Why Is My Cat Food Attracting Ants?


Cat food attracts ants because it is mainly made of meat ingredients, which the ants find delicacy. It is also possible for the cat food to attract ants because cats, just as with other pets, will eat and leave crumbs lying around about their feeding area.

Ants are basically omnivores, which means that they can feed on both animal and plant-based food. However, they can be specific if their best type of food is available, and meat tends to be a primary food for a certain ants species. We will look into this fascinating fact, but first;

What Comprises Cat Food?

Cat food is highly comprised of meat because cats are predatory in nature.  It could be fish, pork, or beef, depending on the food you choose for your cat.

Moreover, cat food is divided into dry and wet food. Dry cat food is more of meatballs, chunks, or pellets. However, wet cat food is mashed, providing some water content. It s easier to chew on and the best for young kittens.

Why is My Cat Food Attracting Ants?

Let’s get into a few reasons, but which are enough, to have ants crowding the cat food;

1.    The Greasy Ant Species Feeds on Meat

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As we have mentioned, species of ants are food-specific. They only feed on anything they come across to avoid starvation. However, given a chance, each species would go for its primary food.

Some ants eat sweet sugary food, such as jam and honey. Others, the colony queen, to be specific, feed on ant eggs and larvae for adequate nutrition. Then there is our main focus, the greasy species; it feeds on meat.

So, when the greasy species find a way into your home where there is a constant supply of meaty cat food, you can bet that it will be challenging to get rid of them.

Ants are pretty small, and it only takes small honey tin to stress your head out as they fill the whole cat eating area, kitchen, and beyond.

2.    Ant Pheromones

Ants leave a chemical scent on their way in, usually referred to as pheromones, which ensures that other ants have a definite route to follow. They also use the signature scent to return to the house and the specific area where they found the food.

Hence, if your cat food is attracting ants often, they can easily trace the cat food using the pheromones.

On a serious note, if the chemical scent is not broken, you will never really get ants out of your house.

3.    Cat Food Crumps

Moreover, when you get rid of the ants in the cat’s eating area, the cat’s eating habit still attracts the ants. Cats will leave crumbs lying about, which call the attention of the ants.

If you don’t clean the area immediately, ants will still be in your house, attracted by the cat food crumbs lying around the house.

Other than the cat food crumbs, there can also be other foodstuffs lying about. Remember that ants are omnivorous, and that means that these food crumbs will also attract ants.

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Once they are in the house, they will go for the cat food if they are the thief ants, another name for the greasy ants.

4.    Watery Environment

Ant colonies will thrive best in wet areas. If your house has small pools of water, even if it is underneath the kitchen furniture, they will attract ants. Once in the place, the ants will look for any food particles available for them to eat.

Cat food, especially during and immediately after feeding time, will usually be uncovered. It will attract the insects best. After all, if it is a greasy ant colony, cat food is the best choice.

5.    Need to Get Enough

Finally, you must have had the cliche that ants are most hardworking? They even have a biblical reference for the same! So, ants tend to have two stomachs: their individual stomach and the other the community stomach.

The individual stomach is the one they fill for individual use. Then there is the large community stomach, where they fill food for the queen and younger ants.

Therefore, ants get attracted to cat food because it presents an opportunity for a lot of food put in the same place.

Can Ants Eat Dry Cat Food?

Unfortunately, ants will eat both wet and dry cat food. Even the large meatballs will not survive an ant invasion since they take small bits until the whole meatball is over. Remember, they are pretty fast, and it will not take them hours to finish just a single meatball.

What Kind of Ants Eat Cat Food?

As they are mostly referred to, thief ants, or greasy ants, are the primary culprits in eating cat food. This is because they are naturally meat-eaters, and they only turn to other food options when no meat is available.

Secondarily, all other ants can eat cat food because ants are omnivores. They can feed on anything edible that comes their way.

Tiny red ants in cat food? Exactly! Other than the typical black ants, the tiny red ants can also quickly infest cat food.

The best part about all these ants is that they are non-toxic, hence will not pose a health hazard to the cat. On the contrary, the cats will still be healthy even after eating them.

However, you should beware of the fire ants, which are the only exclusion. They sting cats, and they can have an excruciating effect on the cat.

Do ants bother cats?

The more frequent question is, do ants hurt cats? No, they don’t. Ants are harmless to cats, especially tiny ants. However, large ants may bite the cat mainly as they compete for food.

Are ants toxic to cats? No, they are not. Even if they bite the cat, the bites are negligible and harmless.

Do Ants Contaminate Food?

No, they don’t. Even if they populate food, whether human or pet, ants will not contaminate food.

However, they are so small that some will even stick in the food. And imagine eating food and ending up chewing on some ants!

