Is Coconut Oil Safe For Cats?

Coconut oil seems to be the new “superfood” these days. Everyone from fitness enthusiasts to health nuts is swapping olive and vegetable oils for coconut oil. But what about our furry feline friends – is coconut oil actually safe for cats?

With the recent rise in popularity of coconut oil for humans, it’s no wonder cat owners are curious if their cats can also reap the supposed benefits. The promise of shinier coats, fewer hairballs, and added nutrition seems too good to pass up!

However, the internet seems to offer mixed opinions as to whether or not coconut oil is truly safe for cats. So I wanted to cut through the confusion and give cat owners a definitive guide to using coconut oil for their cats.

coconut oil is generally safe for cats, but….there are some important considerations to keep in mind before adding it to your cat’s diet or grooming routine.

After extensive research, I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about the potential benefits and risks of coconut oil for cats. I’ll provide proper dosage guidance, discuss how to introduce it gradually, review application methods, and answer some common questions pet owners have.

I’ve compiled thorough, well-rounded information so you can make an informed decision about using coconut oil with your own cat. There’s a lot of great info to cover, so let’s get started!

What Is Coconut Oil?

Before we get into the details for cats, let’s start with a quick rundown on what exactly coconut oil is.

Coconut oil originates from the meat of mature coconuts. It is extracted from the white flesh inside the coconut. The oil is very high in saturated fats – around 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated.

Here’s a look at the main saturated fats found in coconut oil:

  • Lauric acid – Has antimicrobial and antiviral properties
  • Myristic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Stearic acid – Provides quick energy and has anti-inflammatory effects

In particular, lauric acid is thought to provide many of the health benefits of coconut oil due to its ability to fight bacteria and viruses.

In addition to saturated fats, coconut oil contains small amounts of:

  • Monounsaturated fats – Like oleic acid
  • Polyunsaturated fats – Like linoleic acid

Coconut oil also provides some nutritional components like:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

Now that we understand exactly what coconut oil is made of, let’s explore why cat owners may consider using it in the first place.

Potential Benefits of Coconut Oil for Cats

Coconut oil has gained popularity among humans for its supposed health benefits. But what about for our furry friends?

When given in safe amounts, coconut oil may provide cats with the following wellness perks:

Healthier Skin and Coat

The lauric acid in coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that can improve skin infections when applied topically. The fats can also moisturize dry, itchy skin.

When consumed, coconut oil’s nutrients can make their way to the skin as well. So it may improve coat shine and reduce dandruff when given internally.

Reduced Hairballs

Hairballs form when cats ingest hair while grooming. The slippery fat content in coconut oil helps move hair through the digestive tract to be eliminated instead of forming clumps.

Improved Digestion

The medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil provide easily absorbable energy. This can be particularly helpful for cats with pancreatic disorders or trouble properly digesting fat.

Brain Health

Some fatty acids found in coconut oil may help reduce cognitive decline and improve brain function. The potential brain boosting benefits are still being studied.

Oral Health

Applied topically to the teeth and gums, the antibacterial properties of coconut oil may improve dental health and reduce plaque.

Relieving Constipation

The high fat content acts as a mild laxative, which can help soften stools and allow constipated cats to pass them easier.

Weight Gain for Underweight Cats

For cats needing to gain weight, the high calorie content provides a concentrated energy source that can help put on extra pounds.

As you can see, there are quite a few potential benefits for using coconut oil with cats! However, it’s not as simple as just pouring it into their food bowl…

Is Coconut Oil Safe for Cats? Key Considerations

While coconut oil appears to be reasonably safe for most cats, there are some important factors to consider before using it:

Appropriate Dosage is Critical

First and foremost – the dose makes the poison. Giving too much coconut oil can definitely cause adverse effects.

Diarrhea, upset stomach, and even pancreatitis can result from excessive coconut oil intake in cats. So proper dosing is imperative.

General dosage guidelines are:

  • Skin/coat: Rub a small amount directly onto skin/coat as needed
  • Oral health: Dip toothbrush in oil or use pea-sized amount for swishing
  • Internal consumption: Up to 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight per day

Always start with much less than the maximum dose and gradually increase over 2-3 weeks while monitoring your cat’s reaction.

Purchase High Quality Oil

Be selective about the type of coconut oil you choose. Not all coconut oils are equal when it comes to safely using them with pets.

Always select organic, unrefined virgin coconut oil. Avoid refined, bleached, deodorized or hydrogenated coconut oil products.

Lower quality oils can contain chemical residues and the processing methods often remove many of the beneficial compounds like antioxidants and vitamins that make coconut oil so useful.

Go Slow With Introduction

Springing anything new on cats suddenly can cause digestive upset. Always start with tiny amounts of coconut oil and mix it into your cat’s regular food.

Gradually increase the dosage over 2-3 weeks to allow their system to adjust.

Limit Long-Term Use

Using coconut oil occasionally is likely fine for most cats, but regular, long-term use of high amounts may lead to side effects.

Weight gain, pancreatic issues, and overly greasy coats are potential adverse effects with prolonged daily use. Periodic use in cycles is likely safer.

Consult Your Vet

Your veterinarian is always the best source for supplements guidance. Discuss starting coconut oil with your vet before use, especially if your cat has any health conditions or takes medications.

Coconut oil can potentially interact with some medications like blood thinners. So having your vet monitor your cat is important for their safety.

