In addition to a couple of indoor cats my wife and I enjoy feeding several additional outdoor pets. Two of these ‘outsiders’ are cats we have adopted which were born in the wild and prefer to live outside. In addition (at last count) 3 abandoned/stray cats are frequent guests at the three feeding and water bowls we maintain on our covered front porch.
From our breakfast room window we enjoy watching the almost constant parade of cats of all shapes, sizes and colors to and from our front porch.
Each morning we rinse out and wipe clean the 3 feed bowls and fill each bowl with 3 cups of dried, pellet cat food. In the evening we replenish the bowls with an additional cup of food. The water bowl is replenished daily and changed every third day.
During the winter months our feeding routine presents few problems. The cats, knowing our feeding schedule are hungrily standing by as we refill the bowls and will revisit the bowls throughout the day until all of the food is gone. Different people have the question that How to wash and groom a dog’s face? The washing of the face should be done with proper care through soap and water. It can be done through the experts also.
However, with the first sign of Spring a new problem surfaces. Overnight thousands of ants appear, marching in straight, orderly lines from the ground, up the foundation wall, onto the porch and into the feed bowls. As Spring gives way to Summer ants are everywhere, thousands upon thousands of hungry, marching ants. These little critters not only cover the floor of the porch, but concentrate so heavily in the feed bowls that the brown pellets appear to take up the orange tint of shoulder to shoulder ants.
Making matters worse even the most hungry of our cats will not feed once the bowl is infested with ants.
What to do?
In an attempt to eliminate the ant problem we considered using any of several commercial pesticides, but after reading the warning labels we were very concerned about the potential environmental effect of applying these poisonous sprays and powders which could possibly end up in our ground water. Most of all we did not want these poisons in and around our cat feeding area.
The solution we found was both simple and effective and importantly, presented no danger the health of our cats or the environment.
From a neighborhood Home Furnishings store I found and purchased 3 sets of very inexpensive plastic bowls. Each set contained six varying sized bowls, nested together on top of one twelve inch diameter saucer.
From each set we selected the smallest bowl, which was 6 inches in diameter and three inches deep, to be our new cat feeding bowl.
From each of the three sets we selected the 12 inch in diameter saucer and filled each with two inches of water.
In the center of each water-filled saucer we placed the 6 inch bowl (step 2 above) and filled it with the usual 3 cups of pelltized food.
The weight of the food filled bowl is sufficient to keep it from floating. Placing the food bowl in the center of the saucer provides a 3 inch water filled moat around the food bowl which serves as a very effective and safe deterrent from invading ants.
After initial deployment of our new defense the ants would march up to the saucer, climb its’ side and circle the perimeter, looking for a way to cross over to the feed bowl. Evidently in response to the smell of the food the ants returned for the next three days before giving up the fight.
As an unexpected by product of our feeding system we were surprised to see the cats happily alternating between feeding and drinking from the saucer’s ‘moat’.
This environmentally safe system has continued to work quite successfully for us.