How To Keep Ants Away From Cat Food

how to keep ants out of cat food

With warm weather just around the corner, springtime often brings ants into your home.

Since you probably keep your cat’s food in a bowl, this is an open invitation for a free buffet for ants. Cats are spotlessly clean animals; having an army of ants crawling in their food bowl will most likely result in them not touching the food. 

Before you grab a chemical pest control spray, which can be harmful to your cat’s health, there are a host of solutions to  prevent ants from invading your cats’ food. Check our guide below on the 6 best ways to keep ants out of cat food.

how to keep ants out of cat food

6 Best Ways To Keep Ants Out Of Cat Food

Here are the six best ways to keep ants away from your cat’s food without any unnecessary toxic remedies and potential health-threatening pest control sprays.

1. Keep Your Cat’s Food Bowl and Feeding Area Clean

Prevention is always better than cure, so If you currently don’t have an ant problem in your home, there are some things you can do to safeguard against them showing up in your cat’s food bowl. 

One of the easiest ways is always to keep your pet’s bowl and feeding area clean. When your cat has finished eating, make sure to clean its bowl, or at least do so once per day. Don’t forget to use a cat-safe detergent and to rinse well with clean water. 

Sweep up or vacuum any crumbs that fall out of the bowl during mealtime to keep the feeding area sparkling clean. 

Mop the floor every two or three days. It’s best to use vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water as the smell will repel ants.

It’s also wise not to leave the bowl on the floor, especially if it still has food in it. Instead, pick it up when you see your cat has finished eating and store it somewhere safe. 

2. Use Plastic Containers To Store Your Cat’s Food 

Another easy way you can prevent ants from reaching cat food is to store the food in airtight plastic containers. Don’t keep it in the original food bags once opened.  Those half-opened bags will make it easy for the ants to invade your cat’s food. 

So next time you’re in a dollar store, pick up some airtight plastic containers, or you can even get a specifically designed pet storage container in your local pet shop. 

3. Create A Moat Around Your Cats’ Food Bowl 

One thing to know about those small and annoying creatures is that ants can’t swim and will quickly drown in water. So you can create a moat around your pet’s food bowl. This will prevent the ants from crossing over, and thus, they will not be able to invade your cat’s food. 

It’s simple to make; all you’ll need is a large aluminum disposable pan or baking dish—make sure it’s small enough for the cat to reach the food still. Place your cat’s bowl in the middle of the receptacle, and then add an inch of water. 

4. Make A Boundary Around The Cat’s Food

Similar to the water moat method mentioned above, you can use several different substances to create a boundary around your cat’s food bowl that’ll repel ants. 


Draw a line around your cat’s bowl with white chalk. For some unknown reason, ants will not cross the line and will keep away from the food. 

Coffee Grounds, Chili Powder and Cinnamon

The smell of coffee grounds, chili, and cinnamon all repel ants and are not in any way harmful to your cat’s health. You can use this simple trick to keep the ants away; Put an old newspaper under your pet’s bowl, then pick one of the substances mentioned above, and sprinkle it around the bowl. 

Petroleum Jelly

Ants find it nearly impossible to cross sticky substances, so another easy thing you can do is simply surround the food container’s edge with some petroleum jelly. 

Vinegar Or Lemon Homemade Spray

You can prepare this easy homemade spray that’ll repel the ants because of the smell. Mix a bottle of half water and half lemon juice or vinegar, and then spray the mixture around your cat’s feeding area.

5. Use Essential Oils

Ants are repelled by the strong smell of many essential oils. You can use cinnamon, peppermint, clove, or thyme oil. 

Orange oil would work too, but cats don’t like the smell of orange oil either, so you may inadvertently stop your cat eating if you use it. 

Use a damp cloth with a few drops of essential oil on it, and wipe the area around your cat’s feeding area. 

Although essential oils are natural and don’t contain any toxic chemicals, you need to make sure that your cat doesn’t ingest any undiluted essential oils, as these can be toxic for them and harmful to their health. 

