How can I stop my sister's dog from enabling my cat's obesity?
January 20, 2010 4:29 PM   Subscribe

How can I stop my sister's dog from enabling my cat's obesity?

I have a small, relatively young cat who used to be pretty healthy. This changed when my sister and I moved into an apartment together, bringing the cat and dog with us. Now, while I feed my cat the same amount of food that I always do, she usually snacks on the dog's food as well, resulting in significant weight gain. My cat is a chubby, hungry ninja, so there is no place we can put the dog food where the cat can't get to it and the dog can.

I play with my cat for at least 15-20 minutes a night, sometimes longer. She's gotten over her excitement about laser pointers, remote control mice get clogged up in the carpet (did I mention that the dog has a lot of fur?), she DOES NOT like to walk on a leash, and my sister's dog has been systematically destroying all stuffed/ squeaky/ mobile toys that I get her. Suggestions?
posted by _cave to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Its not the dog who is enabling the cat, its the dog feeder.

Give the dog just enough food for it to eat in one go. Then no food remains for the cat to eat.
posted by Kerasia at 4:37 PM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

the dog should not have food out all the time. in my experience, dogs should generally be fed so that they eat the entire portion that is given, medical conditions notwithstanding.
posted by gnutron at 4:40 PM on January 20, 2010

Agree with not letting the dog graze.

Also - feed the dog outside. Or in a crate. Or keep the cat in another room while dog is fed.

Also also - change dog food to a bigger size of kibble that is more difficult for a cat to eat.

IANA Vet, but from what I've read, cats eating dog food is more harmful than dogs eating cat food, because cats have a more delicate system.
posted by desjardins at 4:44 PM on January 20, 2010

What Kerasia said. Friend of mine used to feed her dog for half an hour, then she'd remove the dish. Her dog would overeat if it had a chance (unlike mine, who is self-regulating, so I can leave her food out and she eats when she's hungry.) Is it possible to keep the cat away from the feeding area for half an hour or so? The dog will be unhappy about the new restrictions at first, but he'll get used to it soon.
posted by bentley at 4:47 PM on January 20, 2010

The dog will also very quickly learn that if he wants to eat, he'd better do it within that half hour window.
posted by desjardins at 4:57 PM on January 20, 2010

I had this problem with 2 cats. I took the slender cat's food and put it high above (since she went there anyways) on top of the cupboards.

That way, the slender cat didn't get its food stolen by fatty.

Find someplace your fatty can't access...and the dog can...and put the food there.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:43 PM on January 20, 2010

Used to live with two cats and a dog. Solution was: pour food in dog's bowl. Stand by bowl. Dog thought I was interested in the food so he ate it. Cats came by later to sniff and lick crumbs.
posted by dfriedman at 9:56 PM on January 20, 2010

Agree with the others. Quit free-feeding the dog.

When my dog was a puppy he had 20-30 minutes to eat before I took his food away. There were a few days here and there where he wasn't interested and, thus, didn't get to eat. Now he eats it all in one go, as soon as it hits his bowl. 10 minutes, tops.
posted by toomuchpete at 4:39 AM on January 21, 2010

I'm not able to free-feed my two labs, so that's generally not a problem in my home. The easiest way is to only feed the dog twice a day. Put the dog in a seperate room or its crate and leave the food out for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes take it up, even if the dog didn't eat it all. It will be difficult for the dog for the first few days especially if the dog is accustomed to eating whenever it feels like, as it might not eat all the food during mealtime. Believe me, it won't take long for him/her to figure it out. Just stick to the amounts listed on the bag to make sure dog is getting enough food. Once dog realizes that he/she is only going to get food at those times it will eat all the food at mealtime. Of course, if there is a specific medical reason why the dog must have constant access to food, this won't work.

There are other options, but if you're in an apartment, they're probably not practical... You could install a dog door that has a special tag that you put on the dog's collar to limit access to ONLY the dog into a bedroom or wherever you want to feed the dog. This would be pretty costly, and you have to cut a hole in an existing door to do this, which is something I don't think many people would want to do... But if the dog does have special needs, this would be one way to accomplish seperating the cat from the dog's constant food source.

IANA vet, but a cat snacking on dog food shouldn't be too dangerous if it's eating cat food as well, because it is still getting the necessary Taurine that their bodies cannot make on its own. Of course, if the added caloric intake of the dog food is contributing to weight gain, efforts must be made to keep kitty out of the food.
posted by ganzhimself at 7:25 AM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions! We've stepped up the kibble size already, and are taking up the food bowl while at work (this may have seemed obvious to some, but all of the dogs that I've ever had have been free-fed). Of course, the next question to post is: how to I stop my cat from bitching at me because she doesn't have access to the dog food anymore?
posted by _cave at 4:51 PM on January 22, 2010

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