Bad for Ants, Safe for Moderncats

Tue, May 26, 2009

Household Cleaning

So, I went to reach for the water dish the other day, when I noticed that the dry food bowl was CRAWLING with ants! Countless ants! They cropped up in just a few hours. This is my first ant problem since moving into my condo, so I started investigating products that might help. I’ve heard people mention Sevin Dust for insect control around animals, but after just a little research I found several anecdotes about pets getting serious skin irritation or becoming very sick from it. It turns out that the active ingredient in Sevin Dust, carbaryl, is a neurotoxin and suspected carcinogen. So that was ruled out.

Then I came across this Poison Free Ant & Roach Killer. It’s a patented poison-free formula that controls ants, roaches and other crawling insects using all natural, food-grade mint oil. It is safe for use around children and pets and for use in the kitchen. It works instantly and is supposed to stay active for up to 4 weeks. Plus, the water-based aerosol contains no CFCs or other ozone depleting substances. It sounds too good to be true!

I just sprayed it all around the kitchen, plus I used it on the fire ants that have been appearing on the catio. It has a wonderful fresh mint smell and the cats are not bothered by it at all. Catnip is a member of the mint family, so I guess that makes sense.

I got some at my local Ace Hardware, but you can also get it in a 2-pack at Amazon, or check out this great new site I found Planet Natural.

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19 Responses to “Bad for Ants, Safe for Moderncats”

  1. 1
    Daisy the Curly Cat

    Here’s another thing you can do that’s safe for pets: they make something called “The Antser” for pet food bowls. It’s a small raised platform. Inside you fill with soapy water and put the lid on. The cat or dog dishes sit on top and the ants cannot cross the watery barrier. It works great! Especially if the only thing drawing the ants is the pet food.

  2. 2

    During the warmer months finding ants in the cat food isn’t unusual.
    I solve this by placing the cat food bowl in a larger baking dish and filling the baking dish with an inch or so of water.

    It’s a non-toxic fix with no chemicals but it does look a bit odd.

    Also-if you can see where they are entering, make sure you clean their trail since they mark it with chemicals-that should cut down on their traffic as well.


  3. 3
    Constance Plank

    There is another safe product called Terro. It is a liquid bait that is borax-based. The ants suck it up, and take it back to the nest. You put a dime-sized amount on a (provided) piece of non-absorbent paper near the start of the ant trail. It attracts and kills Argentine ants, Ghost ants, Cornfield ants, Pavement ants, Acrobat ants, White footed antes, Little black ants, Odorous house ants, Crazy ants, Big headed ants, and other sweet-eating ants. (I’m reading from the back of the box here.)

    It takes care of infestations very quickly, and doesn’t interest cats in the slightest. I love this stuff!

    I buy it at Home Depot in a 2 oz bottle. And no, I have no relationship whatsoever with the Senoret Chemical Co. (



  4. 4

    Perfect timing, thanks! Some ants invaded recently and I placed traps on the cleared-off floor of the pantry but they don’t seem to be working and I worry that someone might accidentally leave the door open, allowing the cats access to the traps. I decided just this morning to trash the useless things but didn’t know what to use instead. Going to get some of this non-toxic stuff today!

  5. 5

    A completely natural option is to put cinnamon around your cats’ bowls and along door frames where ants come in. This has solved our similar kibble infestation problem!

  6. 6
    Cathy S.

    To keep ants from coming back, you can mop the area where they came in the house with a bleach and water mixture. The bleach gets rid of the pheromones ants rely on to find each other, so they won’t come back.
    I did some research and found that a bleach and water mixture, used properly, won’t hurt cats. But I still put my kitties on the screened porch while I do this and let them back in after 30 minutes or so just to let the mixture dry a bit. I’ve never had any problems.

  7. 7

    this is just what I needed. I might note that I haven’t had much luck with the cinnamon strategy (nor with pepper or cloves). I’ll give this a try!

  8. 8
    Hope K

    Thanks for the post and all of the suggestions! I’ve been battling the same problem and will try some of the options above.

