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Can Cats Eat Coconut Oil? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Safety Guide

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Can Cats Eat coconut-oil

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Coconut oil has been used in kitchens for a long time. Over the past few years, however, it has become a household name. While your mother may not have used coconut oil in the kitchen when you were growing up, you most likely have some in your cabinet right now. Oddly enough, this may not be because it’s great to cook with. You might have it because you’ve heard the rumors of all the extra things people claim that coconut oil can do, from DIY house fixes to conditioning hair.

While people around the world sing the praises of coconut oil and all its holistic uses, pet parents are left wondering if it’s safe to use for their pets, especially cats. While coconut oil is non-toxic for cats, that doesn’t mean it is safe or suitable for them. Coconut oil is highly caloric and pure fat. It is included on the ASPCA list of people foods to avoid feeding pets because it can cause digestive problems in your cat.

While a lick or two is unlikely to cause any problems for your cat, serving coconut oil in large amounts or regularly can lead to issues. Let’s take a better look at coconut oil and the reasons that you should think carefully about it before giving any to your kitty.

What Is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is derived from matured coconuts and is used for cooking and as an ingredient in several of the products we use daily. This oil contains saturated fatty acids known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are easy to digest and don’t turn into fat as quickly. You’ll also find caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid, all of which provide antifungal¹ and antibacterial properties.² These ingredients are one of the main reasons that so many people want to add coconut oil to their diet in some form in hopes of reaping its benefits.

coconut oil in a bowl
Photo Credit: SchaOn, Pixabay

The Benefits of Coconut Oil

When it comes to coconut oil, there are many different opinions on its benefits for humans. While some people claim it helps with weight loss and digestive issues, others rave about the way it makes their skin, nails, and hair look. Scientifically, however, most claims can’t be backed up that clearly. There have been tests done, but mostly, they are inconclusive. This means most of us need to form our own opinions when it comes to the benefits of coconut oil.

Coconut Oil and Your Cat

Like with anything you plan on giving your cat that isn’t part of their normal diet, you should consult your veterinarian. You may be wondering why, if coconut oil is considered non-toxic for your kitty. The reason is that your cat gets all the fat that they need from eating a complete and balanced diet, so there is no need to add any coconut oil to their meals. Coconut oil is also highly caloric, and it can cause digestive problems in some kitties or if fed in excessive amounts. The potential antibacterial and antifungal properties may be great, but an overweight and sick kitty isn’t.

When it comes to cats, oral coconut oil benefits have not been fully defined. Still, some people believe that coconut oil can aid digestion issues and boost the immune system. It’s also believed to help aging cats with brain function and cognition. You may find that applying this oil will help your cat with skin issues they may be dealing with.

coconut oil
Photo Credit: monicore, Pixabay

How to Use Coconut Oil on Cats

If you are planning on using coconut oil on your cat, there are two ways that you can do this. When giving it to your cat orally, medical advice from the vet should always be followed. They will help you come up with a plan on how much your cat should get and how often. This is great advice if your cat is known for eating a bit more than others or has gastrointestinal issues. Coconut oil can cause digestive upset when too much is administered.

The other and less risky use of coconut oil is topical. If your kitty has a skin issue or needs help maintaining their coat, this is the route that you may want to go. However, while you may feel this is a safer alternative and doesn’t require reaching out to your vet for advice, remember your cat will be licking at the oil you apply. They will ingest a bit. Be prepared for this, and watch for any signs of diarrhea or other issues when using coconut oil.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a fan of coconut oil and its proclaimed benefits or new to the party, understanding how best to use it is important. Coconut oil is not toxic, and your cat will probably be fine if they sneak a few licks of it. However, you should speak to your vet if you are considering any occasional or ongoing administration based on its advertised benefits. If you feel your cat needs a little bit of coconut oil added to their daily life, consult your vet and learn the proper dosages before proceeding. This will give you peace of mind and allow you to keep your cat safe. Then you can decide whether coconut oil will stay a part of your daily routine.

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