Home » Cats » Food » Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Cats?

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Cats?

David Fields
Last Updated on
by David Fields

No one likes fleas, ticks, bedbugs, ants, and other creepy biters that invade your home. If you have a cat or multiple cats, you’re likely to attract these nuisances. Perhaps you have tried to rid your home of these bugs with the latest bug killer, but you’re worried about the poison harming your cat.

Diatomaceous earth is an effective way to get rid of bugs without poison and could be the answer you’re looking for. Yes, the good news is diatomaceous earth is completely safe and even beneficial for most cats if used properly.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (also known as DE) is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. A diatom’s skeleton is called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms collect in a  body of water’s sediment, and when exposed to oxygen and water, they chemically react and become silicon dioxide.

The silica deposits are then mined from these sediments because of its natural defense against bed bugs, cockroaches, crickets, fleas, spiders, ticks, and other pests. Diatomaceous earth resembles a white powder and can be found at most pet and gardening stores.

Here’s how it works: Diatomaceous earth emits glasslike silica shards to cut through and dry out an insect’s exoskeleton. The microscopic glass edges are so tiny and harmless to anything bigger than a bug. DE does not emit noxious vapors or harm anything that it comes in contact with.

Diatomaceous Earth Grades

Diatomaceous earth is commercially sold in four grades. It’s important to know the differences, so you can know how each one is made. They are Pure Food Grade DE, Crawling Insect Control DE, Pool Grade DE, and other DE blends. The only one that is safe for cats is Food Grade DE.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Cats?

Yes, diatomaceous earth is safe for cats. Kittens who are less than two pounds, should not be exposed to DE. DE can be used to kill fleas and other bugs both internally and externally, as a supplement in your cat’s food, and even in cat litter.

Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas on Cats

First of all,  make sure you use food grade DE for flea control. It’s an effective, all-natural pesticide against anything with an exoskeleton. Also, insects cannot build up a resistance to DE like they can a chemical pesticide, and it won’t lose its effectiveness over time.

All you do is sprinkle DE on your carpets, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else you may have fleas. Let it sit for three days and then vacuum it up. (Don’t worry; it won’t stain.)  You should repeat this process every week for 30 days to ensure that the eggs and larvae are destroyed, as well as the adult fleas.

If your cat already has fleas, you can apply DE to her coat. Put some on your palm and then rub your hands together. Then rub the powder onto your cat’s head, avoiding her nose, eyes, and mouth. Apply it behind her ears, and then down her neck to her chin. Massage the powder down her back, on her tail, legs, and belly. Fleas normally die within four hours of application, but don’t bathe your cat for 48-72 hours. After 72 hours, bathe your cat to get rid of the dead fleas, and use a flea comb to brush off any remaining fleas or eggs.

You can repeat this process twice a week for a month to ensure that all the fleas are gone.

Diatomaceous Earth as a Supplement for your Cat

While DE is more commonly used for flea prevention, many cat owners add small amounts to their cat’s diet. There are numerous benefits here. DE contains calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals that contribute to a healthier coat, improved appetite and metabolism, and better digestion. Also, DE can be given to your cat as a natural way to get rid of worms and internal parasites. Contact your veterinarian for recommendations and dosage information.

How Much Diatomaceous Earth for Cats

To supplement your cat’s diet, use only food-grade DE, as other types are not safe for consumption. Your cat’s size will determine the DE dosage:

  • Small cats and kittens (2-6 ½ lbs.) should get ½ tsp of food-grade DE
  • Full-grown cats (7-13 lbs.) should get 1 tsp of food-grade DE
  • Large cats (more than 13 lbs.) should get 1 ½ tsp of food-grade DE

Do note that if kittens are still nursing, don’t add DE to their diet until they move to solid food. If your cat eats canned food, simply mix DE in with it. Dry food may be a little trickier, because cats may not eat it if there’s white powder covering their food. In this case, you could either mix the DE in with the dry food in a Ziplock bag and shake it up, or mix the DE with a quarter cup of water and then pour it over the cat’s dry food to coat it.

