If you’ve ever cracked open a bag of cat food only to find it riddled with ants, you know how irritating that can be. Just when you thought you would treat your pet to a delicious meal, you ended up getting an unpleasant, rather annoying surprise in the form of contaminated food.
As unfortunate as it is, many pet owners struggle to figure out how to keep ants out of cat food, but that doesn’t mean there’s no way to stop those pests from sneaking in. Let’s see how you can keep your pet’s food fresh and ready to go at all times.
How to Keep Ants Out of Cat Food
While you can’t exactly keep an eye on your pet’s food the whole time to ensure it doesn’t attract these pesky creatures, there are several simple yet effective methods you can try out to keep them at bay, including:
Store the Food in a Plastic Container
This is your first line of defense in keeping ants out of cat food. Many pet parents make the rookie mistake of keeping the bag of food in its original state and just putting it away in a convenient location. But little do they know that any weak points in that bag can be exploited by ants and used as an entry point to the tasty goodies inside.
With that in mind, the best thing you can do to prevent an infestation is to store it in an air-tight food container that will act as a physical barrier. The ants will surely have a tough time getting through the sturdy material, so you can rest assured that you won’t come across any the next time you try to feed your pet.
Both dry and wet cat food should be stored in a dry and cool location, like a cupboard or pantry. You can also keep it in the fridge if you want and have the space for such an arrangement.
Keep the Surrounding Area Clean
Regularly cleaning the food bowls and the dedicated feeding area are of the utmost importance. If your kitty has the habit of leaving behind bits and pieces of its meal, that’s just asking for trouble. Ants are inherently attracted to even the smallest piece of food, so anything laying on the floor is bound to be a feeding ground for these little pests.
For liquid spills, you can use a solution with lemon mixtures and vinegar to eliminate any remaining smells or residue on the floor. Use a mop to thoroughly sweep the area before your feline’s next mealtime.
Consider Using an Ant-Proof Cat Bowl
These bowls are specifically designed to make ant prevention that much easier. Most have a specialized water lip that prevents them from climbing inside. Their durable and resilient design features a rounded bowl with high sides that make access to the food more difficult for insects.
Some even have a non-slip rubber bottom to ensure stability and maximum convenience. This means that you won’t have to worry about whether or not your feline will tip the bowl over and make a mess that you’ll be forced to clean up afterward.
Another effective means of minimizing the appearance of ants on cat food is using baking soda to create a physical barrier. It acts as a natural deterrent for ants because it dehydrates them and makes them avoid it.
Simply sprinkle a bit of baking soda around your pet’s food bowl or place it strategically throughout your kitchen to better manage the situation. If the ants can’t find their way to the treats, they won’t bother returning to them again. It’s a super affordable and easy-to-use method that won’t harm your pet in any way.
Another standard household item, Vaseline, can make the ants’ path slippery enough to prevent them from climbing up. To prevent your feline from licking it up, smear a generous amount of petroleum jelly along the sides of the bowl, preferably the bottom side.
The only downside of this method is that it can collect some dirt over time, so you should apply a fresh layer often to keep bacteria at bay. Washing it off the bowl might be a bit tricky due to its specific consistency, but if you’re patient and use enough warm water, you should be able to get it clean.
How to keep ants out of the cat food bowl outside? Well, that’s simple; just draw a line using sidewalk chalk.
There’s a scientific explanation as to why ants don’t like chalk—they’re genetically attracted to pheromones, which are chemicals they all produce and release into the surrounding environment to communicate. When this natural line of communication is interrupted and the scent they were following can’t be traced anymore, they tend to look elsewhere.
That’s what happens when you draw a thick line around your pet’s food bowl—it disrupts their genetic functions. It usually lasts longer than other barrier methods, but it generally won’t work if the line is too thin to begin with.
If you need to keep the food bowl safe for only a limited amount of time, you can use sticky tape to trap the ants as they make their way up. They’ll inevitably stick to its surface and won’t have the chance to move around freely.
The tricky thing here is that there might be quite a few ants that get trapped, which might be an unpleasant sight when you’re trying to clean everything up. If you’re squeamish or don’t really like insects, this might not be the best course of action.
The fragrant nature of essential oils acts as an effective repellent for ants. Clove oil, peppermint oil, and different types of vegetable oil can be diluted in water and sprayed around the bowl for the greatest effect. You can even use them in their pure form, without the addition of water, for an even more potent solution.
Similarly, the strong and spicy scent of crushed red or black peppers can irritate the insects and keep them away from your pet’s meal. You can use whatever chili powder you have laying around at home or get a fresh batch from the store—either way, the ants will recognize the smell and avoid the area you sprinkle it in at all costs.
Why Is My Cat Food Attracting Ants
It’s simple, really: meat is one of the key ingredients in most cat food formulas—which is precisely what ants are attracted to. And since they’re classified as omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plant-based products, they’ll likely view your feline’s food as a delicacy even if it doesn’t inherently contain meat.
There you have it—the main solutions to how to keep ants out of cat food. While these insects can be quite a nuisance for both pet owners and their furry friends, it doesn’t mean that we’re forced to stand by and watch as they pull off their regular shenanigans.