No matter where in the world you are, ants are a nuisance in your cat’s food, whether in its their bowl or even in the bag. They can come inside your house somehow and get into food left for feral cats outside. I know this personally – in Hawaii, ants are out in full effect all year.
Fortunately, there are many strategies to keep ants out of cat food. They generally fall under the categories of proper food storage and serving, maintaining cleanliness, employing special equipment, and natural deterrents.
It can be frustrating enough for someone to ask “how do I keep ants out of my pet’s food?”
- 1. Proper storage and serving of cat food
- 2. Maintain cleanliness of meal time area
- 3. Use ant proof cat bowls
- 4. DIY ant proof cat bowl and trays
- 5. Create a boundary
- 6. Application of petroleum jelly
- 7. Essential oils
- 8. Double-sided tape as a barrier
- 9. Utilizing ant bait
- 10. Temporary change of food location
- 11. General cleanliness of the home
- Why is my cat food attracting ants?
- How To Keep Ants Out of Cat Food – Conclusion
1. Proper storage and serving of cat food
Rather than leaving the bag of cat food exposed or just out in the open with a clip or twist tie, I recommend storing the food in a robust airtight container. This not only keeps ants out of the cat food bag, but also prolongs the freshness of the it.
Wet cat food definitely attract ants (and dogs!) due to its strong aroma and moist texture. So, serve only the quantity your cat will consume promptly, avoiding any leftovers which can attract ants.
I understand this is only a way to keep ants out of wet cat food if you’re present. If you are away often, investing in an automatic cat food dispenser is a smart, pest-free move!
2. Maintain cleanliness of meal time area
To avoid turning your feeding spot into ant bait, implement a regular cleaning schedule that includes vacuuming or sweeping any crumbs or spilled food. These tiny food particles are irresistible for a colony of ants.
In addition to this, it’s vital to wash your cat’s food bowl regularly using soap and water. Not only does this remove food remnants that can attract ants, but it also promotes better health for your feline friend by minimizing the growth of bacteria in the bowl.
Cleaning the area surrounding the food bowl is equally important. Ants leave behind a chemical trail, known as trail pheromones, that guides their fellow ants to the food source. By thoroughly wiping down around the feeding area, you disrupt these trails, rendering them ineffective.
3. Use ant proof cat bowls
Specially designed ant proof cat bowls and food trays also can keep ants away from your cat’s food. These bowls and trays are designed with built-in deterrents to keep the ants at bay, commonly using a water-filled moat.
These bowls typically have an outer rim or other area that you fill with water. This creates a protective moat around the food. Ants, being unable to swim or cross large bodies of water, are effectively barred from reaching your cat’s food. It’s a simple yet highly effective deterrent.
Ant proof food trays operate on the same principle. These trays have a larger surface area and are designed to accommodate more than one food or water bowl. Just like the ant-proof bowls, they have an outer rim or separate compartment where water is added. This water barrier prevents ants from reaching any bowls placed on the tray.
4. DIY ant proof cat bowl and trays
If you’re feeling a bit crafty, you can create your own ant proof cat bowl. You’ll need two dishes – one that is a bit larger than your cat’s current food bowl and the other being the food bowl itself.
The larger dish acts as a moat or barrier, while the smaller dish or bowl is where your cat’s food will go.
Placing your cat’s food bowl in the center of the larger dish. Ensure the larger dish is deep enough to hold water but not so deep that your cat can’t comfortably access its food.
The aim is to create a water barrier around the food bowl that ants can’t cross without making it difficult for your cat to eat.
5. Create a boundary
Marking a boundary around your cat’s food using cat-safe materials can serve as an effective deterrent for ants. This technique involves creating a barrier with substances that ants naturally dislike.
Most importantly, whatever materials you choose must be safe for cats, as our furry friends might be curious and interact with these stuff.
Coffee grounds, baking soda, or chili powder are options to create this boundary. You can draw a radius with chalk around your cat’s feeding area. Another option is cinnamon, which has the added bonus of a pleasant smell for humans, though ants hate it.
A solution of vinegar mixed with lemon juice can also be sprayed around the feeding area. The strong smell is usually enough to deter ants. Similarly, baking soda can be sprinkled around the feeding area as ants dislike it.
