Good Questions: Ants in My Pet Bowls!

Good Questions: Ants in My Pet Bowls!

Grace Shu
Sep 3, 2008

AT reader Jen is dealing with some unwelcome house guests who are nibbling away at her cats' food: My two indoor cats and I just moved into a new apartment a few months ago. We are regularly plagued by household ants that seem to go specifically for the cats' food, both in its storage containers and any leftover in the cat dishes. I regularly wash out their dishes and the surrounding area to no avail. I currently use ant spray where I can without coming in contact with the cat dishes but I'm wondering if there's a more pet-friendly solution. How can I discourage the ants without exposing my cats to chemical pesticides?

Hi Jen,

Sorry to hear about your ant problem. We went through a very similar situation a few years ago, and we tried a few suggestions:

The Bowl Moat. Fill a cake pan of water and then place your pet's bowl in it. Theoretically, the ants will drown in the moat. This actually didn't work for us (the ants swam across), but some of our neighbors swear by it. We'd advise trying this homemade method out first before spending money on bowls that are designed specifically for this purpose.
Cinnamon/Coffee/Chalk Boundary. Draw a line of chalk (or lay a newspaper down and sprinkle a circle of ground cinnamon or coffee) around your pet bowls. The ants refuse to cross the boundary. This sort of worked for us initially, but after a few days, the ants became desperate and crossed over. FYI, cinnamon was the most effective.
Vaseline. OK, this is the one trick that really did work for us, but it's pretty messy! Smear vaseline on the sides of the bowls, the ants were foiled by the slippery surface and gave up.

Got any other tips for Jen? Share 'em in the comments!

[ Photo from Mod Dog ]

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