Harris food grade diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous Earth to Remove Cat Litter Odor

DE is also a great odor control for cat litter. In addition, it is more absorbent than clay-based litter. You can look for cat litter that already has it in there, or you can simply spread a thin layer of food-grade DE to the bottom of the litter box before you pour in the litter. Your cat’s litter will stay fresher longer while decreasing odor.

Are There Any Risks with Using Diatomaceous Earth?

As long as you use food-grade DE, there are no known risks in using it for cats. When applying it to her coat, use a minimal amount the first time and make sure you don’t get it in her eyes. Also, since it is so absorbent, it may irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs, but it is not harmful.


Diatomaceous earth has wonderful, beneficial uses for your cat’s overall health. Make sure you purchase food-grade GE and use as directed.

About David Fields
David Fields
David Fields is a long-time animal lover and has been blessed to share his life with many companions. A short list includes ragdoll cats, siberian husky and greyhound dogs, an African Grey parrot, many fish of all sorts, and a pandemonium of parakeet. He writes most of the articles on iPetCompanion and is regularly featured on other popular websites on the Internet.
  1. Very good stuff, and works well for them. I use it regularly for my cats, and I have four rescue cats. Price for it is very low in Price as well compared to other flea products. Again good stuff for Cats.

    1. Hi Rhonda, here are some guidelines from the article:

      To supplement your cat’s diet, use only food grade DE, as other types are not safe for consumption. Your cat’s size will determine the DE dosage:

      – Small cats and kittens (2-6 ½ lbs.) should get ½ tsp of food grade DE
      – Full grown cats (7-13 lbs.) should get 1 tsp of food grade DE
      – Large cats (more than 13 lbs.) should get 1 ½ tsp of food grade DE

      1. I am caring for two homeless cats and one of them has tape worm. Thanks for the dosage, but how often should this be administered? Thank you.

        1. Hello Stacie, the dosages we’ve researched for the article are for daily usage. So, if it’s half a teaspoon, add that once per day to their food. Like anything else, slow introduction is better to gauge if the pet will have any tolerance issues.

        1. Hi, Sara. The dosages mentioned in the article are “per serving”. How often should you do a serving? We’ll leave that up to you to try and observe results with your pet. We are not providing health or medical directions to our readers, but rather writing about information that is freely available from people’s experiences that may be useful. If you want more detailed information or have concerns, as always, consult with your vet and actual healthcare professional.

  2. Wow! I am so happy to have found iPetCompanion.com. I have two cats who are still semi-feral, and they go outside sometimes. I’ve been so worrie about fleas and mites, and your suggestions about food-grade diatomaceous earth sound so workable for us.

  3. Will this kill cockroaches and safe for my brothers cat the food grade one I know it say kills fleas but my brother has both problem roach n fleas ?

  4. Hi David! I read your entire article about DE! YOU are AWESOME!! Very, very thorough and informative!! I have used DE once before, but this time, my cats dragged in a plethora of fleas!! I must leave on carpet, carport & patio for at least 1-4 weeks, as fleas have been prolific, but I know it works!!!! You have encouraged me and helped so many people with your perspective and advice! Thank You!! P. Tinker Tulsa, OK

    1. Hello, Pamela, I’m so glad you enjoyed the DE article. Thank you for your nice words, it certainly made my day! Wishing you good luck with the flea situation and all the best.

  5. Is Food Grade DE safe for dogs? She is a German Pinscher and tends to lick everything plus herself. I would also like to use FG DE in the yard to get rid of chiggers and ants.

  6. I was so glad to come across your site. So helpful!! Can you tell me if using this DE on a daily basis for my cat would be enough to be able to stop giving him his monthly dose of Revolution Plus?

    1. Hi Joann, I’m glad you enjoyed the article. If you’ve not tried DE yet, I think it’s definitely worth an investigation on how your kitty responds to it. Get started with a beginning dosage regime and monitor for the results you’d like to see. Good luck!

  7. The other website I looked at said that this Diatomaceous will cause gastrointestinal problems in my cat. I never know who to believe. Please convince me I’m desperate.

    1. Hi Tamela, thanks for your question and concern. The truth is that no one will ever know for sure what will work for your particular cat. We do know from personal experience, research, and you can see feedback here from our readers that it works very well for many. So, it really isn’t a matter of belief and you should try it yourself to know if and how it’ll work. We always recommend starting slow with the recommended starter dosage and monitor and see how your cat does and if there are benefits that outweigh any issues or hopefully no issues at all. That, we believe is the honest and realistic answer. Good luck!

