Natural Dog Food + Vitamins & Minerals

Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Food? (And How to Stop It)

Why Does My Dog Eat Cat Food? (And How to Stop It)

Well, can you blame him? Some dogs love cat food because cat food has higher levels of fat and protein than dog food. Cat food is also designed to smell savory...which is just another irresistible draw for dogs in search of a treat! Unfortunately, if your dog makes a habit of eating cat food, that extra fat and protein can quickly lead to weight gain.

It will take some adjustments to your usual feeding routine, but it’s absolutely possible to resolve the issue, either by training your dog to ignore the cat’s meals or by removing the opportunity entirely.

How to Train Your Dog to Stop Eating Cat Food

  • Start by making bowls of food distinguishable. To be fair to your dog, it may be hard to tell the difference between a bowl full of kibble that he’s supposed to eat, and a bowl full of kibble that’s off limits. Help your dog out by making the bowls of kibble look very different from each other. Try different bowl sizes and colors, and if you have a placemat under your pets’ bowls, make sure they’re different too.
  • Teach your dog the “Leave It” command. (The AKC has a great tutorial here!) Once your dog knows “Leave It”, introduce cat food and repeat until he can successfully ignore the food. It can take daily practice for a few weeks, but stay consistent with your training and you’ll get it together!

Remove the Opportunity for Your Dog to Eat Cat Food

The best way to keep your dog from eating cat food is to separate your pets when food is out. Start by moving your cat’s bowl to another room — one your dog can’t get to. If your dog never has access to the cat’s food, he’ll never get the opportunity to steal it! Here are some options:

  • If you have a small dog, set up a sturdy baby gate that only your cat can jump over. Stacked baby gates work great in case you have a great jumper like a terrier! (However, stacked baby gates are not safe for human children.)
  • If you have a large dog, install a small cat-flap in the door or set up a tall baby gate in the doorway with a small opening for your cat. That way your cat has free access to her food, but your dog doesn’t.
  • Put your dog in his crate until your cat is finished eating. Put away any uneaten food when she’s finished.
  • Move your cat’s food to a room with a door that shuts, and keep the door shut until she’s finished eating.
  • If you don’t have a separate room for your cat’s food, put the cat’s bowl on a high surface like a counter, dresser, washing machine, cat tree, or a bookshelf. Most cats have no trouble jumping to high places that a dog can’t reach. (My aunt’s cat used to eat her meals on top of the refrigerator!)

The bottom line: Don’t leave cat food out when your dog has plenty of opportunities to sneak over and grab a few bites. If you’re used to leaving food out throughout the day, it may take a while to get your pets used to eating their meals in full on a schedule. However, the benefits of a feeding schedule and removing any food that isn't eaten in 10-20 minutes is definitely worth it.

It’ll take some gentle, consistent guidance and a change in routine, but we have all the confidence in the world that you’ll be able to help your dog stop eating cat food. It’s also important to remember that no matter his vice, make sure the foundation of your dog’s diet is a complete and balanced blend of food that’s tailored for his nutritional needs and preferences like Just Right by Purina.

With dog food created just for him, he won’t even think about eating cat food.

Join the Conversation


June 16, 2018 at 1:52 PM Reply
ho sin
at my house we dont use the cat door.we lock the cat in the room till she is done.If she does not eat it all,we take it away.
September 14, 2018 at 2:41 PM Reply
Keith Brown
I have the same problem. My Australian Terrier can jump high and climb.
October 12, 2018 at 6:37 AM Reply
Katie at Just Right
If your dog's a jumper, try feeding your cat in a room with a door that closes so your dog can't get in, and remove the food when your cat is finished eating. (Ho Sin has the right idea!)
October 17, 2018 at 1:09 PM Reply
Ali Mirza
Nice Blog
August 28, 2018 at 10:18 AM Reply
Emma Gwozdzicki
My cat is disabled so moving the food to another room won't help I need more advice. Seeing the vet tomorrow. Hopefully he can help.
September 30, 2018 at 4:12 PM Reply
Katie at Just Right
Can you put your dog in a separate room with a closed door while your cat eats, then take the food away when your cat is finished? Hope your veterinarian had some good ideas for you too! :)
October 17, 2018 at 1:11 PM Reply
Sherry Miller
My problem is the cat food is outside. We have tried to move it to the picnic table when she goes out but she will jump on the seat then to the table. Then the cats will jump on the table and I don't like them on the table.
October 25, 2018 at 2:30 PM Reply
My 2 cats have big personalities so feeding them at intervals causes chaos in my house. If food is not readily available, as it should be for cats and dogs are feed at intervals, then my cats will start to get angry. Cat food on the counter is not ideal, who wants cat fur on their kitchen counters? nonetheless them constantly jumping up onto your sanitary kitchen counter where your food goes? This should be more on training your dog not to eat cat food and training them to know that’s not their food vs just keeping it separate. None of these options are ideal.
November 27, 2018 at 5:55 PM Reply
I couldn’t agree with you more about this! Exactly. Cats are able to eat when they want and not go overboard. They simply don’t eat what they don’t like. Dogs sometimes eat everything in site. It’s annoying the cats have to make all the changes.
January 14, 2019 at 2:47 PM Reply
Erin Bowman
I have no idea what to do. Me and my boyfriend, we've tried everything, and our dog is still eating our cat's food. She always does it, in the middle of the night, or when we're not home. I have no idea what to do. Please let me know. Thank you.

February 13, 2019 at 7:10 PM Reply
Billie Jean Manning
What do you do when you work. Should I leave my cat in the bathroom with the litter box and his food while I'm away at work during the day. So my dog don't eat the cat food. Looking for advice.
May 23, 2019 at 12:59 AM Reply
My dog is a small pupper. She weighs in at 13 pounds and has for 2 years. The vet says that is a perfect weight for her. However she love the cats food. I think it is a combination of the taste and the fact that her teeth are so tiny ,the cat food is easier for her to chew. Where can I find a dog food for tiny toothed dogs?
October 9, 2019 at 8:48 AM Reply