If you already use coconut oil for yourself, you may have considered also adding it to your pet’s bowl. But is coconut oil safe for cats? And are there any benefits for our furry friends?
We investigate whether pet owners should introduce this oil to their furry felines. If you’ve already made coconut oil part of your dog or cat first aid kit, we endorse your decision and highlight the many ways that this oil can add value to your cat’s life.
What is Coconut Oil?
Manufacturers extract coconut oil from the meat, kernel of coconuts, and the Cocoa Nucifera palm tree’s fruit. Historically coconut oil has been used extensively in tropical regions.
It came to light in the western world in the past decade and enjoyed a rediscovery for its medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). The popularity of the fruit oil extract is all thanks to lauric acid.
Lauric acid changes the way that humans and animals metabolize the oil. Rather than storing the fat, increasing the chances of insulin resistance, inflammation, and fat storage, lauric acid has an increased fatty acid oxidation rate, meaning it will quickly be burned for energy rather than storage.
Research for coconut oil is still in its cradle stages. However, many pet owners have seen an improvement in their dogs and cats when they’ve used it topically or internally.
Is Coconut Oil Safe for Cats?
Coconut oil is not toxic to animals, although it can produce adverse side effects in some cats. Gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting or diarrhea, can be a problem if you’re giving them too high a dose.
It’s essential to start with a shallow dose and slowly increase it. Some experts suggest starting with as little as 1/8 teaspoon daily. From there, you can increase the amount up to one teaspoon a day.
In some situations (dermatitis, coat health, etc.), a bi-weekly dose will suffice. As with any addition to your cat’s diet, consult your veterinarian. Your vet knows your cat’s medical history, and by discussing your cat’s needs, the vet can advise whether coconut oil would be beneficial or unnecessary.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Cats
You probably already know that there are many health benefits of coconut oil for humans. It’s enlightening to know that coconut oil can also benefit your cats, dogs, and any other little pets you may have in your home – rabbits, horses, and even canaries.
Pet owners can topically apply coconut oil for skin issues, or it can work its magic from the inside.
Supports Skin and Coat Health
One of the many visual pros to coconut oil is its effect on your cat’s appearance. For cats and dogs, coconut oil acts as an excellent repellant for parasites such as ticks, fleas, and mange. If your cat struggles with itching skin due to parasitic bits, or other allergic reactions, then the topical use of coconut oil will be a great relief.
Coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s a safe, non-toxic way to heal inflammation, prevent infection from bites and ease sensitive skin. Virgin organic coconut oil is also rich in vitamin E, which makes it an excellent moisturizer for dry skin and, when ingested, it can boost moisture for these areas.
So whether your kitty is experiencing atopic dermatitis, a blistering bite mark, or a pesty rash, coconut oil can soothe your cat’s skin. By deterring pests and adding moisture to their coat, your cat will look its very best.
Cat owners can become fed up with the number of hairballs around their home and think it’s normal. But there is something you can do to remedy the situation. The MCTs in coconut oil promotes a healthy coat, and therefore, a reduction in hair loss.
Cats cough up hairballs when their coat sheds more than average. As a result, they ingest hair when grooming, and well… the rest ends up in slobbery balls on your favorite rug.
If your cat is prone to excessive shedding and hairballs, using coconut oil can improve its coat condition. A cat that coughs up hairballs will experience frequent irritation in its respiratory tract. Coconut oil will calm inflammation and work to soften stool so that any hair that makes it into their digestive system can pass into the litter box instead of being spewed on the rug.
Thanks to the MCT benefits of coconut oil, your cat’s digestive tract will be healthier than ever before. The caprylic acid in coconut oil works to remove harmful bacteria, parasites, and fungi from your cat’s gut. As a result, vitamins and minerals are absorbed efficiently.
It’s also believed that even though coconut oil is a fat, it can stimulate weight loss by increasing thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is a process where a mammal body produces heat to burn calories, thereby boosting metabolism and using fat resources.
Inflammatory conditions in your cat’s body are difficult to detect, and the effects can cause pain and pressure on surrounding organs. When you use coconut oil as part of your cat’s diet, it can help the body with its anti-inflammatory properties.
From mild inflammatory bowel disease to internal joint inflammation, coconut oil may ease discomfort caused by internal swelling. As a result, you can expect your cat’s mobility and energy levels to be on the rise.
Boosts Immune System
People can put health issues to rest and boost their cat’s immune system by using coconut oil. The MCTs in coconut oil may increase protection for your cat against bacterial and viral infections. We’ve already mentioned how pests are deterred by the oil, which in itself projects your cat from diseases caused by parasites and insect bites.
