog we rescued last year. I figured feeding the cat on the table wasn't that big of a deal but with his age and arthritis, it kind of is. I have a plastic version of the items you mentioned above and the dog just turned the thing over and got the cat food out anyway. But we have something similar to what you posted that I think maybe we can rope off for the cat. I hope.