Is coconut oil safe for cats? And are there any health benefits of coconut oil for pets?
Yes, coconut oil is both safe and beneficial. While the research for coconut oil use in pets is still in its early stages, many cat owners report improvements after adding coconut oil to their cats’ food bowls or skin.
In this article, we look at the science behind coconut oil for cats. And if you have already made it part of the first aid kit, we endorse your decision and highlight the many ways coconut oil adds value to your cat’s life.
Table of Contents
Is Coconut Oil Okay for Cats?
Yes, coconut oil is safe for cats, although it can cause some side effects when used incorrectly. Gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting or diarrhea, can be a problem if giving your cat too much coconut oil.
It is essential to start with small amounts of coconut oil for your cat and gradually work your way up. At first, give as little as 1/8 teaspoon daily, and once your cat gets used to the new supplement, you can increase the amount of coconut oil to up to half teaspoon twice a day.
As with any diet addition, consult your veterinarian before you start using coconut oil for your cat. The vet knows your cat’s medical history and can advise whether coconut oil would be beneficial or unnecessary.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Cats
Coconut oil contains naturally occurring saturated fats in the form of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), including lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid. The lauric acid content is critical as it alters fat metabolism, and instead of supporting fat storage, it is quickly burned for energy.
Many studies are demonstrating the importance of essential fatty acids for cats. But let’s see which health issues and conditions can benefit from the coconut’s fatty acid profile.
Coconut Oil Supports Cat Skin and Coat
Coconut oil supports a cat’s skin and coat health on several levels – it nourishes and moisturizes dry skin, soothes irritations and bug bites, and repels pests (fleas, ticks, mange, ear mites). Plus, it has strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, thus preventing common skin infections.
Coconut oil Helps Cat Digestion
The caprylic acid in coconut oil works to remove harmful bacteria, parasites, and fungi from your cat’s gut, thus resulting in more efficient vitamin and mineral absorption. Plus, coconut oil adds water and bulk to the cat’s stool preventing constipation issues.
Coconut Oil Helps Reduce Inflammation in Cats
From mild inflammatory bowel disease to arthritis in cats, coconut oil may ease discomfort caused by inflammation. It can even help with gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Coconut oil contains various anti-inflammatory compounds as well as naturally occurring antioxidants.
Coconut Oil Helps Prevent Cat Hairballs
Coconut helps combats hairballs on two levels. First, it supports fur health, thus decreasing shedding and hairball formation (when coughed up, they irritate the respiratory tract). Second, it is a lubricant that makes the passage of hairballs through the GI tract easier.
Coconut Oil Helps Boost a Cat’s Immune System
Coconut oil is an excellent way of boosting immune defenses in cats. Because of its lauric acid content, it has strong anti-bacterial, antifungal, and anti-viral properties, meaning it can prevent infections and fight off harmful pathogens like bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Coconut Oil Helps Cat Liver Health
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides and antioxidants that support healthy liver function. Described as the “hardest working organ,” the liver is under constant pressure and responsible for many vital functions and processes.
Coconut Oil Promotes Cat Pancreas Health
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, lower their desire to overeat, and aid in weight loss.
How to Give Cats Coconut Oil
While cats are fussy eaters, they usually like coconut oil, thus making its addition to the menu rather straightforward. The easiest way to use coconut oil for cats is to melt the product in the microwave and pour it over the kibble.
If that does not work, you can mix the melted coconut oil with canned cat food which will mask the scent and flavor. Another option is to whip up some homemade treats featuring coconut oil in their ingredients.
When giving your cat coconut oil, pay attention to two things. First, always purchase virgin coconut oil and products (you can find lots of options on the CocoTherapy site). Second, stick to the recommended dosing guidelines. This way, you will achieve optimal results without the risk of giving your cat an upset stomach.
Risks of Coconut Oil for Cats
Coconut oil has various health benefits, but not every cat reacts the same. The most common issue occurs when cats are given too much coconut oil in their food bowl.
The gastrointestinal reaction (vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss) will be enough to put kitty and you off coconut oil for life. So before you make that mistake, please speak to your veterinarian and ensure you are offering the correct dose.
Another risk you need to consider is weight gain. Obesity is a common problem in cats, so let’s not forget that coconut oil is high in calories. Yes, it can boost metabolic functions and weight loss, but if used inadequately, the high-fat content will make your cat obese. Monitor your cat’s weight carefully and switch to topical use if the number on the scale increases.
Finally, coconut oil should not be given at all or used under the vet’s careful monitoring in cats suffering from chronic pancreatitis and cats with metabolic function disorders.
Keep in mind that any supplement or natural remedy can do more harm than good if misused. Therefore, close collaboration with the vet is critical when using coconut oil. Because of the potential risks, the ASPCA places coconut oil on its list of “People foods to avoid feeding your pets. “
Alternatives to Coconut Oil for Cats
If your cat does not like coconut oil or has adverse reactions, try some alternatives. As always, it is best to consult with your veterinarian and ensure you are using the right oil for your cat’s needs, as different oils come with different benefits.
Fish oil (salmon, anchovy, cod liver, or krill) is rich in omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acid. Fish oil supplements for pets are readily available in capsules.
Full-spectrum and organic CBD oil offers many benefits and can be used orally and topically. Hemp oil is rich in cannabinoids with various health benefits. We recommend using the Honest Paws Pet CBD Oil.
Derived from olives, olive oil has strong antioxidant properties due to the high content of polyphenols, vitamin E, chlorophyll, and carotenoids. It has less potent anti-inflammatory properties than coconut oil, but it is soothing for the skin.
Flaxseed oil is an excellent oil for cats with allergies, arthritis, blood pressure issues, inflammation, and kidney disease. It is also a fibrous addition to your cat’s diet and will aid digestion.
The sunflower oil can be used to keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy and shiny. Sunflower oil contains omega-6 fatty acids and promotes high energy levels, healthy organ, and heart function, and boosted immune system.
Our Final Thoughts on Coconut Oil for Cats
Our final verdict is that coconut oil for cats is definitely beneficial. With powers stemming from the high-fat content, coconut oil offers several health benefits and can be used in the management of various conditions.
Choose a virgin coconut oil that is free of additives, solvents, or other harmful chemicals. And, once your veterinarian gives the go ahead, start supplementing. Hopefully, the result will be a longer, happier, and healthier life for your cat.