Coconut oil is such a debatable and confusing issue for most cat owners. I’ve read through many articles with varying opinions, studies, and experiences. I’d like to share what I researched and hopefully help you wrap your head around this to make a more informed decision to use, or not use, coconut oil for your cats.
So, is coconut oil good for cats? If your cat likes the taste and doesn’t have any adverse reactions to coconut oil, you can give very small amounts to them, not on a constant basis. You can also apply it topically if your cats have any skin issues and use it for their gums.
There are multiple double edge swords to giving your cats coconut oil, whether orally or topically. Some people advise against it completely, some say only use it topically and some use it orally in moderation.
In all these cases, everyone has their own experiences and opinions, including me, about giving your cat coconut oil.
I want to cover different angles here to show you the potential benefits of coconut oil and also concerns I’ve heard from cat owners about using this.
This way you can decide for yourself, for any reason, if you’d like to give coconut oil to your cats.
So, let’s get started.
Disclaimer Alert: Always consult your vet before giving your cat any supplement. Every cat is different and will have different reactions to this. Be careful and be mindful. We all want the best for our cats.
Potential Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Cats
Coconut oil is an extracted edible oil from the mature meat of a coconut. It’s processed in many ways but for our cats, we’re only concerned with the pure extra virgin coconut oil (food grade, non-hydrogenated) that hasn’t been fractionated.
I found this coconut oil for cats specifically if you’d like to try it.
Note: Pure extra-virgin coconut oil is roughly 65 % – 90% saturated fat. (This all depends on the total grams of fat content and total grama of saturated fat) It’s a lot of saturated fat in any fat.
Please use in moderation if given orally because it can cause diarrhea.
Cats obtain 2 fatty acids from the meat they eat:
- Linoleic acid (LA)
- Arachidonic acid (AA)
They can also benefit from fats and oils for optimal health like:
Coconut oil contains about 2% of linoleic acid.
It’s mainly made up of MCT’s (medium-chain triglycerides), which are great for us humans.
We don’t know enough about how MCT’s affect cats, but one study found that medium-chain triglycerides may contribute to hepatic lipidosis (life-threatening liver condition)
From the many sites, I’ve gone through, including the “medical” ones, they all tout various beneficial and anecdotal claims for your cats.
Many sites will say its great and others are totally against it, like this one. One blog suggests that would hurt your cat’s appetite.
For me, I think it has benefits if used topically, for oral health and very sparingly ingested for specific purposes. It’s not a “cure all”, but helpful to try when you’re looking to help your cat.
Below is Pudge The Cat who loves it:
Hopefully, scientists will find coconut oil helpful for cats with medical conditions, but there aren’t enough studies to prove any benefits or “cures”.
I feel the risks may outweigh the benefits.
Below are some of the “potential” (claims credible/not tested stats) benefits for your cats:
Topically and Orally:
- Helps with allergies
- Top Coat – you can add to their pads for protection from the ground outside
- Dry skin and itchiness
- Coat health – don’t apply too much because they’ll lick it off! Too much = no bueno
- Immune system
- Helps with hairballs – you can also use pumpkin! (http://meowlifestyle.com/pumpkin-for-cats-psl-recipe/)
- Reduce arthritis inflammation
- Improve bad breath
- Healthy stomach
- Helps for treating dermatitis
- Help to fight bacterial infections
- Helps minor abrasions to prevent infection – it’s high in lauric acid (antimicrobial)
- Relieves constipation – you can give 1/2 tsp per ten lbs. of body weight (1 – 2 times a day)
- Treat mild gingivitis – I rub this on my cat’s gums often (for pain and inflammation)
- Crusty noses and foot pads
- Wound healing
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Lymphangiectasia (poor bowel absorption)
- Cognitive dysfunction
How much coconut oil for cats? If you’re giving this to eat, I wouldn’t give it on a regular basis. For an average-size cat, try to give ¼ – ½ Tsp. Always gauge how they react after and over time.
How to introduce coconut oil to cats? You can introduce coconut oil to cats very slowly. This way you can see if your cat is allergic or if they even like it.
They may not tolerate it that well. It could cause diarrhea if you give too much too quickly.
Try and see if they’ll lick it from your finger, from a spoon or dab some on their nose. If they don’t, you can try mixing it with some wet canned food.
Hell, if they don’t like it or don’t like the smell you could smear it on things you don’t want your cats around… like the counter!
How To Apply Coconut Oil To Cats Skin
I’m guessing many people just rub it onto the fur of their cats, then use a brush to “comb” it in.
