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6 Health Benefits of Coconut Oil for Cats: Vet Approved Guide & Tips

Vet approved

	Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


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

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Have you ever noticed that your cat likes coconut oil so much that it will be on you like white on rice when you bring out the jar? They keep trying to get their licks in because they are attracted to the smell, taste, texture, or even a combination of the three.

While the answer to why your cat likes coconut oil so much is pretty simple, the benefits of coconut oil are a bit more detailed. Maybe our intelligent little companions are aware of all the health benefits associated with it and we just don’t have any way of knowing.

Regardless, keep reading to learn more about the interesting reasons why coconut oil can be beneficial for your cat, which may explain why they like it so much.

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The 6 Benefits of Coconut Oil for Cats

1. Promotes Skin and Coat Health

You’ve likely heard how great coconut oil is for skin and hair, but did you know the same benefits apply to our feline friends? When applied topically to your cat’s skin and coat, coconut oil provides a slew of benefits.

Since coconut oil is incredibly moisturizing, it helps with dryness and will keep the coat looking shiny and healthy. It is full of antioxidants and also includes antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties so it’s great for healing damaged skin, aiding the treatment of infections, and fighting off bacteria and fungus on the skin.

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2. It Reduces Inflammation

Coconut oil has proven effective at improving antioxidant status, which may help ease inflammation. The antioxidants in coconut oil work to stabilize free radicals within the body and neutralize the reactive atoms that are contributing factors to inflammation.

According to Healthline, a 45-day animal study on rats concluded that virgin coconut oil improved antioxidant status and prevented oxidative stress better than both olive oil and sunflower oil1.

Easing inflammation may help with mild to moderate pain management for cats that suffer from a variety of health conditions and chronic pain, including arthritis that occurs during their senior years.

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3. May Help with Hairballs

Hairballs are not uncommon, but they are potentially dangerous to your cat due to the risk of intestinal obstruction. They are the result of too much hair being ingested by your cat during grooming.

If used on your cat’s coat, coconut oil can improve skin and coat health, which may help reduce shedding and leave your cat less prone to developing hairballs. In addition, the anti-inflammatory properties of coconut oil may help with the inflammation of the respiratory tract when they are regurgitating the hair.

The improved digestive function will also allow the ingested hair to pass more easily through the digestive system and reduce the need for regurgitation. If your cat suffers from hairballs, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about other things you can do to prevent hairballs.

cat hairball
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4. Aids in Dental Health

Cats are highly susceptible to dental disease and research has shown that anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of cats ages 4 years old and older will suffer from some form of dental disease. Coconut oil is often used by people for dental health, especially with oil pulling.

The reason coconut oil is touted as a dental health aid is that it contains a high concentration of lauric acid, which is known for having antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight bacteria, plaque, and gingivitis. This isn’t just limited to humans, it goes for cats too.

Many commercial cat toothpaste contains coconut oil and when used with other dental hygiene practices, it may help maintain overall oral health.

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5. Helps with Digestion and Constipation

Coconut oil is very high in fat and rich in medium-chain fatty acids or MCFAs. These fatty acids are easily digestible and aid in the absorption of vitamins and essential nutrients from the food.

The anti-inflammatory properties also play a vital role in healthy digestion since they may reduce inflammation of the digestive tract. The lauric acid content can support a healthy gut microbiome and fight off harmful bacteria in the gut.

The antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties are also excellent for digestive health since they can help heal injuries and keep things in balance. Coconut oil will also add moisture to the stool to help it pass through the intestines more easily.

coconut and coconut oil
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6. Boosts Immunity

As mentioned, coconut oil contains antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, all of which help support the immune system and can protect your cat against a variety of infections and even parasites.

The way that it works is that the lauric acid in the oil is converted into monolaurin, which is a molecule that can fight disease-causing organisms but won’t destroy good bacteria within the body. So not only does it help ward off illnesses, but it can also help reduce the severity of allergic reactions.

cat paw divider The 3 Things to Consider Before Giving Coconut Oil to Your Cat

1. High in Fat and Calories

Coconut oil is very high in fat and calorie content, which is one of the reasons it offers so many benefits. That being said, cats are obligate carnivores that require a diet high in protein but only moderate amounts of fat. If your cat consumes too much fat in their diet, it can put them at risk of obesity which can lead to a variety of health conditions.

If you choose to offer your cat coconut oil, it should not be done so regularly and should only be given in small amounts. Make sure you discuss this with your vet and follow their instructions when it comes to the quantity and frequency.

Coconut Oil
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2. Digestive Upset

Since coconut oil is full of fatty acids, it can have a natural laxative effect. Not only does it loosen the stool and help it move more easily through the digestive system, but it may also ease the inflammation of the digestive tract and keep things running smoothly overall.

Large quantities of coconut oil could easily cause some digestive discomfort, nausea, and even vomiting in some cases. If you choose to feed your cat coconut oil, small amounts will suffice, and you should never give them more than the recommended amount.

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3. Talk to Your Veterinarian

Before you ever add any type of supplement or make any changes to your cat’s diet, you should first consult with your veterinarian. They are familiar with your cat’s health status and will be able to guide you in the best way to maintain their overall health and wellness and address any issues they may have.

a cat in a veterinary clinic being examined by a doctor
Image Credit: Libre, Shutterstock

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Cats may enjoy coconut oil because of its taste, but it has many benefits if applied topically, consumed in small amounts, and even used in their dental hygiene routine. Coconut oil is not something that should be fed to your cat regularly or in large amounts. Always talk to your cat’s veterinarian before supplementing with coconut oil or making any other change to your cat’s dietary regimen.

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Featured Image Credit: Ekaterina Kolomeets, Shutterstock