One of the latest and greatest trends in holistic wellness is none other than coconut oil. Although coconut oil has served as a cooking oil for centuries, many people are now buying it for its health benefits. From boosting the immune system to serving as an all–natural moisturizer, to promoting weight loss, coconut oil is quickly becoming a staple in many cabinets. As more people began to realize the incredible effects of coconut oil, pet owners started to wonder whether the oil could also benefit their four-legged friends.
We’re here to tell you that coconut oil may benefit your feline in more ways than you might have first imagined. In this article, we’ll cover what you need to know about coconut oil for cats. The slew of benefits may surprise even the most ‘in-the-know’ cat parent. Let’s get started!
What is Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is the edible, fatty oil obtained from the coconut palm. The oil has a wide range of applications, from being an ingredient in many candies to its use in cooking. While coconut oil is nearly 100% fat, the structure of fat found in coconut oil is quite different from the saturated fat found in most animal products. The saturated fat found in many animal products is primarily comprised of long-chain fatty acids. Conversely, coconut oil has high amounts of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Experts associate many of coconut oil’s benefits with these high MCT levels. Additionally, MCTs are more difficult for the body to convert into stored fat. Therefore, the fats are easier for the body to burn off, unlike long-chain fatty acids.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Cats
In terms of our feline friends, cat owners are finding that coconut oil has several benefits that can help to reduce the necessity for many conventional medications (which are often accompanied by a slew of scary side effects). Let’s take a look at the ways in which coconut oil may help your cat.
Can You Use Coconut Oil on Cats for Fleas?
Coconut oil has powerful anti-parasitic abilities. Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mange mites are suffocated by the high-fat content of coconut oil, making it an all–natural pest control and repellant. Coconut oil is also known for its antimicrobial properties, which help to prevent bites from becoming infected. Furthermore, coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory properties work to promote healing and soothe bites. Depending on the season and the region of the world in which you live, fleas and ticks can be a real issue for cats and dogs. Many pet owners who prefer to use all–natural parasite control have found that coconut oil can work wonders.
Oral Health Benefits
Coconut oil is also wonderful for boosting oral health in cats. Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) is the number one oral disease in both cats and dogs. Experts have found that by rubbing coconut oil on your cat’s gums every day, pet owners can treat cases of mild gingivitis and help to reduce the associated pain and inflammation.
Additionally, coconut oil can also prevent periodontal disease in cats. As with many holistic remedies and preventative measures, the effects and benefits will vary from cat to cat. If your feline has an oral disease, it is imperative that you talk to your veterinarian regarding the necessary treatment and how coconut oil may be able to help.
One of the most common uses of coconut oil for pets is in the treatment of skin allergies. Coconut oil’s high lauric acid content confers powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. These properties are incredibly effective at relieving allergic reactions that can cause skin irritations.
Additionally, many pet owners have found that applying a thin layer of coconut oil to their cat’s coat can help to protect against environmental allergens. While most environmental allergens may cause people to experience itchy eyes and a runny nose, many cats will instead develop horrifically irritating skin problems. These skin irritations cause most cats (and dogs) to itch uncontrollably and can lead to self-inflicted wounds and abrasions. Open wounds are a breeding ground for bacterial infections and a number of other unpleasant possibilities. As you can see, something as simple as an environmental allergen can quickly turn into a situation that you’ll want to avoid. In these cases, coconut oil can help.
Overall Skin Conditions and Coat Health
That’s not the only way in which coconut oil can help to promote skin health! In fact, coconut oil contains high levels of vitamin E. Vitamin E is extremely beneficial in repairing damaged skin and can help promote skin regeneration. It is also safe enough to apply directly to burns, cuts, skin abrasions, and rashes. Additionally, many pets will lick skin cream medications off, and this can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Luckily, coconut oil is completely safe for your cat to lick off, as it can also be used internally (more on that in a moment!). By using coconut oil both internally and externally, cat owners can naturally and safely promote overall skin and coat health.
Interestingly enough, the use of coconut oil has been linked to a reduction in hairballs. Because coconut oil helps to promote a healthy coat, many cat owners report a decrease in shedding, and therefore, a reduction in the amount of hair the cat consumes while cleaning and grooming themselves. For cats that are more prone to shedding and subsequent hairballs, coconut oil can make a positive difference for the feline’s gastrointestinal tract.
Coconut oil also serves as a lubricant for cats with hairball issues. Most conventional hairball treatments contain mineral oil. Conversely, coconut oil proves to be a healthier, non-petroleum based option that many pet owners prefer for their feline friends.