But what if you have a long-haired cat?
If you’re doing a spot treatment, then move the hair and apply.
If you want to rub it on a larger area, I would melt the coconut oil in a pan over the stove or microwave.
Then, while its warm and liquid form (not super hot) pour it over your cat so it seeps through their fur onto their skin. Then simply rub it into their skin.
Here is an experiment this lady did with 2 of her cats: More for entertainment!
Coconut Oil For Cats Hairballs
Coconut oil acts a non-petroleum based lubricant for your cat’s. You can use it to treat hairballs or use as a preventative measure.
Many people think hairballs are typical but I assure you that they are not normal for cats.
So, if your cat is experiencing this, start with a frequency of a few times per week with small amounts. It takes time to see a difference, s be patient.
Make note of how your cat reacts and if they are getting better.
Coconut Oil For Cats Ears
You can melt coconut oil and add a few drops to your cat’s ears to help with soothing itchiness, ear wax, and smother ear mites.
If they have issues with ear mites, first remove as many mites as you can with a cotton ball.
Then get an eye dropper to put a few drops of coconut oil in their ear.
Be quick here when folding the ear over, they’ll shake their head and get oil all over you.
You want to smother those mites!
You can apply to their ears every couple days for a month or so to help keep them clean and itch free.
Obviously, go see your vet if the ear mites are not going away.
If the ear mites left the ear, you can use DE (diatomaceous earth) carefully.
Avoiding the eyes and nose, put small amounts around the ears, then to the rest of the body. You’ll know if they are ingesting it because they’ll be sneezing.
So be careful here.
Coconut Oil For Cats Constipation
You can try using coconut oil to relieve constipation in your cat.
From the moisture and fatty acids, it easily absorbs into your cat’s digestive tract and moves along anything that’s backed up in the intestines.
Just make sure your cat is actually constipated.
You don’t want to run to the vet only to spend $500+ later that you could’ve done some preventative healing before.
You can watch their poop habits. They should be having a sticky semi-solid poop daily.
If they’re crying while going or vomiting a lot, they might be constipated.
A common cause of constipation is dehydration.
Make sure they’re eating a wet canned, raw, or cooked diet with plenty of exercises.
You can try pumpkin or digestive enzymes for overall colon health!
Try out alternatives first before you go running to the vet.
Coconut Oil For Cats Fleas
You can use coconut oil with high lauric acid to eliminate most fleas, ticks or mites from your cats. Just note, there may be flea eggs, in your carpets, bedding or around your house.
This may or may not get rid of them completely… maybe keep them at bay.
- Put some in your hands to melt it and rub it all over your cat.
- Then use a flea comb to get any remaining dead fleas and eggs.
- You could wash them after with cat shampoo as well to get the oil off.
- You can also use cotton balls to apply melted coconut oil. The only thing with using these is the oil gets a bit wasted being soaked in the cotton.
But however you’re most comfortable applying to your cats, do it
Below is a video showing this method:
NOTE: She says to apply the oil while “very hot”… don’t burn your cat’s skin and try to not leave all that oil on your cat after. (licking too much isn’t good and could cause diarrhea) Wash them after with natural cat specific soap. Not dawn soap, it’s too abrasive for cats.
Is coconut oil good for cats with kidney disease? Within coconut oil, there are Omega-3 fatty acids, which help provide energy, extra protein, and help in slowing down the progression of kidney disease (CKD). The omega 3’s may even slow the progression of cancer.
You can give your cat half a teaspoon per day to help with kidney disease. Always consult a vet before adding any supplement to your cat’s diet.
Can cats have coconut water? Giving coconut water to your cat is safe and a natural source of electrolytes that’s packed with vitamins and minerals.
Will coconut oil kill worms in cats? When you cat ingests coconut oil, it’ll convert the lauric acid into monolaurin. This substance is effective in helping to treat tapeworms, giardia and other parasites.
This also doesn’t kill any of the beneficial bacteria that is used to maintain your cat’s digestive tract.
There isn’t enough hard data or research to know enough about how coconut oil affects cats.
What we do know seems to worry and confuse us cat parents.
But the anecdotal stories out there seem to shed light that in some cases coconut oil is helpful for certain circumstances which green lights a consult with your vet.
As long as you understand that coconut oil is not likely to a be “cure”.
If you have experience with using coconut oil, please let me know your results and what you think below!
Becker, K. DVM (2013) Real Food For Healthy Dogs & Cats. USA, First Printing
Fife, B. C.N., N.D. (2013) The Coconut Oil Miracle. New York, NY, Penguin Publishing