Coconut oil is growing in popularity with many people using it as a supplement to aid with weight loss and to reduce symptoms of illness and disease, all with no adverse effects.
However, cats do not have the same constitution as humans and what’s safe for us is not necessarily safe for them. Is coconut oil safe for cats? Can cats have coconut oil applied to their skin or included in their diet? Let’s find out if it is beneficial to them or even dangerous.
Coconut oil is not reported to harm cats but this doesn’t mean you should begin adding it to their diet or using it on their skin. Just because coconut oil is not reported to be bad for cats doesn’t guarantee that it’s therefore good for them.
Cat owners should really research all the facts before using coconut oil with their cats in any way. Here’s what we found.
Coconut oil and cats
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is extracted from the flesh of coconuts. It comes in virgin and refined varieties.
Virgin coconut oil is less processed than the refined version, and tastes sweet with a strong coconut flavor.
Refined coconut oil is more processed and has less scent and taste. It is used as a cooking oil and in various recipes.
Can cats eat coconut oil?
If you’re a fan of coconut oil you may be considering adding it to your cat’s diet. If you are, have a chat with your vet first.
The following are reasons given for including coconut oil in a cat’s diet:
- As furball relief. Adding coconut oil to a cats daily diet is thought to reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract caused as a cat coughs and heaves to regurgitate balls of its own fur. It is also believed coconut oil helps a cat eliminate hairballs as waste more easily by keeping them moist.
- To correct digestive issues. It is believed that coconut oil might help to relieve constipation in cats as it has natural laxative and ant-inflammatory qualities.
- Inflammation relief. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, there’s a belief that coconut oil can be used as a supplement to relieve the pain of arthritis and a variety of joint conditions.
- Improve brain function. Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are widely linked to improving brain health. People hope it will assist with a cat’s cognitive health as it ages
The trouble is, the benefits listed above have not been clinically tested by scientists. Unless you can find proof from controlled clinical trials it is best no to believe any of these claims.
Although coconut oil is not known to be poisonous to cats, it is quite calorific and could lead to unnecessary weight gain.
Can you put coconut oil on a cat?
Coconut oil is present in many human toiletry items from shampoo and hair conditioner to body butter and sun lotion. It doesn’t harm our hair or skin so can you use coconut oil on cats?
Many owners believe coconut oil improves dry skin conditions in cats when rubbed into affected areas. Some even apply it to prevent dry skin from forming and to make a cat’s coat shiny.
Again, these claims have not been clinically proven and so you should proceed with caution if you are thinking of using coconut oil on your cat’s skin or fur. Consult your vet before trying this out.
If you want a shampoo that’s loved by cat owners and developed to prevent dry itch skin you could try Earthbath Aloe and Oatmeal Shampoo which is conveniently available on Amazon. You can see all the details and the latest price by following this link.
Here are a few more shampoos we’ve reviewed and really like.
Is coconut oil harmful to cats?
Whether it is ever harmful is unknown as there is no documented evidence. However here are a few things to bear in mind before giving your cat coconut oil:
- Diarrhea. As coconut oil is said to have laxative qualities, too much could give your cat a bout of diarrhea. Too many episodes can quickly lead to dehydration which can be dangerous for a cat.
- Licking it off. If you apply coconut oil to your cat’s skin or fur, it might lick it all off before it has any effect. And of course, if it does this a lot, your cat could get diarrhea.
- High calories. If your cat tends to gain weight easily, adding coconut oil to its daily diet could exacerbate this problem and lead to weight-related illnesses.
- Allergies. Your cat might develop a coconut oil allergy or even have an instant reaction.
Does coconut oil really benefit cats?
Coconut oil is widely believed to have amazing health benefits for humans and many owners rave about its positive effect on their cats. Unfortunately, these claims are unsubstantiated. Where there’s no scientific support you have to take what other people say with a pinch of salt.
We’re not saying that coconut oil has no benefit for cats, we’re just saying there is no scientific proof so please proceed with caution if you decide to use it.
It may be well be correct that the MCTs present in coconut oil have anti-inflammatory abilities and it would be wonderful if this natural product could ease a cat’s digestive disorders, arthritis and joint issues. It might well do but it is difficult to prove this.
No one wants to see their cat suffering with dry, itchy skin so if coconut oil can improve these conditions it should be used. But any benefits could be easily negated if your cat licks the oil off and ends up with diarrhea!
If a natural product like coconut oil could slow down or prevent cognitive issues in senior cats it would be a wonderful thing. Perhaps one day a rich cat lover will properly fund the research and prove it does. If I ever fit this bill, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.
I am reticent to use anything on my cats that isn’t scientifically proven to work and I always seek the advice of a vet. This is the advice I give to you.
Cats and coconut oil: our conclusion
We’re all for natural remedies and coconut oil is one that’s gaining in popularity. However, until there is conclusive evidence of it health benefits for cat, whether given orally or applied topically, it isn’t something I would put my all out trust in or recommend.
That said, if you are an owner who knows your cat well and is able to determine if coconut oil is helping any ailments they have then, in conjunction with your vet, you are the best person to make the choice.