Coconut oil is one of the latest things being touted as a superfood both for humans and pet. More and more commercial holistic cat foods are including it in their recipes. Since cats are obligate carnivores, coconut oil seems an unusual fit for the feline diet. Can this improve the health of your cat?
The Potential Benefits of Coconut Oil
Holistic veterinarians recommend the use of coconut oil with cats because it contains a high quantity of a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid. Lauric acid is absorbed easily by a cat’s body and does not require the intervention of secretions from the pancreas and liver to break it down. A cat’s body uses lauric acid to create a compound called monolaurin which has antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Common uses for in cats include:
- Moisturize skin, paw pads, or a dry coat.
- Relieving allergies in a cat.
- Relieving constipation.
- Boosting the cat’s immune system.
- Assisting cuts and abrasions in healing.
Some sources also say that coconut oil can help cats with thyroid problems, diabetes, and hairballs. It is best to consult with a holistic veterinarian to find out how coconut oil can best help your cat.
3 Important Notes
Getting a firm diagnosis for your cat’s medical condition is a must.
Do not self-diagnose your cat or use any holistic remedy as a cure-all. Diagnosing illness in cats is difficult because cats do not show a lot of outward symptoms. Even a seasoned veterinarian can not tell the difference between many illnesses in cats without doing lab tests. Treating the wrong illness can have devastating results.
- Use ONLY extra virgin organic coconut oil with your cats.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat, which is evident in the fact that it is solid at room temperature (its melting point is around 76°F/24.5°C). Manufacturers will sometimes hydrogenate oils to make them even more shelf stable and thus more inexpensive. The process of hydrogenating requires adding hydrogen atoms to the coconut oil while heating it, which thickens the oil. These hydrogenated oils become trans fats and they are poorly digested by cats.
- The health benefits of coconut oil are highly debated.
Not all doctors, veterinarians or scientists agree that coconut oil has health benefits. Some strongly insist that is over-rated and could cause harm by adding tons of empty calories to your cat’s diet. Many of the studies these scientists use to bolster their points used hydrogenated coconut oil. Coconut oil is not approved by the FDA for medical use.
How to Use with Cats
External use is mostly to benefit the health of the cat’s skin and hair. First, clean the area where you would like to apply the coconut oil (or the cat’s whole body). Then use your hands to gently massage the oil into the area. Think of it as applying a nice, thick moisturizer to the cat’s skin and coat. Allow the oil to sit on the cat’s body for about 5 minutes. You will have to make sure that the cat does not lick it off -use an E-collar if necessary. Finally, give your cat a bath and rinse the oil out of the coat. It is fine to use shampoo. The coat should feel really soft!
Only a small amount of coconut oil is needed for internal use with cats. Give your cat ½ – 1 teaspoon (2.5 – 5 g) of coconut oil per 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of body weight once or twice per day. The oil can be placed in the cat’s food or licked directly off of a spoon. Some cats really enjoy the taste of it! This can be helpful for boosting the cat’s immune system and as a dietary fiber to relieve constipation.
Have you ever used coconut oil with your cats?
References & Digging Deeper