  8. Hi there,
    Diatomaceous earth is brilliant! Over the past 15 years, I’ve researched it for a wide variety of animals, including antelope on nature reserves.
    My contribution is that it IS Harmful When Inhaled. It is not only an irritant but makes small lesions in the lung lining and with repeated use will be harmful.
    I suggest that as a flea treatment, you mix it with a tiny amount of coconut oil simply to ‘wet’ it slightly so that it cannot be inhaled. Similarly, if using with dry kibble, please rather dampen it slightly or treat your pet to just enough delicious wet food to wet the powder. I literally just gave my cat some and she gobbled it down. I was double checking the dosage for cats when I found your site. Thank you so much for putting this out there. Best regards, Robyn

  9. Thank you for this article! This is great! I have been giving DE for 3 month for 11 cats that my friend rescued. They had blood in stool so that I assume that they had some kind of parasites. I started gave DE to them. Now, there is no blood in stool!!! This is great stuff. I give them DE 1/4 tsp everyday. Do you think I should give them 1 tsp, because they are 7-13lb. I also give them probiotic. Do you think is it ok that I can give them probiotic with DE? Oh also, litter box idea is awesome!! thank you!

    1. Miwa, thank you for sharing the great news about your kitties! You can slowly increase the DE amount if you think there is additional benefit to be gained. It sounds like it’s already been a good resource. I would hold off on the probiotics unless your vet thinks is needed. You can save money if it’s unnecessary right now.

  10. I feed about 20 farm cats. I was mixing this with the dry food which they eat. Should I stop giving it for awhile don’t want to create a immunity to worms etc or should I continue to add it to each 35 lb bag of cat food?

    1. Since diatomaceous earth is ground-up shells, if I’m not mistaken, I don’t see how worms could develop an immunity to it.

  11. Thank you for this. I’m very stressed and anxious over what I found out 16 days ago was a flea infestation. In the 30+ years I’ve had indoor cats I have never had this happen. My youngest went to the vet at beginning of August as he was scratching a lot and I saw flecks of hair and an orangey pink residue on my dresser where he likes to hang out. He was diagnosed with a skin allergy that had become infected. Antibiotic & steroid shots were given and no improvement – the itching and residue got worse. And he and my other cat – that was scratching too – started staying together all the time and hanging out /snuggling in new places – the bathroom tile shelf above my tub, top of my toilet seat cover, my dining room table, & suddenly they discovered the top of my kitchen cabinets. I kept googling, they are both blacked furred and I had not seen any fleas on them. I started to see what I thought were black gnats or fruit flies in their water bowls. My apartment building’s exterminator came by and did a general spray.
    The my housekeeper came and cleaned – she took off her shoes – and 2 days later texted me bites on her lower leg ankle foot area. Minutes before I found what looked like black coffee grounds or pepper on bottom shelves of the cabinets where the cats had been specifically sleeping & cuddling on top of. I knew immediately then it was fleas.
    I had some prescription Revolution for cats my vet had insisted I get a few years before, I found it and applied one packet to each cat. A friend came over later in the day with her flea comb and I started to cry when I saw the fleas still alive and also dead. The amount was staggering to me

    I have been reading/researching and cleaning & washing all my clothing, towels, sheets in hot water with vinegar, All free & clear detergent, and Oxi powder. I then dry everything for full hottest cycle. I’ve created dish soap (Dawn or Ajax) stirred into warm water flea traps – in bowls – with nightlights over the bowl or a small desk lamps that I purchased. And I’ve started using Wondercide brand cedar oil based flea & tick spray that kills, repels, & prevents.

    I was told by my pet loving friends & the vet tech that the cats had tapeworms and I then saw little rice shaped evidence on one cat on lower back side of his tail, close to his butt. The Bayer – no Rx needed – for cats tapeworm pills that I crushed well into a powder & put in their wet food was of course noticed by the cats – through taste as I mixed it well; but they only ate a small amount of the food.

