Coconut oil is a go-to for many people daily. With tons of health benefits, it’s no secret that this powerful “superfood” can aid in a plethora of health issues as well as boosting overall immunity. Most mornings I mix a Tablespoon of coconut oil with my protein shake, and not only does it fill me up, it gives me energy throughout the day.
Some people use coconut oil for cooking; others use it for the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties. Some use it to aid in digestion; others use it to aid in weight loss. Some people, like myself, simply use it for energy and an overall immunity boost.
Since it offers so many benefits to humans, is it safe for animals as well, particularly cats?
First, let’s take a look at what coconut oil is, exactly.
What is Coconut oil?
Coconut oil comes from mature coconuts and is commonly used in both food and health products for its myriad of health benefits. It is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) and is made of Caprylic acid, Lauric acid, and Capric acid.
The cool thing about MCTs is that they are more easily digestible than long-chain triglycerides (which include olive oil, avocado oil, and fish oil). Nutritionists love MCTs because they are easily processed by the liver, which means they are quickly converted to energy and not fat inside the body.
Coconut oil is tasteless, colorless, and is available refined or unrefined. So, if you are thinking, I don’t like coconut, that shouldn’t matter.
What are the benefits of Coconut oil?
The benefits of coconut oil are vast. I have already mentioned a few, but here are some others:
- A boost in good cholesterol
- Good for regulating blood sugar and diabetes
- helps fight against Alzheimer’s Disease
- Helps prevent heart disease
- Helps control blood pressure
- Aids in liver health
- Boosts energy
- Aids with digestion
- Keeps skin healthy
- Can help with weight loss
Some people cook or bake with coconut oil, while others add a teaspoon or two to their coffee, tea, or protein shakes. Some people eat it plain (I haven’t gotten that brave!), while others take it as a supplement. You can also apply it topically to your hair or skin.
Some popular brands include Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Thrive Market Organic, Ethically-Sourced Virgin Coconut Oil, Dr. Bronner’s Whole Kernel Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, and Kelapo Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.
Is coconut oil safe for cats?
With all the benefits of this superfood, you may think, like many others, that coconut oil is a miracle cure-all. So, is it safe for cats?
The short answer is, we aren’t 100% sure, and here’s why: there has only been limited research into the benefits of coconut oil in cats. While some cat owners swear by coconut oil for their cat’s overall health, all we have are owner reports, not actual research studies.
However, based on anecdotal evidence from cat owners, we have learned the following:
Coconut oil may clear up a cat’s skin issues:
The most common use of coconut oil in cats is for skin concerns. Cat owners have used a small amount of coconut oil topically onto their cat’s skin and fur for dry skin or psoriasis. Some use it on their cats to keep their skin clear and coat shiny.
Coconut oil may soothe a cat’s stomach troubles:
Cat owners have reported using coconut oil to help with their cat’s digestive issues, particularly constipation. The medium-chain fatty acids make it a natural laxative and anti-inflammatory, which may aid with stomach issues.
Coconut oil may alleviate inflammation:
Just like humans, as cats age, they naturally become more susceptible to arthritis and painful joints. Because of the anti-inflammatory properties found in coconut oil, it may help alleviate inflammation in cats.
Coconut oil may relieve discomfort caused by hairballs:
Hairballs are a pain to deal with, for both owner and cat. (I just scraped one off my bedroom floor this morning from my cat, Libby!) Owners have claimed that adding coconut oil to their cat’s diet has helped reduce inflammation in their respiratory tract, thus allowing the cat to pass easily pass hairballs.
Coconut oil may improve a cat’s brain health:
The MCTs found in coconut oil have been clinically proven to improve brain health in humans. Cat owners have reported that adding around ¼ teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight twice a day helps aid their cat with cognitive function.
So, should I give my cat coconut oil?
Don’t use coconut oil on your cat until you talk to your veterinarian, who should be able to tell you which uses are safe and in what amounts. Topical uses are safer and easier to administer. For example, you could slather a little coconut oil on your cat’s skin and then rinse any excess off.
If you want to give your cat coconut oil orally, consult your vet first. He or she should be able to give you a proper dose and administering techniques. They will also advise you of the risks and benefits of oral coconut oil, especially if your cat has a history of health issues.
Whether you want to give your cat coconut oil orally or topically, make sure you get unrefined (AKA virgin) over refined. Cold-pressed coconut oil is the best choice.
Do note that coconut oil is high in fat and calories, so if you introduce this oil to your cat, do so in moderation as it can cause weight gain. Discontinue use immediately if your cat vomits, has trouble breathing, stops eating, or has another adverse reaction.
While further research and testing still needs to be done to know if coconut oil can benefit your cat, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, especially regarding cats who suffer from skin allergies or arthritic pain.
As popular as coconut oil is, we will probably see research studies done in the near future. Then, we can have a more definite answer on coconut oil for cats.
Until then, consult your veterinarian and let them guide you.