Reducing & Preventing Inflammation
As we previously mentioned, coconut oil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce and prevent a slew of conditions. It is important for cat owners to understand that inflammation is directly linked to nearly every disease and health condition imaginable. From allergies to cancer, inflammation is usually at the root of the problem. Many cat owners have found that coconut oil helps to alleviate current inflammation and also works to prevent the potential development of inflammation.
Furthermore, inflammation is also the main problem in diseases like arthritis in cats, which can cause your feline to lose mobility, and experience a severe amount of pain. Many cat owners have reported that coconut oil has apparently helped to reduce their feline’s arthritic inflammation and associated discomfort. As an added bonus, many cat owners also report that coconut oil has helped to boost their aging feline’s overall energy levels and made them feel like the best version of themselves again.
Fighting Bacterial Infections
Coconut oil also has powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties that can be incredibly beneficial for many pet owners, especially if you have a cat that likes to explore the great outdoors and is prone to coming home with skin abrasions. Coconut oil can be used to treat viral and bacterial infections both internally and externally. In fact, the antimicrobial properties of the lauric acid in coconut oil can effectively reduce harmful bacteria that can quickly multiply in the gut.
Speaking of the intestinal tract… The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties of coconut oil also boost overall digestive health. These powerful properties work to heal injuries in the gastrointestinal tract and help to prevent chronic inflammation. Again, inflammation, particularly chronic inflammation, can lead to the development of a slew of serious health issues that pet owners must prevent whenever possible.
As we previously mentioned, another great way in which coconut oil aids digestion is through the effects of lauric acid. The antimicrobial effects of lauric acid effectively eliminate harmful bacteria, fungi, and parasites that may exist in the cat’s gut.
Furthermore, coconut oil’s medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) are easily digestible and can help the body effectively absorb vitamins and nutrients from the cat’s food source.
Supporting Liver Health
Many experts suggest that coconut oil may help to promote liver health and overall liver function. How is this possible? Well, many believe that the MCFAs found in coconut oil can effectively protect the liver against free radicals and therefore prevent free radical degeneration in the liver.
We likely don’t have to tell you the importance of a fully functioning liver. The liver plays an extremely important role in the detoxification processes of the body. If the liver isn’t functioning optimally, numerous subsequent issues will inevitably develop. By feeding your feline coconut oil, cat owners can help to protect this vital organ from potential damage caused by viruses, as well as free radicals.
Paw Pad Damage
Many cat owners use coconut oil to help repair their cat’s damaged paw pads. Many felines love to explore, which can consequently mean bruises and cuts to their paws. Not only can this cause your feline discomfort, but open wounds are a breeding ground for infection. Luckily, applying coconut oil can help to alleviate the pain and inflammation, and prevent the development of bacterial infections as their paw heals naturally.
How to Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil for cats can be used either internally or externally. In most cases, the condition that you are treating will dictate the specific way in which the oil should be used. There are rare cases in which a cat can be allergic to coconut oil. Therefore, keeping a close eye on your feline when the product is first introduced is extremely important.
As with any new dietary supplement, it is best to introduce coconut oil slowly. Ingesting too much coconut oil too quickly can cause diarrhea, greasy stools, and/or vomiting. For an average sized cat, we recommend starting with as little as 1/8 of a teaspoon per day. Pet owners can gradually work up to giving their cat 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil once or twice per day. There is no need to rush the process. Trust us, slowly implementing the new supplement is the best way to go about it.
In cases of hairball prevention, the coconut oil supplement can be given less often, typically a few times weekly. It is important to monitor your cat’s hairballs and make sure that they are occurring less frequently. Cat owners can then either use coconut oil more or less often, according to their cat’s individual needs. Be sure to consult your vet if you have any doubts or concerns.
Feeding coconut oil to cats generally isn’t a problem. In fact, many cat owners report that their feline enjoys the taste. However, if you have a picky eater on your hands, try mixing the coconut oil in with your cat’s favorite canned food.
In order to treat skin conditions caused by fleas or allergies, coconut oil can be used externally and applied directly to the cat’s skin and coat. Coconut oil is non-toxic, so pet parents don’t have to worry about their cat licking the tasty oil. The anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil can provide immediate relief to irritated skin, all while helping to prevent infection. If your cat is experiencing skin issues, we highly recommend giving coconut oil a try.