    Being at my wit’s end I kept reading & researching & food grade DE was mentioned in a lot of different articles & websites; one very informative site that sells food grade DE cannot ship it to my state (TX). I have pulled up ads for food grade DE at plant & garden nurseries, at Walmart’s plant department, and other retailers, and some ads of food grade DE containers marketed only for dogs on pet websites.

    Do you know if I can get this food grade DE in Texas? – I want to help my cats safely.

    I know this is a very, very long comment/message, but I not only need help, but hope it will help a city person / apartment dweller who suddenly faces this. Other than it coming in from my apartment internal hallway – that is concrete & not carpeted, where neighbors walk their dogs to go outside, or some person that had a flea on them that was in my apartment, I have no idea how this infestation happened.

    My sincere thanks.

    1. Hello, Ilene, and thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear of the trials you and your cats have been through recently. I hope that you can get some good things to happen for your kitties with DE. Here is a link to a very popular product that you can consider. Wishing you the best of luck!

  12. Hi, thank you for this article!
    You said Food Grade DE is safe for Cats. What about Crawling Insect Control DE (OMRI listed)? Is it safe to use it in my house if my cat try to sniff it or lick it or ingest it?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Cedric, those types of DE products are generally considered safe for indoor use around your family. Note that you apply a very thin layer in crevices and other special places where you have an insect problem and do so with gently with a powder duster. So, we’re not talking about a large amount of material available to your pets. You can monitor if your cat is especially attracted to it, but it’s likely a non-issue because of the tiny amount you will use in some specific areas. In general, this product is specified safe to use around animals and indoor and outdoor applications, so it is not an area of specific concern for most pets.

    1. Clean your cats ears as best you can and Put Virgin olive oil in them…. It coats the mites and they die… I have don this many times and it works GREAT !!

  13. I have several outdoor cats and kittens. How good grade diatomaceous earth do I mix per cup in a Ziploc bag. I put food in several dishes outside.

  14. I have four indoor kitties. We just moved to Oregon from the mountains in Southern California a year ago. My Cats are 16, 14, 13 and 2. They never go outside. Our 14 year old Labrador passed this last April. I used to give him those prescription flea and tick chews, but hadn’t given him any for a long time.. So I think he may have brought fleas in.. or my husband or I did on our clothes. around July I noticed the little sores on my cats necks.. I seriously thought my two black cats had a food allergy. The skin around their necks is nothing but small scratch like sores. I tried changing their food and all kinds of stuff. I finally called the vet and made them both an appointment but they can’t be seen until the 21’st of October.. Just the other day I was petting my 13 year old in the sun and saw the fleas! Relieved it’s not food allergies but really afraid of the flea treatments!! Yesterday I did lots and lots of research and so many flea products for cats cause so much harm! Ugh! My daughter said to try DE and I read about that as well…. So today I took a trip to town and bought several different products, including food grade DE that I got at a farm supply house. I just rubbed a small amount on 3 of them and getting ready to put some on the carpets…fingers crossed I don’t have to use any of the chemical stuff I bought today!!

  15. Hi David, This is the first time my cat has had fleas. I just put some on her like you suggested and will wait 72 hours to take her to get shampooed. Is it a must to dust it on carpets and everywhere, as I read that they die off in 2 days anyway? Also, if it doesn’t seem to work for her (will I know in 4 hours?), can I use advantage/frontline at the same time or is it dangerous to mix? Thanks!

    1. Hi Courtney, if there’s an area you think your cat spend a lot of time and that could be the source of the problem or maybe secondary infection site (like a cat bed), then applying some DE there is probably a good idea. If kitty is pretty uncomfortable and you don’t have time to wait to see if DE will work, then maybe going traditional route of advantage/frontline might be a better idea for you. Otherwise, I haven’t heard of mixing things being a problem. But, I would just stick with one because you’ll never know if the DE was effective or not without trying it solely. Good luck.

