If you have both dogs and cats living in your home, chances are you've caught the dog nose deep in the cat's litter box feasting on a version of a pu pu platter at least once. It's a problem we've been dealing with more frequently lately, but I found a quick and easy way that not only allows the cat access, but keeps the dog out, and it didn't require taking the door off the hinges and installing a cat door.

Before I get into what I did, let me explain our situation in a little more detail. We don't have a basement or laundry room to stash the cat's litter box in. Our washer and dryer are actually in our kitchen behind two bi-fold doors along a wall that separates it from the family room and the half-bath. There's just enough room in there for them to fit, so there's no place to stick a litter box along with food and water bowls. Plus, who wants to smell cat poop and pee while they're cooking? Gross. So instead, we keep them in the closet of our spare bedroom. The closet is a "double-wide," for lack of a better term, that also has a pair of bi-fold doors we keep open all the time.

The Buffet

Ryan O'Bryan
Ryan O'Bryan

When we first started having issues with the dog getting into the litter box and the food, I bought a small card table to set everything off the floor knowing the cat could jump onto it to eat and do his business, and hoping the dog wouldn't be able to reach it. Clearly, I was wrong.

The Culprit

Ryan O'Bryan
Ryan O'Bryan

This is Mya. She's around 13 years old. About three years ago during a trip to the vet, we found out she was diabetic. Since then, she gets special diabetic dog food twice a day with a side of insulin injected into the back of her neck. Like any diabetic, her blood sugar can get high and low. When it does, she attempts to self-regulate by eating whatever she can find which is why we keep our trash can in the kitchen closet. If we don't, she'll knock it over and devour whatever she can. If you know someone who is, or you yourself are diabetic, then you know if you eat anything high in carbs or sugar and don't get insulin to balance it out, things can go from bad to worse pretty quickly.

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When the trash isn't an option, she makes her way to the spare bedroom to feast on the cat's "leftovers." Which, like getting into the trash, can throw her blood sugar out-of-whack if no one is there to give her more insulin. Good times. Since no one is home for about 10 hours a day, there's no one to keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't sneak in there. Lately, she's been sneaking in there in the middle of the night while everyone is asleep. Pretty clever, right? Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

The Solution

Since the day we brought her home, we've allowed Mya to roam freely around the house all day every day. We did talk about getting a kennel to put her in while we're not home or asleep, but it felt like making the decision to put grandma in a home and we couldn't pull the trigger. We also talked about installing a cat door in the door of the spare bedroom, but that would require taking the door down and cutting a hole in it. We don't plan on staying in this house the rest of our lives, so if we did that it would mean replacing the door somewhere down the line before we decide to put it up for sale.

With that said, we got to the point recently where we decided that's just what we'd have to do because we couldn't let her keep getting in there and getting her blood sugar all out of kilter by eating the cat's food and what at one point in time was cat food before he digested it.

I started looking for a door to buy on Amazon but wound up finding another item that piqued my interest instead. It was an adjustable strap that ran from the door frame to the front of the door which allowed the door to open enough for the cat to fit through, but not the dog. My only issue with it was it used adhesive tabs like a command strip to hold the strap in place. Mya is not a big dog, but at 45-50 pounds she's got enough weight that if she really wanted in there (and I know she would), she could probably push the door hard enough that it would rip those tabs sticky right off the door and frame. I didn't feel like dropping $15 bucks to see if I was right and put us back at square one.

However, I liked the idea of the strap. I just needed to modify it with something stronger. I needed a chain. I went to the hardware store near my house and in just a few minutes I had what I needed to solve my problem.

I bought a door chain for less than $5 and instead of installing it on the interior side of the door and frame, I put it on the exterior side like this:

Ryan O'Bryan
Ryan O'Bryan

No removing the door from the hinges. No cutting a square hole in it with a saw, no need to replace the door a few years from now if or when we decide to sell the house. All I needed was about 10 minutes and a screwdriver. When the day comes that I no longer need it for whatever reason, all I need to do is fill a couple of screw holes with wood filler.

The chain allows the door to open just enough the cat can get in and out, but Mya can't. Plus, when I need to get in there to clean his litter box, give him more food and water, or play video games (did I mention the spare bedroom also serves as my man cave?), all I have to do is slide the chain off the bracket on the frame and I'm in.

In the few days since we've installed it, it seems to be working pretty well. I've seen the cat walk in and out with no problem, and I enjoyed a good chuckle watching Mya get confused when she tries to push it open with her snout to only have it open about six inches.

Will this work with all dogs? That depends on the dog. If you have some big bruiser of a beast, probably not. But if you do decide to give it a try, I mounted mine pretty close to the middle of the door just above the handle. I thought mounting it too high would allow the bottom where she would be putting the most pressure trying to get in would cause it to flex a bit and possibly break considering it's a hollow interior door.

If she does figure out a way to bully herself past it hopefully, I'm only out $5 and 10 minutes of my time. We'll see.

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