Okay, now that we’ve covered the key considerations, let’s look at safe ways to use coconut oil for cats.

How to Use Coconut Oil for Cats

There are a few different ways coconut oil can be incorporated into your cat’s routine:

Improve Skin & Coat

Applying coconut oil directly onto your cat’s skin/coat allows the nutrients to get right to the source for providing benefits.

As little as 1-2 times per week is likely enough for most cats. Here are some tips:

  • Rub a small amount of melted coconut oil into areas of dry, itchy skin
  • Also apply to the fur for added conditioning effects
  • Start with 1-2 times per week and monitor skin condition closely
  • Discontinue use if you notice any greasiness or breakouts after application

Reduce Hairballs

Ingesting coconut oil can help reduce hairball formation through the lubricating effects internally. Here’s how:

  • Give your cat 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight, mixed into food
  • Start with 1-2 times per week
  • Can increase to daily for cats prone to frequent hairballs
  • Monitor stools – reduce amount if diarrhea develops

Support Oral Health

The natural antibacterial properties of coconut oil are beneficial for feline oral health as well. Follow these tips:

  • Rub a pea-sized amount directly onto your cat’s teeth and gums
  • Allow them to lick the remainder off their lips
  • Can also dip toothbrush in coconut oil before brushing
  • 1-2 times per week is suitable for reducing plaque and gingivitis

Relieve Constipation

The laxative effect of the high oil content can help get things moving. Here are some constipation tips:

  • Give 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs body weight with food
  • Can increase frequency to 2-3 times per week if stools are hard
  • Reduce the dosage if diarrhea occurs after administering

Increase Caloric Intake

The extra calories and nutrients in coconut oil are helpful for underweight cats who need to gain pounds. Here’s how to use it:

  • Start with 1/8 tsp per 10 lbs body weight
  • Mix into food or give directly by mouth with a dropper
  • Slowly increase every 3-5 days until reaching optimal dosage of 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs body weight
  • Carefully monitor weight and adjust amount as needed

As you can see, there are several options for how to use coconut oil with cats. Just be sure to introduce it slowly and pay attention to how your cat responds.

Now let’s go over some frequently asked questions about using coconut oil for cats.

Common Questions About Coconut Oil for Cats

Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding the use of coconut oil for cats:

Is it ok for cats to ingest coconut oil?

Yes, pure unrefined coconut oil is generally safe for cats to ingest in small amounts starting at 1/4 tsp and increasing slowly to 1/2 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight. The medium chain triglycerides provide an easily digestible energy source. Introduce it mixed into meals starting with just a drop or two.

Can coconut oil help cats gain weight?

Yes, the high calorie content of coconut oil helps underweight cats safely gain weight. The extra energy from calories and fats supports weight gain when combined with a nutritionally balanced diet. Start with 1/8 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight daily.

Does coconut oil help improve cat’s skin/coat conditions?

Yes, coconut oil can improve skin and coat issues in cats! The antimicrobial lauric acid fights infections contributing to problems. The fats also help moisturize dry, itchy skin and reduce dandruff. Apply a small amount directly onto affected skin/coat areas starting 1-2 times per week.

Is coconut oil an effective hairball remedy for cats?

Yes, coconut oil’s fat content helps lubricate the digestive tract allowing hair to pass through instead of forming obstructions and hairballs. Give your cat 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs with food 1-2 times per week as a hairball preventative. Increase frequency for cats prone to frequent hairballs.

Can I give my cat coconut oil every day?

Daily coconut oil may be fine for some cats, but introducing it gradually is best. Too much too soon can cause diarrhea or upset stomach. It’s generally best to limit intake to a few times a week for most cats. If giving it daily, monitor stool and appetite closely. Cycling on and off periods is likely safest long-term.

What is the optimal coconut oil dosage for cats?

General dosing guidelines are 1/4 teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight per day as the maximum amount, but start with much less. Give 1/8 tsp per 10 lbs body weight daily for the first 2-3 weeks, gradually increasing the dose and monitoring stool/appetite. Reduce amounts if GI upset occurs. Use less coconut oil for topical skin applications.

Are there any coconut oil risks or dangers for cats?

There are some risks if too much is given. Diarrhea, vomiting, pancreatitis and obesity can occur. That’s why gradual introduction and paying attention to your cat’s reaction is so important. Always consult your vet before using, especially if your cat has any health conditions or takes medications.

What’s the best type of coconut oil to use for cats?

The best coconut oil is organic, unrefined virgin – this retains the most nutrients and active compounds. Avoid refined, bleached, deodorized or hydrogenated oils. High quality, pure virgin coconut oil is the ideal choice for cats. Make sure it’s specifically designated as pet-safe.

The Takeaway: Is Coconut Oil Ultimately Safe for Cats?

So, after going over all of this extensive information – is coconut oil truly safe for cats?

The short answer is – yes, when used properly coconut oil is generally safe for cats!

Applied topically or given orally in appropriate amounts, coconut oil provides benefits for skin/coat, digestion, hairballs, oral health, constipation relief, brain function, and weight gain.

However, pet owners need to introduce it slowly, pay close attention to dosing, monitor for reactions, and consult their vet. Too much too fast, or long-term overuse, can definitely cause adverse effects.

But used moderately in cycles, high quality coconut oil can be a great supplement for cats! With the proper dosing guidance and application tips, your cat can safely enjoy all the benefits.