Coconut oil is often billed as a solution for nearly every wellness concern. People incorporate coconut oil into recipes and topical products. They use it as a moisturizer and a hair treatment. It seems to work for almost everything. But what about pets?
You do your best to support your cat’s wellness, and you might be wondering if coconut oil fits into that equation. Before you use coconut oil in your cat’s routine, here are a few things to consider.
The Potential Benefits of Coconut Oil for Cats
Cats with dry, itchy skin crave relief just as much as people do. While people have varying degrees of skin sensitivity, it’s safe to assume that a cat’s skin is much more sensitive. Cats also lick their skin in the process of grooming themselves, which means that they may ingest small amounts of topical treatments.
Coconut oil may be a great alternative to lotion for cats with itchy skin. Coconut oil is completely natural. It doesn’t contain any artificial colors, fragrances, or preservatives. Applying a modest amount of coconut oil to your cat’s skin can help to soothe dry, itchy skin while creating a protective barrier over the skin as it heals.
Studies on the health benefits of ingested coconut oil are very limited, both in humans and in animals. Some studies seem to suggest that the MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) may have digestive health benefits. Cats may find relief from hairballs when provided with small amounts of dietary coconut oil.
Although there is a wealth of claims surrounding coconut oil and its anti-inflammatory benefits, these benefits have not been well researched just yet. If you believe your pet is injured, has a digestive disorder, or is dealing with discomfort associated with inflammation, you need to bring your cat to your veterinarian. Coconut oil shouldn’t be used in place of proper veterinary care.
The Potential Risks of Coconut Oil for Cats
Coconut oil is not toxic or poisonous to your cat, but you should still think twice before introducing it into your cat’s diet. Topically applied coconut oil won’t pose any risks beyond oily spots on your furniture from places where your cat rested. Orally ingested coconut oil may pose more significant risks.
Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat. In fact, it’s as much as 80% saturated fat by volume. Coconut oil is not a wise choice for cats who are overweight, diabetic cats, or cats with a history of pancreatic health concerns.
Since coconut oil is very high in calories, you would need to eliminate treats or reduce portion sizes for your cat’s overall diet to accommodate regular coconut oil use. It’s highly inadvisable to sacrifice the nutrients your cat needs in favor of adding more saturated fat to their diet.
Many cats will experience an upset stomach or diarrhea as a result of ingesting coconut oil. In fact, some holistic veterinarians recommend adding half a teaspoon of coconut oil to the food of cats who are constipated without any intestinal blockages. Coconut oil softens stool and makes it easier for pets to relieve themselves. It should always be used in conjunction with other practices to promote your cat’s digestive health.
Before introducing coconut oil into your cat’s diet, have a quick discussion with your veterinarian. Many cats will encounter more risks than benefits.
How To Use Coconut Oil for Your Cats
You should consult with your vet before feeding your cat coconut oil. Topically applied coconut oil for itchy or dry skin can be applied sparingly. Warm up the coconut oil just enough for it to soften, and check the temperature. You can warm the coconut oil by putting the desired amount into a clean microwave-safe glass bowl or even a clean coffee mug. Coconut oil that’s too warm may be harmful to your cat’s sensitive skin. Gently massage the coconut oil into the dry spots sparingly. Even just a teaspoon of coconut oil can go a long way.
Safer Oils for Your Cat
Coconut oil is not as nutritionally beneficial to cats as fish oil. Fish oil is rich in omega 3 fats that promote skin health and brain health. Supplementing your cat’s diet with small amounts of fatty fish is more enjoyable and beneficial for your cat. There’s nothing inherently exciting about half a teaspoon of coconut oil.
Unseasoned cooked salmon is an excellent addition to your cat’s diet. Sprinkling an ounce or two per week on top of your cat’s food makes an exciting treat that your cat will enjoy. Best of all, your cat’s body is better prepared to digest that salmon and utilize its nutritional benefits.
Canned salmon, pouched salmon, smoked salmon, or cured salmon products contain very high levels of sodium. If you want to integrate salmon into your cat’s diet, you need to prepare it from scratch. You can use fresh salmon or frozen plain salmon fillets and bake them in the oven until they’re thoroughly cooked. Cooked salmon can be safely stored in the fridge for only 3 to 4 days, so making small batches will help prevent waste.
If you’d prefer a simpler solution, switch to fresh cat food that utilizes salmon as a core ingredient. These cat foods are prepared, cooked, and refrigerated.
Slowly introduce new foods like salmon or fresh foods into your cat’s diet. If your cat is on a special diet or has unique requirements, speak to your veterinarian before making any major changes. If your cat is on a standard diet, start by slowly offering small amounts of new food in conjunction with regular food. Observe your cat’s reaction. If the food is well-tolerated, slowly transition until the new food fully replaces the old food.
CBD Oil May Be a Better Option
If you’re interested in giving your cat coconut oil for benefits outside of skin health, it may be wise to reconsider. If you’re looking to support your cat’s brain health, promote normal GI health, and maintain joint mobility, consider trying CBD instead.
VETCBD Hemp’s CBD topical and tincture are both formulated with organic extra virgin olive oil rather than coconut oil. Olive oil is tolerated better by most animals, making it a safer choice when used in very small amounts.
CBD offers a benefit that coconut oil cannot. CBD can help keep pets calm when environmental stress kicks in. Cats who don’t want to go to the vet or cats who feel overwhelmed when houseguests come to visit may appreciate the soothing, calming benefits of CBD.
VETCBD Hemp formulates our pet-safe CBD oil with American grown hemp. It promotes your cat’s wellbeing, and it won’t get your pets high. Our CBD oil comes with a plastic dropper that won’t shatter if your cat nibbles on the end. If your cat won’t take it from the dropper, you can incorporate it into treats or mix it with your cat’s favorite food.
CBD can safely be administered in weight-appropriate doses every 8 to 12 hours and is safe for daily use. Continuous use will help to promote wellbeing in the long term. Cats with joint mobility issues may benefit most from consistent dosing, showing a greater interest in playing or exploring over time.