Coconut oil is very popular among cat owners as it provides natural protection from ticks and other parasites. In addition, this on-trend product is said to have numerous benefits. We will give you tips and information on how and when coconut oil can be a practical alternative to conventional remedies.
Coconut Oil for Cats
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What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is also known as coconut fat. It comes from copra, the pulp of the coconut. Coconut oil has been widely used in cooking for decades – primarily as a baking fat or as in ingredient in confectionery products like ice chocolate. This whitish, mildly scented and purely plant-based oil is very much on trend as an alternative to butter. Coconut oil is also popular as a skin and haircare product. As far as humans are concerned, many supposed effects of coconut oil cannot be scientifically proven. The high proportion of saturated fats are also grounds for concern when consumed regularly. But how can it be useful for cats?
Coconut oil – How it can help your cat
If you're looking for possible uses of coconut oil for our feline friends, you'll be pleased to hear that coconut oil is a real all-rounder. Depending on the desired effect, it can be applied to the coat or mixed into food. It has a pleasant aroma and is a purely natural product, which hardly carries any risk of side effects when applied externally. Some cat owners even combine external and internal application to get the best of both worlds. Coconut oil for cats is used in the following areas:
Coconut oil against ticks, fleas and mites
Parasites don't like the taste of lauric acid contained in coconut oil whatsoever: Ticks, fleas and mites run away when a host smelling of coconut oil approaches them. A number of dog and cat owners say that their pets remain parasite-free when coconut oil is regularly applied to their fur. However, you must apply it in the first place, which can be a challenge with cats. And if parasites are already in the fur, coconut oil is usually insufficient to get rid of them.
Coconut oil against worms
Coconut oil is said to have a preventive effect against intestinal parasites like worms. In this case the coconut oil should be in the food. Again, coconut oil is insufficient if worms are already present but has useful preventative effects. If you suspect your cat might have worms or giardia, contact your vet. They will prescribe appropriate deworming medication following a diagnosis.
Coconut oil for grooming
Coconut oil naturally contains plenty of lauric acid, which in turn is able to kill germs. That's why coconut oil can help cats with fur problems like dandruff, itchy patches and eczema. Nevertheless, you're best off taking your cat to the vet if you see something that worries you. Some skin conditions can be caused by be a cutaneous fungus. Pet owners are best advised to treat fungal skin infections according to their vet's exact instructions.
One of the benefits of coconut oil is adding shine to dull hair in cats. However, in this case it's best to take your cat to a vet. The cause could be a serious disease like diabetes or renal failure. If you use coconut oil too liberally for grooming purposes it can lead to greasy fur or diarrhoea due to licking.
Coconut oil for cat paws
Coconut oil can prevent swollen paws in winter. Effective paw care prevents painful cracks in the paw pads in snow and ice. These can come about if your cat frequently walks on streets and pavements that have been gritted with salt. Be aware though that many cats lick the coconut oil off straight away. If they are particularly thorough, hardly any preventive effect will remain.
What to consider?
There's no question that coconut oil can be used in many ways for our cats too. However, there are some things to consider.
External application can be difficult
External application of coconut oil isn't suitable for all cats. Many cats start to lick coconut oil off their paws or reachable body parts as soon as it is applied. Not only does this prevent the effect, but there is the added issue of diarrhoea. Alternatively, cat owners can apply coconut oil solely to the head and throat area for protection against ticks. Some cats find this unpleasant or even visibly disturbing, because the scent of coconut oil irritates them. Often only these areas – which are highly sought after by ticks – are protected.
Don't overestimate the effect on parasites
Some cat owners opt for coconut oil after spotting fleas or ticks on their cat, but coconut oil only has a preventive effect. If you notice parasites, a trip to the vet is in order. It’s worth noting that protective effect doesn't work for all cats and that the dosage cannot be generalised. Some cat owners report that they find far less ticks on their cat after applying coconut oil. Although cats are less likely to contract tick borne diseases than dogs or humans, many cat owners do want 100% reliable tick protection.
Not all effects are proven
The multi-faceted properties of coconut oil described here tempt some cat owners to try it on the off chance for symptoms ranging from bad breath to sores. However, symptoms can worsen in this period because coconut oil isn't a cure-all. For instance, it isn't clear whether coconut oil boosts the immune system of animals that regularly consume it in their food. Coconut oil is said to be helpful with diseases like cutaneous fungus, but it is essential to consult with a vet, who can offer a precise diagnosis and adapt treatment to this.
How much coconut oil can go in the cat food?
Not all cats tolerate coconut oil in their food. Give healthy cats of a normal weight a quarter to maximum half a teaspoon per day in their usual food. If the cat develops diarrhoea, stop using coconut oil after three days at the latest. If your cat tolerates the coconut oil, it can enjoy some of the benefits that come from regular ingestion. Coconut oil can improve the absorption of different minerals like magnesium, calcium and fat-soluble vitamins. It also helps some cats to regulate their digestion better.
If the cat is overweight, it's better not to add extra coconut oil to its food. This isn't just due to the extra calories, but also because a less fatty diet is healthier for the pancreas in overweight felines. You should ask your vet before regularly adding coconut oil to the food of chronically ill cats.
What needs to be considered when buying and storing coconut oil for cats?
- Cold-pressed oil contains valuable ingredients
- Recommended: Coconut oil from sustainable organic production
- Typical: Coconut oil liquefies at temperatures above 20ºC
- Protect the oil from sun exposure
Have your own experience
If you're curious about the positive effects of coconut oil for cats, don’t hesitate to give it a try. However, your expectations of this natural product shouldn't be too high. Hence, flea and tick protection depends on individual conditions and the number of parasites in the cat's surroundings. This means that it works with some cats, but others will still have ticks. In this case, every cat owner can decide for themselves whether they go for a tougher remedy or make a compromise with mild protection. Have you decided during the test period that coconut oil isn't suitable for your cat? No problem! You can continue to use it in the kitchen or as a skincare product.
Coronaviruses don't just affect us pet owners, but our furry friends too. In contrast to the new type of coronavirus affecting humans, feline coronavirus (FcoV) has already been known for several years. These include feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) and the much better-known feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). The latter causes fatal feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which leads to peritonitis and abdominal dropsy. On the other hand, people suffer from flu-like symptoms, especially those with weakened immune systems like elderly or sick people.