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Can Cats Drink Sunflower Oil? Is it Healthy For Them?

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Vet, MRCVS

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

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Cats are incredibly curious creatures that like to poke their noses, tongues, mouths, and paws into anything and everything. An inquisitive cat in the kitchen tends to be a common occurrence for cat owners who cook. It is important to know if your kitty can be harmed by whatever it eats off your counter.

When it comes to food, most cats are pretty good about avoiding foods they shouldn’t eat and focusing on foods they should. Many cats won’t touch a piece of candy, but they will happily accept a piece of freshly cooked lamb! Occasionally, cats will eat foods and ingredients that we’re not certain are safe for them. You might wonder if your cat will be harmed if you leave some sunflower oil out on the counter and it starts drinking it.

Overall, sunflower oil is safe for cats to consume in small quantities. Read on to find out everything you need to know about giving sunflower oil to your beloved feline friend!

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Is Sunflower Oil Found in Commercial Cat Food?

Sunflower oil is a vegetable oil that is extracted from sunflower seeds and is probably not something cats ever ate in the wild. However, sunflower oil is polyunsaturated fat and is found in many different types of food, including commercial cat food. A small amount of sunflower oil is a healthy addition to your cat’s diet and that’s why it can be found listed as an ingredient in many different types of commercial cat foods and snacks.

grey cat eating food
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

How Does Sunflower Oil Benefit Cats?

There are vitamins and minerals in sunflower oil that cats need to stay healthy. Vitamin K is one such nutrient, which has the effect of preventing bleeding problems by helping blood clot properly. Additionally, sunflower oil helps maintain the health of your cat’s skin and coat over time. Even cats’ eyes and brains benefit from this type of oil’s omega fatty acids. Sunflower oil can also help make mealtime more appealing, especially for cats who are getting older and losing enthusiasm for food.

Can Cats be Harmed by Sunflower Oil?

Sunflower oil is not toxic to cats, but there are some precautions to take before introducing any oil to your pet. The first and foremost risk is that your cat could gain weight if it consumes too much oil regularly. Feline obesity is associated with many health problems, including diabetes. It is also possible to cause digestive issues and diarrhea by giving your cat too much sunflower oil. Cats with a history of pancreatitis and diabetes should not be given extra sunflower oil.

Sunflower oil is not a substitute for real food and should only be taken as a supplement. When your cat consumes enough sunflower oil to cause them to consume fewer calories, their diet might not be complete.

fat cat
Image Credit: Andreas Almstedt, Pixabay

Should You Sometimes Deliberately Give Your Cat Sunflower Oil?

Providing your cat with a balanced diet already meets their fat requirements. Some people feel that hairballs may be reduced by adding oil to their cat’s diet. There are also commercially prepared hairball treatments that contain sunflower oil available to buy online. A veterinarian should be consulted before intentionally adding any type of oil to your cat’s diet, to ensure it is appropriate.

Is it Safe for Cats to Consume Canned Tuna in Sunflower Oil?

Adding tuna to your cat’s diet can be a healthy choice. It is very low in carbohydrates as well as high in protein. It contains essential fatty acids and may even help keep inflammation under control. The added health benefits of tuna packed in sunflower oil make it a better choice than tuna packed in brine.

Tuna does, however, have some health concerns to be aware of. Primarily, tuna contains fewer vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than balanced commercial cat food. Cats may become nutrient deficient if their food is replaced too frequently by tuna. Additionally, tuna contains high levels of mercury,which is a toxin and best to be avoided.

Tuna should only be served as a treat rather than as a meal.

maine coon cat eating
Image Credit: Lita Keire, Shutterstock

What Other Kinds of Vegetable Oils Can Cats Eat?

The ASPCA and the Pet Poison Helpline do not list vegetable oils commonly used for cooking (such as soybean, olive, peanut, or canola oil) as dangerous to cats. Although it’s not necessarily good for them, at least you know it won’t cause any serious problems. The ASPCA, however, recommends pet owners avoid giving coconuts and coconut oil to their pets. A small amount of the oil will not harm them, but it may cause stomach upset, loose stools, or diarrhea. The same applies to vegetable oils. In general fish oils are better for cats.

Is it Safe for Cats to Eat Other Canned Proteins Packed in Sunflower oil?

Other canned proteins packed in sunflower oil can be enjoyed by cats occasionally as a snack or treat as long as they aren’t consumed too frequently. You should look for canned mackerel, sardines, crab, liver, and chicken when shopping for your cat. If you decide to buy canned meats or fish packed in sunflower oil for your cat, make sure they do not contain any additional ingredients or spices. They should only contain protein and sunflower oil and you should drain most of this off before feeding. Watch out for sodium especially, as cats are much more sensitive to salt than humans.

Cat eating wet food from white bowl on wooden floor
Image Credit: IMG Stock Studio, Shutterstock

Should Cats Eat Anchovies?

No, cats should not eat anchovies. Anchovies are high in sodium, which can be harmful to a cat’s health. Although anchovies are a good source of protein for cats, their high salt content is dangerous for cats.  A high sodium diet harms a cat’s health by leading to excessive thirst and urination. This puts the cat at risk for dehydration, which can cause kidney damage.

Is it Safe for Cats to Eat Meat Cooked in Sunflower Oil?

Humans often feed their cats cooked meat from the kitchens of their parents. Our cats should eat meat that is free of additives like salt and onions. We can, however, add some sunflower oil to the pan before adding some chicken or beef chunks to cook for our pets. By adding sunflower oil, the meat will cook more evenly and will be more nutritious. You should only give your cat cooked chicken or beef occasionally as a treat and it should not replace their regular food.

cat eating chicken meat
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

If the oil is used more as an occasional treat or snack than as a main course, feeding sunflower oil to cats has no major ill effects but is not recommended on a regular basis. Cats benefit more from fish oils than vegetable oils. Before adding new food or ingredients to your cat’s diet, including sunflower oil, it is always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian.

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Featured Image: Valentina_G, Shutterstock

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