Last fall I updated our cat feeding cabinet to securely allow only our new kitten, Cami, inside. This allowed her to continue to have access to food at all times while keeping Bertie on her regular timed diet. However, it quickly became apparent that the cabinet needed to be adapted to give each cat their own space. Thus, the next transformation of this piece of furniture began.
How It Started
If you’ve been reading for many years now (or just focused on the cat related posts), you will know the idea of a feeding cabinet for our cats started when our now teen was a toddler. We had a small house, limited space, and were trying to keep the cat food away from a curious little boy. I refinished a Craigslist purchase into a simple space to house our cats’ food bowls. You can read about it here.
Fast forward about 10 years, we were no longer using the cabinet in the same way. I was ready to part ways with it and find a new piece of furniture for our dining room. Thankfully, I procrastinated as we found a need to turn it into a feeding cabinet for our kitten. This little project I detailed in a post last fall.
Cat Mealtime Drama
Initially, I thought we would be fine with Cami eating in the cabinet while Bertie maintained her spot just outside of it. Then Cami decided going after Bertie’s food was a game. Bertie is on a set, measured and timed diet due to digestive issues. She gets specific dry food at 3 intervals during the day. She eats every bit of it and needs it. Having Cami stealing any or stressing her into eating faster were not good things.
My teen suggested 3d printing a shield of some sort to block the sides and top of the automatic feeder. First we tried using a small cardboard shipping box to test the idea. It helped for a bit, but pretty soon Cami figure out how to reach a paw in to bat at Bertie and swipe food. I found myself standing guard during feedings to keep her away. We needed a long term solution that didn’t involve constant monitoring.
Since the microchip pet door and cabinet worked so well for Cami, I decided to give it a shot for Bertie as well. Fingers crossed we could teach an older (4 year old) cat a new trick and learn to use the door.
Adding a Second Dining Space
Measuring the existing cabinet, I knew we had enough clearance on the top shelf if we removed the drawer. It honestly never worked well anyhow (would get stuck when trying to slide out) so it wasn’t big loss. I simply removed the drawer and slides (with Bertie keeping an eye out, of course). Then detached the front of the drawer to prepare to reattach to the cabinet.
Both cats were curious about this project and took the opportunity to inspect it once I had the drawer out. This photo also helps to show how much clearance there is inside one the drawer was out.
I purchased simple corner brace brackets to reattach the drawer face to the cabinet. Two were screwed into the top and one on each side.
I installed the second SureFlap microchip pet door the same way I did the first one. I traced the outline onto a piece of blank paper and cut out the center to create a template. Then I taped that inside the cabinet where I wanted the door and traced with a Sharpie. I used a drill, our Dremel, and a small saw to cut out the hole.
Once the second “floor” doorway existed, we need to make access easier and added a shelf on the outside of the cabinet. I had a couple of IKEA shelf brackets from a previous project idea that never came to realization. They worked perfectly here along with a piece of scrap wood we cut to size.
After painting the shelf white to match the brackets, I attached it to the side of the cabinet with screws. Both cats were quick to climb up and see what was going on.
Dining for Two
I planned to leave Cami’s food where it was at the bottom of the cabinet. Even going so far as to drill a small hole above the shelf to run the cord for Bertie’s automatic feeder. Then I realized how challenging refilling the automatic feeder would be if it was higher. While both “floors” in our feeding cabinet have equal head height – the same amount of access is not available from the cabinet doors as the old drawer face and horizontal support piece take some of the upper space. I could use a gravity feeder on the top so I opted to flip the cats’ feeding spots.
This also meant I switched the pet doors. I could have reprogrammed them, but decided this was simpler since I knew which was programed for which cat and I did not want to chance any overlap.
I finished off the space by adding a matching placemat and motion sensor light. These simple placemats work great for catching spilled foods and make cleanup easier. The lights are probably a little unneeded, but they are cute and do help me see when I’m cleaning the cabinet. They are also a good indicator of when a cat is inside as the light shines out through the openings around the cabinet doors.
Making a feeding cabinet for pets may seem daunting or even a little extra. For us, it was a pretty simple project and so needed. Now both cats have access to their food without interference from the other. And, most importantly, both are healthy because they are getting the proper diet without rushing to eat or fighting over food.