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Cat Proof Butter Dish – Can It Be Done?

If you have a butter dish and are sick of your cat messing with it you may be wondering why it’s happening and what you can do about it…

Why do cats play with butter dishes?

From your cat’s point of view, that butter dish is simply an easy puzzle toy with a buttery treat inside! Even if it’s empty, the lightweight top means that all it takes from your cat is a single bat of their paw and they’ll get instant entertainment when the top flies off.

This might follow with a swipe at the remaining base dish, or your cat might go after that top, or even flee if they think that you’re angry – usually with the butter if they can. Try not to be too hard on your kitty about it, though, as the butter dish is pretty tempting when you’re a bored or butter-hungry cat!

What is a butter dish?

A white butter dish on a brown table.

A white butter dish on a brown table.

A butter dish is just a specialized set of 2-piece dishware, designed to hold a stick of margarine or butter. They have a long base, with handles on each end, and a rectangular top with a knob on the center, so that you can easily lift it to get at the butter or margarine stick that you’ve placed inside.

Excellent for toast, but a constant temptation for your kitty.

How can I cat proof my butter dish?

While you can’t change your cat’s opinion that the butter dish is excellent entertainment, you can certainly take some steps to help make it a little more difficult for them to get up to mischief with it and make the delicious contents harder for your cat to access. Let’s take a look at some effective strategies for this purpose.

Use an Airtight Porcelain Butter Dish

While most butter dishes aren’t designed to keep kitties out of them, an airtight porcelain butter dish can often do the trick nicely.

The porcelain build gives the dishware a little more weight to it, so it’s more difficult for your cat to send it flying, and the airtight seal means that your cat won’t smell the butter until you open the seal to get at it yourself.

This minimizes surprises and can certainly help unless your kitty is very determined to get that butter.

Use a Flip-Top Butter Dish

A flip-top dish might not have the weight or the airtight seal of the porcelain option we just described, but the design is much harder for cats to work with.

Since it works with a small hinge, your cat has to lift it the right way if they want to make off with the margarine, giving you plenty of time to catch them in the act and distract them with a ball or a ‘compromise treat’.

Use a Stainless Steel Butter Dish

While porcelain is heavy, you can opt for a little more armor on your butter dish by upgrading to a stainless steel one. These have a little weight to them, like the porcelain ones, and are much safer if they get knocked off of the table by a butter-crazy feline.

Hide the butter dish in a lockable cabinet

If you need to get something in another room and happen to have a lockable or out-of-reach cabinet in the area, then putting the dish in this spot will keep your cat away. If they can’t get to it in the first place, then you are 100% guaranteed to avoid any cat mischief when you step away.

Lock the room door where its located

On the same note as locking it in a cabinet is simply closing the door to the room where the butter is. You can lock it if you are the owner of one of those sneaky cats that have learned to open doors on their own, and your cat will be powerless to steal your butter.

Just watch your step when you open the door, however, as some cats can be quite patient where the butter dish is concerned.

Do cats like butter?

A white ceramic mug with butter on a table.

A white ceramic mug with butter on a table.

Cats love butter. Like humans, they like to have a good amount of fat in their dairy goods, and you have to remember that butter is made from milk and cream. Once your cat has had a taste, then they can be quite insistent about getting more whenever they see that you have it.

You’ll just want to be sure to only give your cat very small amounts, as the high-fat content is hard on their tummies and could give your kitty a stomachache.

Should I discipline my cat for playing with my butter dish?

No, you should not discipline your cat for playing with the butter dish or trying to get the butter inside. Your cat won’t understand why you are upset and they will think that you are being mean to them. This can cause your cat to trust you a little less, so punishment is definitely off of the table.

A better approach is to train them to politely ‘ask’ you for some butter. To do this, get a treat handy or even a little piece of butter if you don’t mind the feel of it and when your cat is about to spring on the table, show them the butter and say ‘no, kitty’.

Typically, your cat will notice the butter and this will stop them from springing, as they look at you with a little puzzlement.

Still showing the butter, say ‘wait’ and if your kitty stays still for a few moments, then put the butter down where they can get it on an extra saucer. Repeat these steps and eventually, your cat will learn to wait for you to give them butter, instead of jumping up to take it on their own.

What can I use instead of a butter dish?

If you want to bring out ‘the big tools’ and keep your butter fresh for up to 30 days in the bargain, consider getting a “Butter Bell”. Butter Bells are a two-piece dishware set that involve a bell-shaped top half, that sits inside a larger container filled with water.

This will let you store your butter on a counter and should be heavy enough to resist your cat’s efforts, though for extra insurance you might want to put it in the corner – after all, cats will do an awful lot to get the butter that they love so much!

Lindsey Browlingdon