Make sure that any essential oil that’s applied somewhere your cat might accidentally lick is diluted.

6. Make Your Own Homemade Natural Ant-Repellant Spray

Homemade deterrent sprays are a cheap and effective way to keep ants away from your home and your cat’s food. Here are three simple homemade natural sprays to repel ants: 

Peppermint Spray

This fresh-smelling spray will definitely keep the ants away, and it’s effortless to concoct. You’ll need:

  • Water.
  • Peppermint oil. 
  • Witch hazel.
  • A spray bottle. 

Fill the spray bottle with about two-thirds of water and add 10 to 12 drops of peppermint oil and two tablespoons of witch hazel. Shake it well, and use it anytime you need to treat ants in your cat’s food bowl area. 

You can also spray it around the feeding area and let it dry. The smell itself will repel ants from coming close to your cat’s food. 

Tea-Tree Oil

This is another easy way to make your own non-toxic homemade ant repellant. You’ll need: 

  • Tea-tree essential oil.
  • Water.
  • A bottle spray.

Similar to the method mentioned above, you simply fill up the bottle spray with water and add around ten drops of tea tree oil into it. Shake it well, and spray it around the feeding area at least once per day. 

Homemade Ant Killer Spray

If ants have already invaded your home and your cat’s food, this homemade ant killer spray will help you get rid of them, and you don’t need to buy toxic ant repellant sprays, which can also be harmful to your cat’s health. You’ll need:  

  • Two tablespoons of vodka.
  • Two ounces of water.
  • Fifteen drops of orange oil.
  • Fifteen drops of lemon oil.
  • Fifteen drops of clove oil.

Fill up the bottle spray with 2 ounces of fresh water and add two tablespoons of vodka, or you can use rubbing alcohol instead. Then proceed to add all three essential oils. Shake it well, so all the ingredients mix. 

Spray the mixture directly on ants around your cat’s food bowl. Lemon, orange, and clove oil are all toxic to ants and will immediately kill them off. Remove all the dead ants and wash down the area thoroughly before allowing your cat back.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Ants Harmful To Cats?

Well, that depends. Most ants are not harmful to cats. Large black ants could potentially bite your cat, but these tiny bites will not cause any harm. 

However,  fire ants can be very dangerous to cats. Not only are their bites extremely uncomfortable and painful, but their venom can also cause a severe allergic reaction which can even lead to anaphylaxis. 

Before the warmer months come around, the best thing to do is prepare yourself to prevent ants from invading your home, especially your cat’s feeding bowl. 

Why Is My Cat’s Food Attracting Ants?

Ants will find their way to your pet’s opened food or food bowl because they’re attracted to crumbs and leftover food that your cat leaves inside the bowl. 

This is why it’s essential to keep your cat’s open dry food in airtight plastic containers, and to clean their food bowl and feeding area every day, preferably after every meal. 

Will Cats Eat Food With Ants?

Well, technically, cats can eat most ants without any harm, except fire ants, for the reasons we’ve mentioned. 

But this can solely depend on the cat. While some might not seem to care that much that the ants are invading their food and will eat it anyway, some cats will not approach the food, as they might be scared or even repelled by the ants. 

Think about it this way, do you like eating food that has ants in it? Well, probably neither does your cat. 

The Bottom Line

Finding ants in your home and your cat’s food is never a fun discovery. This is why it’s important to do everything in your power to prevent an infestation. Following the tips above will ensure an ant-free environment. 

Make sure you keep your cat’s food bowl clean at all times, vacuum and mop the area around it as well. Don’t forget to keep their food in airtight containers, as the half-eaten food bags are an open invitation for ants. 

Keep away from using any toxic repellents. They will kill off the ants but can also be harmful to your cat’s health. Instead, use natural homemade repellents, which can be just as effective in eliminating the ants from your home.

Olivia Davis

Olivia is the editor-in-chief at Cat Food Tip. She's in charge of making sure that every post is up to standards and contains accurate information that's comprehendable and fun for readers.

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