thank you so much for all your answers. i've decided to go with Hell603's water idea.
this is how i'm doing it. i bought 3 chip & dip bowls from the dollar store. they look kinda like this one:http://www.nextag.com/GODINGER-Sienn...56/prices-html
and i put a little water where the chips go and the food where the dips goes. no ants in the food so far!
the good thing about this kind of bowl is that even if the cats accidently knock some of the food out of the holder, it'll only go into the water, where the ants cant reach it anyways. its also serves as a reminder for the kitties to drink some water.
i'll also look into getting some kinda bait for the ants to completely wipe them out. most likely the kind they take back to their queen ant and spread to all the workers. i'll make sure it done safely.