Some cats might be sensitive or curious about these substances, so it’s important to observe your cat’s behavior and discontinue the use of any material that seems to bother them (or that they really like).
6. Application of petroleum jelly
Petroleum jelly presents another effective and simple solution to keep ants from getting in your cat’s food. The slippery and sticky nature of petroleum jelly makes it impossible for ants to cross, creating an effective barrier between the ants and your cat’s food.
Simply apply a fair amount of petroleum jelly around the outer base and sides of your cat’s food bowl. Make sure to apply it thick enough that ants cannot easily cross it, but also be mindful not to apply so much that it becomes messy or gets on your cat’s fur.
7. Essential oils
Essential oils are an effective strategy, provided they are used correctly and safely, especially around cats. Certain oils like peppermint, tea tree, and lemon or orange citrus oils emit strong scents that ants find unpleasant.
But remember that essential oils can be harmful or even toxic to cats if ingested or inhaled in large amounts, so their application must be done with caution.
When using essential oils to keep ants out of pet food, do not apply them directly to your cat’s food or feeding area.
Instead, apply these oils to cotton balls or pieces of cloth and place them near the entrances of your house or other areas you’ve noticed ants coming inside. This should prevent them from getting in the house
8. Double-sided tape as a barrier
Double-sided tape will also keep ants out of pet food. It can work well, although it’s not for the squeamish or those who don’t like bugs.
Simply, place strips of double-sided tape around your cat’s feeding area, or around the base and outer sides of your cat’s food bowl. You can also put the tape on the floor in a circle around the food area. The tape will trap any ants attempting to cross, like ant quicksand.
Keep in mind though, when it comes time to remove and replace the tape, you might be confronted with a large number of squirming ants stuck to it. For those who are uncomfortable with bugs, this is not the method for you.
9. Utilizing ant bait
When deterrents aren’t enough, move to offense. I’m talking about ant traps and bait.
Over the counter ant bait function by attracting ants with food that also contains a slow-acting poison. The ants are lured into the bait, consume the poisoned food, and then carry some back to their colony. There, the poisoned food is shared with other ants, including the queen, effectively eliminating the colony over time.
To apply this method, you would strategically place bait around the bowl, in a cat proof package. This is crucial as the baits contain poison and can be harmful or even lethal to cats if ingested.
Another good rule is to place the bait in areas where your cat cannot reach but ants can, such as behind appliances or furniture.
10. Temporary change of food location
Temporary relocation of your cat’s feeding area is an effective strategy to keep ants out of cat food bowls.
The goal here is to disrupt the pheromone trails that ants lay down to guide their fellow ants to food sources. Ants are excellent navigators thanks to these pheromone trails, but by shifting the feeding location, you essentially throw them off your trail.
Simply move your cat’s feeding station to a new spot, separate from the previous location. Then, you can get to the bottom of the existing ant issue.
However, this strategy has its negatives, primarily because cats are creatures of habit. They get very accustomed to their surroundings and a sudden shift in their environment, can cause lower appetite, stress, or anxiety.
11. General cleanliness of the home
Maintaining a clean home environment is essential to prevent ant infestations. This means promptly taking out the trash once it’s full and not letting it sit in your house. It’s also beneficial to use a lidded trash can, which can further deter ants by blocking easy access to food waste.
Avoid leaving food out in the open. Instead, store your food properly in the refrigerator or in sealed containers. This not only keeps your food fresher for longer but also prevents it from becoming attractive for ants or other pests.
Why is my cat food attracting ants?
Ants, like most insects, are always in search of food and water for survival.
Further, ants are social insects and communicate through pheromones. Once an ant finds a food source, like your cat’s food bowl, it leaves a pheromone trail for other ants to follow. The end result is a large number of ants targeting your cat’s food.
How To Keep Ants Out of Cat Food – Conclusion
By using the above tactics to get ants away from cat food, you can ensure a happy, ant free mealtime for your cat.
I’m Gary Hu, a proud cat dad to a 15 lb Maine Coon. Have taken care of outdoor and indoor cats for over 10 years, and learned tons on behavior, habits, health, and products. I help new Maine Coon (or any other cat) parents with common questions and issues based on real, practical experience.