I have solved the problem of food being stolen by raccoons...don't leave it out during dark hours.
I have solved the problem of food being stolen by ants... water moat around the dish.
I have NOT solved the problem of food being stolen by squirrels and magpies (and possibly mice, but I've never seen any). Anybody know a good way to keep them from taking the food? I might be able to rig up something to keep the food up high where the cats can jump but the squirrels can't climb. This still leaves the problems of the magpies, who can empty a whole bowl in just an hour! (seriously...I've watched and timed it lately!)
I sort of like the idea of this: bird tent
. But magpies are smart, I'm sure they'd figure out a way to just poke their head in and take the food, just like the cats do. I'm wasting enough money on food, don't need to waste more on a useless contraption.
Doing a Google search says that putting up shiny/reflective things like CDs on a string or something works...not with magpies - they LIKE shiny! I have several wind chimes that are glass and silver on those little garden hooks stuck in the ground, and they walk right past it on the patio to get Xanthe's food (she is also fed outside...the ferals are fed at the other end of the yard).
Obviously I would prefer all natural stuff, no chemicals. And those ultrasonic things don't work either...my dad wanted to get rid of the squirrels that keep digging under the tool shed, and they sit right beside the thing that's sending those pulses out, and couldn't care less about it. Nice waste of $15 on my dad's part ;p