Coconut Oil for Cats: Not Just for People Anymore
What's good for you can be good for your cat, too!
From some of the buzz about coconut oil, it would be easy to believe it's some sort of magic potion. There's no question that it's great for humans but what about for your purring friend? There are many benefits to coconut oil for cats. It's antifungal, antibiotic and helps balance the good and bad bacteria in the GI tract. Some of the benefits include: a healthier coat, nutritional supplements, constipation relief and skin protection. Below are some more indepth ways coconut oil can help your cat.
- Supports Nutrition
Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but it also has a wide range of fatty acids that react with the enzymes in the GI tract. Not only do these acids help to balance good and bad bacteria, they also help the gut absorb other nutrients. Coconut oil contains vitamins E and K as well as trace amounts of iron.
- Contributes to a Healthy Coat
Just like you, your cat needs oil for healthy skin and hair. You can give your cat a half teaspoon of coconut oil two to three times a week as a supplement. The oil may help to keep the cat's coat healthy and make your trip to the groomer less frequent.
- Stops Hairballs
Prevent hairballs by keeping your cat from ingesting too much hair. Coconut oil is better than many of the commercial hairball treatments on the market. "Many commercial hairball remedies contain petroleum jelly or mineral oil," Jenna Milich of Meow Lifestyle explains.
- Hides Medication
It can be tough to give your cat a tablet. "They see that pill coming and run the other way," laughs T.J. Schoenborn of Victoria's All Natural Pets. "Make it easy on yourself by grinding up the pill and spreading a thin layer of coconut oil over your cat's paws. Then stick the powdered medication to the oil. Your cat will lick every bit of the oil off her paws, taking the medicine with it."
- Eases Constipation
A change in food, especially to raw food, can change your cat's digestive tract. If your vet has told you that your cat is healthy and that there is no intestinal blockage but just some difficulty passing stool, coconut oil may just help things flow along a little more smoothly. Just give him a half teaspoon of oil with his food. The oil softens the stool, allowing it to pass.
- Protects Tender Skin
White cats, especially, can suffer from sun exposure when they spend a lot of time outdoors. Prevent the drying effects of the weather by applying a thin coat of coconut oil to the cat's nose and the tips of her ears. "Use the oil sparingly," advises Dr. Michelle Danna-Christian of Boston Street Animal Hospital. "Your cat will try to groom the oil away."
Use care when using coconut oil for cats -- always be sure to talk to your vet first. It's also important to keep in mind that fat has its downsides. "It is a fat and can result in weight gain," points out Dr. Danna-Christian. Do not use it to treat disease or infection. Keep your servings of coconut oil small: half a teaspoon or less for an adult cat. Young or small cats should be limited to smaller doses of a quarter teaspoon.
Start by coating your finger with the oil and letting your cat lick it off. Then move forward by adding one eighth to one quarter teaspoon of oil to their food, or let them lick it off a toy or treat. Watch your cat's weight carefully. If he starts to gain, back off on the fat and add more activity to his day.
Dr. Mark D. Waldrop of Nashville Cat Clinic (who recommends fish oil too) was also consulted for this article.
To read about coconut oil for dogs, check out Is Coconut Oil Good for Dogs?
Shellie Braeuner, is an award-winning children's author. She earned an M.Ed from Vanderbilt in Human Developmental Counseling and has worked as a nanny for more than 25 years.
*This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be providing medical advice and is not a substitute for such advice. The reader should always consult a health care provider concerning any medical condition or treatment plan. Neither Care.com nor the author assumes any responsibility or liability with respect to use of any information contained herein.
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