Ants! Ugh! They can get into anything, and annoyingly, they seem to love your cat’s food. If you see one ant, there’s going to be more, and the last thing your cat wants to do is eat her food with ants crawling on it. You obviously can’t spray a pesticide all over her eating area, so what are your options?
We’ll have a look at some steps you can take to help stop ants from going after your cat’s food. All of our suggestions are safe for your cat and everyone in your household.
This is an obvious one. Any opened bags of cat food that you have should be stored in a plastic container with a lid. You can either empty the food directly into the bin or place the entire bag inside, but either way, you’ll protect the food from ants with this method.
2. Clean Up
Ants are drawn to crumbs of food (given their tiny size, this seems only natural), so if you have a problem with ants, you’ll need to keep your cat’s food bowl and the area around it clean. Wash the bowls with detergent and water at least every other day and vacuum (or sweep up) around the bowls after your cat eats. Especially if she’s a messy eater.
Ants leave pheromones for other ants to let them know when there’s a food source nearby. This is why when you see a few ants, you will start to see more after a short period of time. Frequently cleaning the bowls will help to wash away not just the crumbs of food but the pheromones.
You can use lemon, bleach, or vinegar as part of the cleaning process, which can help deter ants and remove the pheromone trails. When your cat has finished the food in the bowl, you could also remove it from the floor.
3. Create a Border
Certain kinds of material can be placed around your cat’s food bowl that will prevent ants from crossing the line.
Chalk: You can draw a circle around your cat’s food bowl with chalk, and crazily enough, ants won’t want to walk across it. Only use non-toxic chalk that does not contain any pigments. If chalk has any extra minerals or chemicals added, it could prove toxic for your cat.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth: This is a kind of sand or powder made up of fossilized algae and consists of about 80% to 90% silica. It’s pretty effective at killing insects by essentially drying them out but is generally quite safe for humans and pets. Just be sure to purchase the food-grade kind. It has the added advantage of working on all insects, including fleas.
Keep in mind that you can put a number of other materials around your cat’s bowl that will deter ants, such as coffee grounds, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. However, these substances will also put off your cat from her food as they are also commonly used by people trying to prevent stray cats from coming into their gardens and yards.
4. Build a Moat
Building a moat around your cat’s bowl is an easy and guaranteed safe method to prevent ants from reaching her food.
1. Start by finding a container that is large enough to hold your cat’s food bowls. This could be a cake pan (or two cake pans if that’s all you have, and you have two separate cat food bowls) or even a roasting tray. Aluminum roasting pans are inexpensive and easy to find, probably even in your local dollar store.
2. Fill the container or tray with water. The water level needs to be just high enough to deter the ants but not so high as to swamp your cat’s food. Ants aren’t strong swimmers, so they won’t be able to make it to the food bowl.
3. Now you can place the bowls in the water container. Remember, if the container is on the large side, move the bowl so it is about 1 inch from the container’s edge so your cat can easily reach it.
4. Keep an eye on the water. Empty it and refresh it every now and then to remove any dead ants and spilled food. It will also need occasional refilling due to evaporation.
5. The longer you keep this procedure going (if it works for you and your cat), the less the ants will start going after your cat’s food.
These ultrasonic pest repellers usually have mixed reviews. They emit a sound that is at a high frequency that only pests can hear. They are designed to work for mice, ants, cockroaches, and spiders and don’t involve dangerous chemicals or unpleasant scents. They seem to be hit or miss for many users.
A Few Warnings
Many articles out there on this topic discuss using essential oils around or on your cat’s food bowl as a way to deter ants. This is actually very unsafe for your cat! If a cat were to accidentally lick up some essential oil, it could cause a serious and fatal reaction. Since this is around the location where your cat eats, the chances of her accidentally ingesting the essential oil increases. Cats and essential oils do not mix!
Many essential oils also have a scent that is not only off-putting to ants but to your cat as well, so you may actually prevent your cat from eating.
Before you actually place any kind of material or substance near your cat’s bowl, try researching it first so you will feel comfortable using it. You certainly don’t want to accidentally harm your cat trying to protect her food from ants.
Removing the Ants
When you do remove ants from your home, be sure to dispose of the ants and any contaminated food and be sure to remove the bag from the house. This way, the ants will be less likely to crawl out and get back at your cat’s food.
Ensure that your cat food, as well as all uncovered food, is placed in airtight containers. If you ever notice ants marching across your floor in a long line, use bleach, lemon, or vinegar and wipe across that surface to disrupt the pheromones.
Try to seal up any crevices and cracks in your walls and place insecticidal baits in key spots in areas where you see the ants. If you opt for some kind of insecticide, make sure your pets can’t get at it and that it is meant specifically for ants.
Remember, strong scents that are designed to repel ants might also repel cats, so do your homework before resorting to this method. While having ants crawling on our cat’s food is an unwelcome infestation, we also want to keep our cats safe.
We hope our suggestions and ideas will help clear up all ants from your cat’s food as well as out of your kitchen and home.
Featured Image Credit: Pee Poti, Shutterstock