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Generally, ants are just a nuisance, plus in large consistent numbers, they will take advantage of the cat food.

How to Keep Ants Away From Cat Food

It is tricky to use commercial insect sprays in the house when you have pets. This is because the spray or pesticide may end up affecting the pet as well. Therefore you may have to consider organic methods, which will not have any effect on the pest.

So, how to get ants out of cat food without harming the cat? Here are some tips that you will appreciate;

1.    Serve the Cat Enough Food

If you serve the excess cat food, it will waste it in food crumbs, which it will leave lying about and attract the ants. However, serving only what is enough for the cat will prevent wastage. The cat will finish food from its bowl without spreading crumbs around.

2.    Clean the Cat Feeding Area

One of the most effective ways of keeping ants away from cat food is cleaning the area. Immediately the cat is through with eating, clean its eating area to get rid of food crumbs.

Also, ensure that you clean the feeding bowl at least once in two days if you are feeding the dry cat food. You will have to clean the bowl after every feeding for the wet food so that the ants don’t get anything to eat.

You can also take the chance to ensure that you rid the whole house of water-soaked spots. Check underneath the fridge, cooker, and other furniture to ensure no damp spots are left.

The ants will find it difficult to survive in your home with a dry environment, let aside the cat food.

3.    Consider the Cat Food Storage

Ants are tiny, and they will easily access a cat food bag. After all, the bag will have an inlet once you start on a package.

In this case, you should transfer the cat food from the food bag to a tin that you can close. Also, ensure that you tighten the lid because ants can notoriously find a way in, even in covered food.

Once you tighten the lid, the cat food is safe from the ants, and they may leave the house altogether.

4.    Put Boundaries When the Cat is Feeding

If the ants cannot access the stored food, they can wait till you put the food in the feeding bowl. They will then pause a nuisance for your cat as it feeds.

However, they will not like the powdery feel on their legs. So, how about trying some baby powder, chili powder, or even ash around the cat’s food bowl?

Other than powder, you can keep ants off the cat food with any essential oil, whose smell the ants will not appreciate. These include lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, peppermint, and even cedarwood oil.

I found another exciting method online and proved effective, and this is the use of water. If you put the cat food in its bowl, then dip the bowl in a larger bowl with water; this works magic.

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They will not swim in more significant amounts of water as much as ants like water. The water should not reach the top of the cat food bowl, and it shouldn’t be a hindrance to the cat feeding. But it will be enough to ensure that the ants give up on the cat food.

Did you know that you can also use petroleum jelly against ants? You have to apply the jelly at the bottom and on the sides of the cat bowl. This trick works amazingly in ensuring that the ants, whether red or black, keep off the pet food.

5.    Use of Ant Proof Cat Bowl

Luckily, there are also bowls cat food bowls that will naturally keep the ants away from the cat food. Looking for ant-proof cat bowls, Petsmart will give you a variety of bowl types and also other ant repellent options.

The bowl is usually UV resin coated and harmless to the cats. However, the ants will not dare come close to the bowl. The bowl is waterless, and it does not require any advanced maintenance. But how does it work then? The UV resin coating pays tricks on the ants, which mistake it for a water coating.

There is also a cheaper option of an Antser, which has a water and soap mixture. You will place the cat food on the Antser, and the water-soap mixture repels the ants from getting to the cat food. However, you will have to change the water at least once a month.

How to Keep Ants from Feral Cat Food

A feral cat refers to a stray cat that takes the opportunity to feed whenever the opportunity presents itself. While it may not be your cat, you may pity the cat and decide to feed it.

Not all methods for keeping ants off the cat food may work with feral cat food. For instance, you may not invest in an expensive ant-proof bowl for a wild cat.

However, you can consider the cost-free options, such as using a larger bowl of water to place the cat food bowl. Serving the cat only enough will also work without impacting your budget.

Why is My Cat Food Attracting Ants

Your cat food is attracting ants because it contains meat, which the ants find inviting. Some ants will go for meat at the slightest opportunity, while others will go for the cat food because it is available.

Wrapping Up

Cat food will attract tiny black and red ants, and this may make the feeding area messy. While the ants are harmless to the cat, it is not the best view. Plus, they will leave a trail that attracts even more ants to your house.

However, with several methods to get the ants away from cat food, you have to smile, knowing too well that you finally have a solution.

Dinu Sri Madusanka

Dinu Sri Madusanka is a science graduate (B.Sc.) who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. He is a well-experienced writer with more than 7 years of experience. He interests in writing mostly animal welfare and advance technologies. Even though he is busy with research works, in his free time, he gives his contribution to several blogs by writing, reviewing, and analyzing information to provide more accurate and useful information for the reader. WalkwithCat is one of his major contributing places which is dedicated to improving the knowledge of cat parents.

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