Ants in the cat food dishes is an extremely common complaint of cat owners here in Coastal Virginia. As a cat sitter, I run into this at least 10 times a month, and the owners are always mortified. Don’t be embarrassed! We all get them from time to time, especially after a soaking rainfall. Of course you want to get a giant can of bug killer out and decimate them all in 1.2 seconds, but then you remember it’s not good for you, your pets or your family. What can you do? Here are some of the approaches I recommend.
First things first – we’re going to make it hard for the ants to get to the food while simultaneously allowing the pets to continue eating. I present Ancient Pet Sitter Trick #1: The Pie Plate Moat. Place a clean dish of pet food in the center of a pie plate, roasting pan or other shallow item larger than the food dish. Put 1/2″ water in the bottom of the container and laugh maliciously. MUAHAHAHA Ants can’t swim! (May not be effective in Texas) You’ll find yourself doing this year-round off and on, because it’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s very effective, though probably not recommended by your Feng Sui professional. If you come home from your vacation and find your pie plate on the floor with the cat food dish in it, I’m sorry – and you’re welcome!
The next thing we’ll be addressing is the Trail Of Tears. This is the line of ants looking for food, casually winding from your front door all the way to the kitchen. They like all kinds of delicious food other than pet food, which was just the easiest target for them. If they’re coming through a crack somewhere, you might be able to caulk up the hole. If not, you’ll want to send some poison back to the colony. Sounds really drastic, but they’ll keep sending soldier ants until you do, so you might as well. I am a huge fan of boric acid, which you can buy in the laundry aisle at the store (One brand is 21 Mule Team, like your Grammy used). You can make a concoction of this and something delicious like jam or honey or even sugar and put it out next to (not on top of) the line. They’ll find it and take it back to the nest and wipe themselves out. Use about 10-20% borax so the ants will make it all the way home before dying.
Other anti-ant but not anti-pet or anti-child ant deterrents include commercial ant traps and sprinkling diatomaceous earth around your home perimeter – which is a fabulous and inexpensive all-around, all-natural bug preventative. I hope this helps you to feel better about the Southern Virginia Ant Invasion Season, I promise not to laugh at your pie plate/cat food displays on the floor!