Helps Liver Health
Healthy liver function is yet another thing for which medium-chain triglycerides can receive praise. Coconut oil is an easily digestible fat, and many believe it will not contribute to weight gain. That is a huge relief to one’s liver, as fatty liver tissues can become inflamed and cause damaged liver cells. Many believe that antioxidants in coconut oil reduce free radicals from attacking the body.
Promotes Pancreas Health
If your cat is obese or struggles with pancreatic issues, a vet might warn against using this superfood. Talk to your vet about replacing any other fatty acids in their diet with coconut oil, and you may see surprising results.
Due to the medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil, cats with fat malabsorption issues can usually tolerate coconut oil better than other fats. It may even improve their energy levels, give them a new zest for life, lower their desire to overeat, and aid in weight loss.
How to Give Cats Coconut Oil
While your kitty may seem like the fussy type, cats usually like coconut oil, and therefore you can easily add it to their dinner bowl. Why not try melting the fat and pouring it over dry cat food.
If that doesn’t work, you can mix it into their favorite canned food, masking any flavor they may dislike. Another option is to whip up some homemade kitty treats that use coconut oil in their ingredients.
Risks of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil may help your cat in many ways. But not every pet will react positively. One of the most prevalent cons to coconut oil is when a pet parent hasn’t done their homework and generously tips an entire tablespoon into their cat’s bowl.
The gastrointestinal reaction will be enough to put you off coconut oil for life. So before you make that mistake, please speak to your vet, offer your cat the correct (small) dose and monitor their weight carefully.
Weight gain and obesity are significant problems in cats, and let’s not forget that coconut oil is a fat. Yes, it can boost their metabolism and aid weight loss, but too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing, and you may need to back off the coconut oil and use it topically.
Coconut Oil Alternatives
If your cat doesn’t like coconut oil or reacts negatively to it, then you can try some alternatives. There is no winner as a lot of these oils provide different benefits. As usual, it’s best to speak to your veterinarian to make sure that you choose the best oil source for your furry friends.
- Fish Oil (salmon, anchovy, cod liver, or krill) is a long-chain fatty acid that’s rich in Omega 3 polyunsaturated fat. Fish oil is readily available in capsules for pets rather than for topical treatment.
- Hemp (CBD) Oil, full-spectrum and organic, offers many benefits and can be ingested or used topically with a carrier oil. Hemp oil contains phytocannabinoids from the plant that supports all functions of the endocannabinoid system.
- Olive oil derived from olives are rich in antioxidant ability due to the polyphenols, vitamin E, chlorophyll, and carotenoids. It can be used topically to soothe skin conditions but does not have the same anti-inflammatory properties as coconut oil.
- Ground Flaxseed Oil is an excellent oil for allergies, arthritis, blood pressure, inflammation, and kidney function. It’s also a fibrous addition to your cat’s diet and can promote healthy digestion.
- Sunflower Oil can be used to keep your pet’s skin shiny and healthy. Sunflower oil contains omega-6 fatty acids and promotes energy, immune function, organ function, and heart health.
Coconut Oil, Choose the Best for Your Pet
The quality of coconut oil that you use for yourself and your pet is essential. Copra Coconut Oil includes refinement, bleaching, and deodorizing using high temperatures that destroy valuable oil components.
Alternatively, when you choose a Virgin Coconut Oil, you’re opting for an oil that offers a higher content of Vitamin E, antioxidants, and sterol. Both oil qualities have a similar fatty acid profile and the presence of lauric acid.
Where they differ is in the extraction process. Virgin coconut oil is superior and offers increased health benefits due to its polyphenols, an impactful antioxidant that can reduce the likelihood of disease.
When it comes to caring for your pet, we know you want the very best. Choose a virgin coconut oil that is free of additives, solvents, or other harmful chemicals. When your veterinarian has given coconut oil their nod of approval, go on and add it to your kitty’s diet. Hopefully, the results will be a longer, happier, and healthier life for your companion animal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is coconut oil safe for cats?
Coconut oil is not toxic to animals, although it can cause diarrhea or vomiting if you’re giving them too high a dose.
How do I give my cat coconut oil?
While your kitty may seem the fussy type, cats usually like coconut oil and therefore easily add to their diet. Why not try melting it to pour over their food or mix it into some tasty canned food. Another fun way to add it to their diet is to whip up some DIY kitty treats that include coconut oil.
Are there risks to give my cat coconut oil?
One of the most prevalent cons to coconut oil is when a pet parent generously tips an entire tablespoon into their cat’s bowl. The gastrointestinal reaction will be enough to put you off coconut oil for life. Weight gain and obesity are significant problems in cats, and let’s not forget that coconut oil is a fat.