Ever wanted to place your kitty’s bowl outside but found the critters their food attracts bothersome? Never fear! A lot of owners feel more comfortable feeding their cats outside but don’t like dealing with the unwanted attention their bowls attract from other animals. A particularly annoying and potentially dangerous beastie are the all-too-common garden slugs. Here is all you need to know about keeping slugs away from your cat’s food through natural methods and why it is so important to do so.
Some of the most effective and natural ways to keep slugs away from cat food are seaweed, eggshells, copper wire, water barriers, and elevating their food bowls. Other methods include salt and pressure pad lids. A combination of these methods may increase their effectiveness as well.
Keeping slugs away from your cat’s food is very important, as they carry harmful parasites that can be passed onto your cat through ingestion. Using natural methods to keep the slimy critters at bay is also vital, as a lot of man-made pesticides can be poisonous to your kitty. Here are some cost-effective and natural ways to keep slugs away from your cat’s food bowl.
What Happens if a Cat Licks a Slug?
Slugs are a very common garden pest and are harmless in most situations. However, when it comes to your cat’s food bowl, you need to keep them far away. Slugs can carry an extremely harmful parasite called lungworm.
Once ingested, lungworms will burrow into the tissue of your cat’s lung to lay eggs. Once these eggs hatch, they will eat their way out of your cat’s lung. This will cause serious damage to your kitty and can even be fatal if not treated.
Of course, you will want to avoid this at all costs. Keeping lungworm carriers such as slugs and snails far away from your cat’s food is a top priority.
Why Chemical Pesticides Might Not Help
Unfortunately, a lot of the man-made pesticides designed to keep slugs out of your garden are not going to help you in this case. A number of pellet pesticides contain metaldehyde, a compound that is extremely poisonous for cats.
Placing it near their food in order to keep slugs away puts your cat at risk of accidentally ingesting it. This can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, and even death. Of course, not all pesticides contain this compound.
However, unless you have done extremely extensive research on whether or not your chosen pesticides are harmful to your cat, it’s best to stay on the safe side. Here are some natural repellents you can use to keep the slugs away at little to no risk to your cat.
Elevated Food Bowl
An easy and humane method to keep slugs away is to keep your cat’s food bowl out of reach. Find something tall to place your cat’s food bowl on, such as a flower pot. Then spray the sides with oil or water to create a slippery surface.
The slugs will not be able to cling to the sides of the pot to get to the food, whereas your cat will be able to reach it easily. This method is a relatively low hassle one and won’t actively harm the slugs while still keeping them away.
A method similar to this is the water barrier method, in which you place your cat’s food bowl inside another bowl of water to create a protective moat. The slugs won’t be able to cross the water barrier, and this should keep your cat food safe.
Placing your cat’s bowl on something to elevate it within the water bowl might help with keeping the food from falling into your water barrier and creating a soggy and unpleasant feeding area for your cat.
This method isn’t necessarily fool-proof and can get a bit messy, but it is definitely easy and cost-effective. All you need to sustain it is a reliable water supply. You will also likely need to change out your moat often, maybe every day. Cats like a clean feeding area, and soggy slugs and food around their bowl will not make them happy.
Pressure Pad Lid
You could also look into a pressure pad lid for your cat’s food bowl. This would mean when they pressed on the pressure pad, the bowl’s lid would open so they could access their food and remain closed otherwise.
This would mean that slugs and other pests could not access their food. However, this would require you to train your cat to use the pressure pad, which may take less time than you would think.
They’ll pick it up eventually and will be able to access their food when they please. Pressure pad food bowls can be purchased online and at relatively big, well-stocked pet stores.
A surprising natural deterrent is seaweed. Seaweed is salty, and slugs hate the feel and taste of it. If you have easy access to seaweed, try to gather some or purchase some at a local well-stocked store.
Dried seaweed will help you just the same, and slugs hate the coarse feel of it. Try laying the seaweed on a plate or shallow bowl and placing your cat’s food bowl inside. This will create a highly unpleasant barrier for the slugs between them and your cat’s food.
Seaweed is completely non-toxic for cats and in fact contains nutrients that are very healthy for them. This means you don’t have to worry at all about them accidentally licking or eating it.
This method is also humane and relatively easy once you’ve acquired the seaweed. Your only concern may be that undried seaweed will likely smell rather strongly, so you may want to keep it a fair distance from your house.
Another natural deterrent is eggshells. Broken eggshells are sharp and highly uncomfortable for slugs who have extremely sensitive and soft bodies. They won’t at all like crawling over these to try and get at your cat’s food, so create a barrier of shells all around the food bowl.
Again it is suggested to create the barrier on a plate or shallow bowl and place your cat’s food bowl inside. This will help prevent your cat or the wind from breaking the barrier, so it lasts longer.
If your barrier seems to be wearing thin at any point, just top it up with recycled eggshells. This method is green and sustainable.
This method is somewhat trickier than others but effective nonetheless. Copper creates a reaction when it comes into contact with a slug’s skin that they find very unpleasant. It won’t kill or even significantly harm the slugs, so it is a humane method.
It has been known not to be completely fool-proof, but it is a proven deterrent. To use it, you will need to purchase some copper wire the wider, the better. Copper wire can typically be found in hardware stores or purchased online. Create a thick ring around your cat’s food bowl. This will act as a barrier, and the thicker the ring, the better.
Elevating your cat’s food bowl within the barrier is also suggested, as this will discourage your cat from becoming curious and licking the wire. A few licks won’t be harmful, but prolonged ingestion of copper can be very poisonous for your kitty.
It’s unlikely that your cat will try to ingest your copper barrier, but watch them interact with their food bowl. If they do attempt to eat the copper repeatedly, it is safer to try a different method.
Salt is a well-known deterrent for slugs. It dehydrates their moist bodies at an extreme rate and can be very painful and even fatal for them. Leaving a salt ring around your cat’s food bowl would likely keep them away but may come with its own problems.
Too much salt can be extremely harmful to your cat and even fatal if they ingest enough sodium. Rather than placing salt directly around your cat bowl, try sprinkling it around your garden. It will seep into the soil and make it hostile to slugs.
It will, however, also make it very hostile for plants and other natural life in your garden. This method comes with quite a few difficulties and may not be completely effective, so keep that in mind when trying it. It is suggested that you attempt the other methods first before resorting to this one.
There are several ways to keep slugs away from your cat’s food. Slugs carry extremely harmful parasites that pose a significant threat to your cat if they accidentally ingest them.
Unfortunately, a lot of man-made pesticides carry chemicals that can also be very harmful to your pet if they ingest them. Natural repellents such as water, eggshells, and seaweed are therefore preferable.
Also effective are methods of elevating your cat’s food bowl and creating a water barrier or slippery surface for the slugs. Try a few methods and choose the one that works best for you and your kitty!