Babyproof Pet Food Dishes

How do you keep pet food dishes away from a baby?

My first child, Little Miss, didn’t give a damn about our dishes, kitchen cabinets, climbable furniture and other problematic issues. Perfect kid.

Our second child, 10-month-old The Hulk Little Brother, is a giggling menace. I googled for a solution and hit upon two pet-owner themes:

Option A. Place the food bowls in a gated area, usually the kitchen or where litter boxes are located. Cats jump over the fence; dogs are manually given entrance.

Option B. Let your pets starve to death.

How is it that the Babyproofing Industrial Complex has not sought a solution to this problem? Imagine the fear it could strike in new parents by reminding them that a crawling baby could drown to death in a mere inch of water in Fluffy’s water bowl.

My preferred solution is to invent electronic feeding bowls mounted to a shared base, with automated self-sealing lids.

Step 1: Fluffy wears a wireless beacon on her collar.

Step 2: When Fluffy approaches the bowls, Fluffy’s presence is identified and the lids slide open for pet access. When Fluffy leaves, the lids slide closed again.

Step 3: Little Brother wears a wireless beacon on his collar.

Step 4: When Little Brother crawls or walks near the bowls, if the lids are open with a pet eating, they slide closed for safety. A recording of an angry cat or barking dog (user-selectable) plays to scare the pet away from the dish, thus ensuring whiskers don’t get caught in the closure.

Step 5: If Little Brother attempts to push or pick up the bowls, he discovers a 30lb weighted base that quashes any such attempt.

Step 5 Alternate: A sensor detects bowl movement, causing a mild electric charge to gently caress the surface of the bowl, thus dissuading Little Brother from further shenanigans.

Such a device would solve our other problem. We have two cats, one obese and one skinny. We could prevent Cat A from eating all of Cat B’s food if the dishes only opened for the appropriate cat. Oh well.

In lieu of a marvelous invention, we are handling the baby the same way we handle ants — the cat dishes have been placed out-of-reach on our dinner table. The cats figure it out pretty quick. Oh, and I’m not baiting the baby with ant poison.

What has been your solution?


9 Responses to “Babyproof Pet Food Dishes”

  1. RobMonroe says:

    Our vet told us long ago that we weren’t supposed to leave food out all day for the pets anyway, so we went with the “put it away” option. I think that you might make a fortune on your invention…

    As an aside, now that our daughter is 20 months old, feeding the dog is her first assigned chore. She does it with gusto, and her hands, and the dog is okay with it because she usually feeds a little more than we would. (Mom is not a fan of the dog-food-hands, but I’m sure to wash!)

    February 9th, 2009 at 5:00 am

  2. Shannon says:

    We don’t free feed, so we put our dogs dish up on the counter when the baby is awake. But he has access to an extra water dish in our bedroom, where she doesn’t spend much time. If it was summer, I would just leave it down and let her splash in the water.

    February 9th, 2009 at 5:20 am

  3. Dave T. says:

    like Rob we only put down the dog’s food 2x a day but the water, that’s another problem. K1 is a year old and he’s very into the water dish. He charged from living room to kitchen in a few seconds with an eye on the bowl like his life depends on it. Gets there. Sits up, slams hand into the water bowl and then splashes the water onto the floor/himself. It’s lovely. Basically we lift up the bowl after 1st attempt of the day and put it down at feeding times when he’s not allowed around anyway. But yeah, only other solution is to gate it off all the time, but then dog can’t get in. Surprised there hasn’t been a solution for this of some kind.

    On a side note we’ve been shocked with how gentle our dog has been with K1. He has even grabbed her kibble while she’s eating and she doesn’t do anything. Very lucky.

    February 9th, 2009 at 11:13 am

  4. Katrina says:

    I would pay good money for your invention! DD wasn’t that interested in pet bowls, etc either. DS, at 9 months, is amazingly quick. He loves the dog’s bed, the dog’s crate, the dog’s water, etc. If the dog didn’t inhale his food within seconds, I am sure DS would gladly sample it!
    We currently gate off a bathroom that has the dog bowls and my husband’s hockey equipment in it. However, since the dog thankfully isn’t into toilet water, I worry he isn’t drinking enough water!

    February 9th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

  5. Emotional Father says:

    While I love the idea of the smart collars that control the food bowls. You realize that the little one would just figure out that the pets have to be near the bowl for them to open. So he would just make a disaster of the food only when pets are present.

    For a cat you could simply build like a hidden food bowl. Cats can get very low to the ground so I picture like a simple food trough with wood surrounding it. Only the step stool is hollow allowing the cats to go slide underneath it and get to the food in the back. You could have two sizes, one for fat cat and one for skinny. If the gap between the top of the stool and the floor is small enough the fat can’t wont fit and hence can’t eat skinny cats food. Make any sense?

    February 9th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

  6. Christy says:

    It wasn’t the food that was our problem, it was the water.

    We just put waterhog mats under the bowls and learned to live with it.

    Our daughter’s first chore was feeding the dogs, since she wanted to play with the food!

    February 9th, 2009 at 5:36 pm

  7. Pippin says:

    Ohhhh, we are in the middle of this dilemma ourselves. I do free food, since my 8 year old dog has always been fine with it– she’s in very good shape and the vet says he’s okay with it.

    The baby tends to only play with the food when she’s really bored, or it’s a day that ends in “y”, or she’s awake. I just keep an eye on her, she’s only eaten it once… If only she could be as neat as the dog with eating…….

    I haven’t baby-gated the food, since I think I should be watching, and that the baby needs to learn to leave things alone that don’t belong to her.

    The dog doesn’t care. I guess the Cheerios on the floor are a trade-off.

    February 10th, 2009 at 11:31 am

  8. Jen says:

    I had 4 cats up until after my second was born, and we always (and still do) keep their food in a room behind a gate.

    I just wanted to say someone once told me that when they see one fat and one skinny cat, they think the fat one must be eating all the food… but I have always left food out for mine 24/7, and I had two humongous 16 pound cats, and 2 skinny cats, one 8 and one 10 lbs. There was never a shortage of food… just two didn’t want to eat as much as the other two. :-D

    February 10th, 2009 at 7:31 pm

  9. Mellissa says:

    Our cat’s food and water used to be in the bathroom, which was gated. My son is 2 now and the gate has been gone for a while. He has only tried to eat the cat food once, and wasn’t impressed. I have told him that the water is “kitty’s drink” and he is not to touch it, and he doesn’t.

    He doesn’t touch the kitty litter either, I told him that was kitty’s potty and it was “blah!”. Now he’ll point to it and say “Blah!” and that’s about it.

    February 11th, 2009 at 3:34 am

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