No roaches in my cat food
January 5, 2012 12:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me German cockroach-proof my cat's food and water dishes.

Before I get into my question, I would like to assure you that I do not have an active roach infestation in my apartment. I am paranoid about this because there was an infestation when I moved in a year ago, but I've battled it fiercely, and now I haven't seen a roach in my place in over two months. If one comes in, it's one that has made its way through the walls and through the gauntlet of duct tape, boric acid, and poison bait that I have waiting for it at its likely point of entrance, in the cabinet under my kitchen sink, and out of the potential reach of a cat.

So my question is as follows: I am getting a cat soon. I would like to be able to leave a water and food dish out for it overnight, with relative peace of mind that even the stray, once-every-couple-months little cockroach that may find its way in will not be able to access my cat's food or water... in ways that don't impede the cat's ability to access its food or water. I have thought of a couple different ways to accomplish this, involving methods of applying duct tape for roaches to stick to (like around the pole of a wide, raised dish) and/or a moat of soapy dishwater that the dish would be placed in the middle of and a roach would drown in, but am interested in hearing other ideas. I've looked at available pet dishes that claim to be pest proof, but those generally seem geared towards ants.

Has anyone attempted this? What worked for you and what didn't? Photos of your contraption?
posted by wondermouse to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This is not exactly an answer to this question, but have you considered the possibility that a roach will become cat food, and/or a cat toy?
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:20 PM on January 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I have considered that, but I'm reluctant to just leave the bowls out without any sort of attempted roach barrier.
posted by wondermouse at 12:34 PM on January 5, 2012

Cats will indeed eat roaches, oh boy will they eat roaches. Roaches, however, are covered with various types of poisons so you don't want your cats to eat them.

I have no aswer to this, in the case I've seen it ( a friend who would not allow any insecicides in her house) I had to make the case that either she spray where the cats can't get at it , or allow the cats to eat roaches that have been crawling through poison.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:50 PM on January 5, 2012

For food, most cats do just fine with feeding at certain times instead of free-feeding. You can put the food away when the cat is done.

For water, there's already so many sources of it around your house—in the drains, in the toilets, etc.—that I really wouldn't worry about adding a few bowls of it sitting around.
posted by duien at 12:57 PM on January 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Points all taken - but let's say there is a time when I have to leave food out overnight, like if I'm going to be away for 24 hours or something. I know there are options in terms of not leaving food out on a daily basis, but I'm looking for things to do if I do need to leave food out. If it's still nothing, I'll try that, but I'm interested in knowing if anyone's tried something that did keep roaches out of a cat's food dish.
posted by wondermouse at 1:28 PM on January 5, 2012

When I was growing up (out in the country, lots of ants) my cat's food dish (5" bowl) always sat in a 8" pie plate that held water (1/4"-1/2" deep). The cat of course pushed it around a bit so it wasn't consistently centered with a tidy 1.5" moat around it, but that was enough to keep the ants away. I bet it would work on roaches, too. The water wasn't dosed with anything (soap, etc), and there were never dead ants in it. I think the point wasn't to drown/kill things on their way to the dish, but to discourage them from thinking the catfood was easy pickings. Ants don't enter water voluntarily (see: all the times I was playing with busy ant highways when I was a kid), but I don't know about roaches.
posted by aimedwander at 1:36 PM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had an infestation of roaches in my apartment when I moved in. I also did the boric acid/duct tape fix, and haven't seen one in months (knock. on. wood). I also have two cats, and they are grazers, meaning their food is out all the time. There are not roaches in it. I worried about it, but like you, couldn't come up with the perfect roach barrier, so in the end I just didn't have one. It hasn't been a problem. If you really boric-acid-and-duct-taped your entire apartment, I think you should be fine.
posted by millipede at 1:40 PM on January 5, 2012

Seconding aimedwander's advice above, with the addition of dosing the water with soap. I used this technique to pretty good effect when I lived in an apartment in Florida with a roach problem. I had a single tray for both water and food (I bought a dog-feeding tray from the local Petsmart), with 1/2"-1" of soapy water in it. The main hassle was that said water would evaporate over time, so if I didn't keep an eye on things, the roaches could get to the food after a few days.

This said, I only rarely saw roaches on the food when I neglected the tray. It doesn't mean it didn't happen, of course, but it wasn't a common enough occurrence for me to actually see it in action. So I also second the notion expressed above that you may not actually need to worry about it.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:16 PM on January 5, 2012

I rub a lot of Skin-so-Soft from Avon on the outside of the bowls. Regular mineral oil works just as well, but I usually have SSS in the house. Basically anything that is mineral oil will keep the roaches from walking into the bowls. In a pinch, liquid dish soap will work, but not as well.

I live in roach heaven, i.e., atropical island and free feed my cats. I do not have a roach problem. Of course if your roaches fly, welllllll........

As for cats eating roaches, mine try it once and then never again.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 6:59 PM on January 5, 2012

I'm not sure what the point of roach-proofing food is, as leaving food out will attract roaches in the first place. One idea is to use some sort of device that stores food and produces it according to a schedule, kind of like this thing.

How often are you going to be away, anyway? If it's only occasionally (once a month or whatever), it's no big deal.

The thing you've got to do is to get the damn food off the floor, and make sure the feeding area is kept clean and free of food, except at appointed mealtimes.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:11 PM on January 5, 2012

And, between meals, clean the food bowl out, even if you're using dry food, which contains a lot of oil which will coat the empty food bowl.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:12 PM on January 5, 2012

The water moat is a really good idea.

I kept American cockroaches as pets for several years. They will not jump to cross the gap, and they will drown readily if they fall into water and cannot grab anything rough to climb out.
posted by colinshark at 10:18 PM on January 5, 2012

We put double-sided tape on the outside of our cat's food bowl when we were having a roach problem, and that seemed to work.
posted by felix grundy at 8:08 AM on January 6, 2012

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