Coconut Oil Precautions
Even though coconut oil can be beneficial to many cats, it doesn’t come entirely risk-free. The main risk associated with coconut oil is its potential to cause gastrointestinal upset. Some cats can tolerate coconut oil without any problems. However, other cats may have bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, especially if too much coconut oil is given too quickly.
Additionally, experts advise that coconut oil should be used with caution or avoided entirely in cats with pancreatic issues. The high levels of saturated fats in coconut oil can cause the development of additional and worsening conditions.
Furthermore, coconut oil is by no means a low-calorie food. If your feline suffers from weight problems or obesity, we recommend choosing a healthier alternative. Ask your vet for specific recommendations for your cat.
Best Coconut Oil for Cats
If you choose to purchase coconut oil for your cat, there are specific details you should be aware of. Not all coconut oil is created equally. Pet owners should make sure that they purchase coconut oil that is of a high quality, human-grade, and organic. The product should be all–natural and made without chemical additives. As with most health trends, more and more companies are now producing coconut oil products, as they recognize opportunities for increasing growth in sales. This also means that not all coconut oil products may be up to the standards that you should want for your four-legged friend. Do your homework! Make sure you are only purchasing the best of the best for your feline companion.
Coconut Oil Alternatives
As we previously mentioned, some cats (for a multitude of reasons) don’t tolerate coconut oil. In these cases, pet owners should explore other options that may better suit their feline’s tastes and needs. For instance, many vets recommend fish oil, which contains the added bonus of omega–3 fatty acids. However, fish oil should not be used topically. For topical use, many pet parents have found that olive oil can help with various skin conditions.
As always, we recommend talking to your veterinarian regarding the best option available for your feline’s individual needs. All cats are different and it is important for pet owners to understand that just because a supplement works for one of their pets, doesn’t mean it will work just as well for another.
Bonus! Coconut Oil for Dogs
We know that many of our readers have both cats and dogs. A common question is whether or not a new dietary supplement can be used for all of their furry family members. It is important for pet owners to always double check – as many supplements can be beneficial to dogs, but may actually be harmful to cats.
Thankfully, studies have found that both cats and dogs can benefit from coconut oil. In fact, coconut oil for dogs may have even more advantages than the supplement has for cats.
Aiding Weight Loss
Obesity can be a real problem for many dogs. Weight issues can lead to a slew of additional conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and respiratory distress (just to name a few). That’s where coconut oil comes into play. The MCFAs in coconut oil can help to regulate the thyroid gland and help to promote weight loss. Coconut oil (in moderation of course) can also help to give your dog more energy for increased exercise and thus aid in weight management.
Alleviating Digestive Issues
Similar to its effects in cats, coconut oil can also help to alleviate digestive issues and reduce gastrointestinal inflammation in dogs. It can also help to relieve issues such as inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis. Again, always start off slowly. Too much coconut oil can have the exact opposite effect and cause gastrointestinal upset.
Boosting the Immune System
Coconut oil can also help to boost your dog’s immune system. By adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet, its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties can work to prevent infection and disease.
Healing Cracked Paw Pads
Another benefit of coconut oil for both cats and dogs is its ability to help heal cracked paw pads, all while acting as a barrier against bacterial infections.
Overall Skin and Coat Health
Additionally, coconut oil can help to alleviate itching associated with allergies and promote overall coat health. The supplement can protect Fido against fleas and ticks, as well as prevent and treat yeast and fungal infections.
Endocrine/Metabolic System Support
The benefits don’t stop there! Coconut oil also supports the endocrine system, and works to regulate and balance insulin. However, more research studies are needed to confirm its role in diabetes (in both humans and animals).
Coconut oil also helps to maintain strong bones and can provide relief against joint inflammation and associated pain.
Brain, Ear, and Eye Health
Finally, the lauric acid content in coconut oil reportedly has remarkable benefits for the dog’s brain, ears, and eyes.
As you can see, the benefits of coconut oil for your pets are hard to ignore. Whether you have a cat, dog, or both, we highly recommend using coconut oil as a way to treat or prevent a slew of ailments.
Coconut Oil for Cats: The Bottom Line
We know that you want the very best for your pet. In many cases, this means understanding the risks of conventional medications and recognizing that all–natural alternatives are available. One of our favorite alternatives is none other than coconut oil for cats and dogs. As a pet owner, it is important to always do your homework when it comes to ensuring your cat’s health and wellbeing. Just because something is a new fad doesn’t mean you should immediately jump on the bandwagon. With that said, we firmly believe in the health benefits associated with coconut oil for cats. If your cat has any of the health concerns mentioned in this article, talk to your vet about whether coconut oil can help.