  9. 9

    Still another “fix” is the Fool-A-Bug bowl, sold at Petco and other “pet” supply stores. Its design is supposed to foil ants; and it does work for everything but swarming ants, which nothing in the world will stop. Used according to directions, though, it’s a good product — the only drawback is that it is made of plastic.

  10. 10

    Emily: I like the cinnamon idea! I have used red pepper flakes for our kitchen ant problems (but not near the kittie bowls) and that has worked well. Now I’ll use cinnamon instead!

  11. 11

    We had an ant problem when staying in a friend’s guest house. It’s eerie how how quickly they appear in the hundreds and from out of nowhere! In our experience we found that the best thing to do was to spray a little windex in the spot where they were coming in. Our little geniuses found a few more ways to get in before giving up entirely, but the war only lasted a few days.

    Later when we had an ant problem at work the pest control people suggested using windex as well. And of course, to block the way they were coming in if possible.

    Windex is more chemical and less natural, but the most harsh of the chemicals is ammonia, which is found in cat urine.

  12. 12

    Please be careful with borax. While it’s a “natural alternative,” it shouldn’t be ingested, which warrants caution around cats. So long as it’s not within reach, it makes a cheap ant remedy: mix powdered sugar with plain, grocery-store borax (usually kept with laundry supplies). As with the product Constance mentioned, the borax is brought back to the ant nest. I’ve had fair luck with placing it on paper or in an unsealed box and tucking it away from paw-access areas. Really love the food bowl within a bowl of water idea, too.

  13. 13

    Food Grade Dichotomous Earth is great for this purpose – fleas (or basically any insect) too. It’s a very fine dust and a serious irritant to insects – it basically kills them through friction.

    Food grade It’s harmless to Humans and animals. Garden grade will hurt cats. So please make sure it says Food grade.

    Animals can digest it without harm, and you only need a very little bit so use a duster. Don’t go too wild with it inside -it’s as fine as drywall dust. Use that duster. (If you use it outside you have to reapply after rain.)

    If you have dirt and fleas outside you might also want to consider getting garden nematodes which live in dirt and will actually eat fleas. :)

    I didn’t mean to deviate to fleas but it’s summer and I’m starting to watch out for them – they are definitely on my mind!

  14. 14

    Note to joycebell, Bridget, and other cinnamon users: Sometimes it takes a few applications (and in a few different places as you figure out where they’re coming in) to completely stop those stubborn and strong* ants! But it DOES work!!

    *A couple ants would carry an entire piece of dry catfood all the way across the kitchen floor. Impressive!

  15. 15

    we had the same problem with ants getting into the (not cheap!) cat food (and every other type of food in the house that wasn’t in a can). we ended up putting the cat food dish on a shelf about hip-height on a home-made cat tree. the ants never thought to climb up the sisal support to get to the dish. as a bonus, it makes the kitties work for their food by having to jump up there and it makes refilling easier on our backs!

  16. 16

    Please note: Mint is toxic to cats. I dont understand this product.

  17. 17

    I read someone’s comment about putting out red pepper flakes to ward off ants wanted to add something… I believe it’s cayenne pepper powder that is the “red pepper” to lay out for ants. I’ve seen some packaged as “30,000 heat unite” — I’m not sure what that means but it sounds hot! (not saying that you have to buy a specific type, just mentioning cayenne powder in general.)

    Also, last year I put the cat’s dry food bowl into a larger bowl filled with just enough water so the ants can’t cross the moat. The lesson I learned from that is to clean it every day. The cat would eat the kibble and invariably drop a piece or two over the edge, into the water. The water dried up, and when I eventually went to clean the bowl, there were worms/parasites between the two surfaces where the water dried up. Gross! And noone to blame except me and my laziness. I don’t deal with that situation any more because the cat has since been diagnosed with diabetes and he is off dry food completely now.

  18. 18

    I’m a Terro ( ) fan myself as well – safe & works!

    But we do have the Poison-Free Wasp & Hornet Killer (for my man who is not so fond of the flying ones ;)

    Hope you are ant free this year
    We just had a move in a week or so ago after a big storm…

  19. 19

    Mint is NOT toxic to cats! Catnip is in the mint family.

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