  16. This has been so helpful; THANK you. I’m going to start this stuff tonight! This is why:
    Diatomaceous earth is ground-up shells, a desiccant. I bought some last March after adopting my Molly, a country kitty – and didn’t use it when I learned she was gravid.
    I had a bad rash this last week and couldn’t figure out what caused it. One of my cats was due for neutering, and the vet called after he saw him; said he had fleas and he needed to be treated before surgery. $16. Of course I said yes… and started putting together the clues.
    1) The Queen is now the Dowager Queen, with two Princesses and a freshly neutered Little Prince.
    2) I tamed a stray kitten this summer, who is chock full of pin- and hook-worms, according to the vet. And definitely has fleas.
    3) The horrible rash on back, hips, glutes, and stomach, which slowly went away after a LOT of diphenhydramine and topical steroid cream, and after I covered my favorite chair with a sheet.

    This strongly suggests I don’t want fleas ever again.

    So… My treatment plan? Save this site. Get a flea comb to replace the one I misplaced. Add DE to carpet and chairs. Vacuum after it sets (I’ll buy a flea collar for the vac), wear a mask when adding to the wet food. Spread on lawn. I’m leery of putting it on their fur, because of the damage it can do to lung tissue. The idea of mixing it with a touch of coconut oil seems wise. Wash thoroughly after handling. Repeat all but the lawn (November freeze should TKO the live fleas outdoors.) next week. And the next.
    Again, my thanks for setting up this forum.

  17. I trap cats for TNR. Just got five back from TNR clinic where they advised cats have lice. I cannot rub it on them, but can I use food grade DE to treat the outside area they live in? Also, can I give to them in their food to remove worms?

    1. Hi Kate, first, thank you very much for your TNR service! Yes, both actions you asked about have been successful for many people. I think it’s worth trying and monitor the cats for improvements.

      1. Hello! Thank you for responding so quickly. What would be the dosage amounts to remove worms and how many days must it me given? Thanks!

  18. Hello, I have a 13 going on 14 soon old orange long haired cat that recently is very allergic to flea collers. Will food grade DE make his skin irritated?

  19. Hi,
    I used diatomaceous earth on my 9-month old Maine Coon kitten as the vet saw one flea on her, but when I tried to bathe her 3 days later, it was a disaster. There was simply no way she was going to get anywhere near the water, and I can’t imagine ever succeeding at this. She weighs close to 12 pounds, and is pretty big. I’m not going to win this fight. So I wiped her down with a wet, warm towel, and combed her out, (I didn’t see has any fleas.), and then I put some diluted argan oil on her coat.) Can I still use diatomaceous earth for flea control, even if I cannot give her a bath 2 days later to rinse it out and condition her skin, or should I give up on this method of flea control? Thank you.

    1. Hi Veronica, bathing your kitty isn’t critical, I would say. The reality is that with time, combing, and natural grooming, things should be fine if she doesn’t enjoy bath time (like most cats!). We know cats aren’t bathers naturally and this should not be a problem.

      1. Thank you, David. I really appreciate your reply. How often should I apply diatomaceous earth, if it is not going to be washed off, and I keep the amounts small.

        Thanks again. I really appreciate you!

  20. The article says kittens smaller than 2 lbs should not be exposed to it. That sounds like they mean it should not be on their skin or fur. I’m fostering a mom and her babies. My babies are 7 days old, and their mom has tape worms. Would it harm the babies if I gave mom some de in her wet food, so it didn’t get on, or “expose” the kittens? If it would harm the babies, how and why would they be harmed? I’m new to de, so I dont know much about it.

    1. Hi Dana, congrats on the fostering and the new kittens! Yes, you got the right intention in terms of not actively using DE for small kittens (treating fur, eating, etc.). The mom can use DE without problem.

  21. Hi David, great article. I used Diatomaceous earth on my cat (Willow), she had picked up the fleas from some other stray cats in the National Park behind us. I was amazed the fleas were gone and didn’t return after a couple of weeks. What a great alternative to chemicals. My animals have always reacted to the regular types of flea treatments.

  22. I saw large bags of cat litter at a local pet store…….at a reasonable price ……..it was Diatomaceous Earth filter grade. Will this harm my cat? The price of regular cat litter is terrible. What is the best one to use?

    1. Hi Norma, yes, litter can get quite expensive. This is especially the case when they use additional ingredients like fragrances and special man-made water absorbing materials. Yes, putting DE in cat litter or even litter that is mainly based on DE are prevalent in the market and can be good choices and many cat owners use them all the time. I hope I understand your question correctly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.