One of the latest and greatest fads in holistic wellness is none other than coconut oil. While coconut oil has served as a cooking tool for centuries, now many people are 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 most everyone's cabinet. Once so many people began realizing the incredible effects of coconut oil, pet owners started to wonder if the oil could also benefit their four-legged friends.
We're here to tell you that coconut oil may be able to benefit your feline in more ways than you imagined. In this article, we'll cover all there is to know about coconut oil for cats. The slew of benefits may surprise even the most 'in-the-know' cat parent and have you running out to pick up a jar. 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 varying from being an ingredient in many candies to its use as a cooking base. While coconut oil is nearly 100% fat, the structure of fat found in coconut oil is quite different than 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 extremely high amounts of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Experts associate many of coconut oil's benefits to 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 are helping 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 that coconut oil may help your cat.
Coconut Oil for Fleas
Coconut oil has powerful anti-parasitic abilities. Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and mange are suffocated by the high-fat content of coconut oil, making it an all natural pest control and repellant. Additionally, coconut oil is known for its anti-microbial 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 you live in, fleas and ticks can be a real issue for cats and dogs. Many pet owners who prefer using all natural parasite control have found that coconut oil can work wonders.
Benefitting Oral Health
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 help treat cases of mild gingivitis and help reduce the associated pain and inflammation.
Additionally, coconut oil has shown to also serve as periodontal disease prevention for many cats. As with many holistic remedies and preventative measures, the effects and benefits will vary from cat to cat. If your feline is suffering from an oral disease, it is imperative that you take to your veterinarian regarding what necessary treatment is required and how coconut oil may be able to help.
One of the most common uses of coconut oil for pets is to treat atopic skin allergies. Coconut oil's high lauric acid content makes for 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 protect against environmental allergens. While most environmental allergens 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 that coconut oil can help 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 regrowth. It is also safe enough to apply directly to burns, cuts, skin abrasions, and rashes. Additionally, many pets will lick off skin cream medications which 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 themselves. For cats who are more prone to shedding and subsequent hairballs, implementing coconut oil can prove to 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 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 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 development and spreading of future inflammation.
Furthermore, inflammation is also tied to 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 helped to reduce their feline's arthritic inflammation and associated discomfort. As an added bonus, many cat owners also report that coconut oil helped 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 anti-fungal properties that can be incredibly beneficial for many pet owners, especially if you have a cat who likes exploring 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 anti-microbial properties of coconut oil's lauric acid content can effectively reduce harmful bacteria that can quickly multiply in the gut.
Speaking of the intestinal tract... The anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties of coconut oil also boost overall digestive health. The powerful properties work to heal injuries in the gastrointestinal tract and help 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 that coconut oil aids in digestion is through its lauric acid content. The lauric acid is anti-microbial and effectively eliminates harmful bacteria, fungi, and parasites that can exist in the cat's gut.
Finally, 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 promote liver health and overall liver function. How is this possible? Well, many believe that the medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) found in coconut oil can effectively protect the liver against free radicals and therefore prevent free radical degeneration to 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 process in the body. If the liver isn't as strong as it should be, there are an enormous amount of subsequent issues that will inevitably develop. By feeding your feline coconut oil, cat owners can help protect the vital organ from viruses as well as free radical damage.
Paw Pad Damage
Finally, many cat owners use coconut oil to help repair their cat's damaged paw pads. Many felines love exploring which can consequently mean rips and cuts to their delicate paws. Not only can this cause your feline discomfort, but open wounds are a breeding ground for infection. Luckily, applying coconut oil can help alleviate the pain and inflammation as well as prevent the development of bacterial infections while their paw is healing 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 is 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. Then, cat owners can either implement coconut oil more or less often according to their cat's individual needs.
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 into your cat's favorite canned food.
In order to treat skin conditions such as fleas or allergies, coconut oil can be used externally and be applied directly onto the cat's body. 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 benefit many cats, it doesn't come entirely risk-free. The main risk associated with coconut oil is its cause for gastrointestinal upset. Some cats tolerate coconut oil with no problem. However, other cats may have bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, especially if too much coconut oil is given too quickly.
Additionally, experts advise using coconut oil with caution when it comes to cats with pancreatic issues. The high amount of saturated fats can cause additional and worsening conditions to develop.
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 to coconut oil.
Best Coconut Oil for Cats
If you choose to purchase coconut oil for your cat, there are specific details to understand. Not all coconut oil is created equally. Pet owners should make sure that they purchase coconut oil that is high quality, human-grade, and organic. The product should be all natural and made without chemical additives. As with all health trends, more and more companies are producing coconut oil products as they see the growth in sales continuing to rise. This fact also means that not all coconut oil products are 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 needs. For instance, many vets recommend fish oil for cats which include 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 varying skin conditions.
As always, we recommend talking to your veterinarian regarding the best available option 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 for their cat as well.
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 benefit dogs but actually harm cats.
Thankfully, when it comes to coconut oil, studies have found that both cats and dogs can benefit. 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. The 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. By adding coconut oil to your dog's diet, it can help regulate the body's thyroid and help promote weight loss. Coconut oil can also give your dog more energy to exercise and thus aid in weight management.
Alleviating Digestive Issues
Like cats, coconut oil can also help alleviate digestive issues and reduce gastrointestinal inflammation in dogs. It can also help 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 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 alleviate skin itchiness resulting from 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 and metabolic system and works to regulate and balance insulin. In turn, this can help prevent diabetes in dogs.
Coconut oil also helps build strong bones and can provide relief against joint inflammation and associated pain.
Brain, Ears, and Eyes Health
Finally, the lauric acid content in coconut oil proves to have wonderful benefits for the dog's brain, ears, and eyes.
As you can see, the benefits of coconut oil for our pets are hard to ignore. Whether you have a cat, dog, or both, we highly recommend using coconut oil as a way to treat and prevent a slew of ailments.
Coconut Oil for Cats: The Bottom Line
We know that you want the very best for your four-legged companion. In many cases, this means understanding the risks of conventional medications and recognizing that there are all natural alternatives available. For obvious reasons, 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.