Caring for a cat and feeding her proper food is very important. The diet and water consumption keep her in top shape. With this in mind, cat owners are always looking for ways to spoil their kitties and keep them healthy. We know that Olive oil is among the best vegetable oils to consume. But can cats have Olive oil also?
Read on to find out whether cats can eat Olive oil or not, plus many other interesting things:
- FAQ list with answers to some of the most interesting facts on cats and Olive oil. Learn why it is a good hairball remedy and how exactly it acts. You’ll also find answers related to using other vegetable and essential oils for cat health.
- Pros (benefits) and cons (side effects) of Olive oil for cat consumption or use.
Is Olive Oil Safe for Cats? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Olive oil has long been known to maintain an optimal health in humans. There are many studies that show clear benefits for those who consume it daily. It has so many uses that almost anybody has a bottle in their homes.
Among those many uses, some of the most common are in the kitchen and in beauty. We can use Olive oil in pretty much any face or hair mask we can think of. It is also good for digestion and constipation.
And of course, we can add it to all sorts of sauces, salads and dishes for taste. Still, Olive oil is not recommended to be used in frying. Its fumes can be toxic and potentially cause cancer.
When you’re a cat owner, you know your kitty can suffer from constipation regularly. This is one of the main reasons for which one may think about using Olive oil on cats.
You wouldn’t be wrong either, but there are lots of things you must know about it. The following questions and answers should clear out many of your doubts.
Did You Know?
- Cats hate bitter foods and love those that are very fatty. Olive oil is very rich in fatty acids and has an appealing taste to most cats.
Leaving trivia aside, I will begin with the most obvious question of all:
Are olives really toxic to cats? (List of toxic household foods.)
I’ve found a lot of contradictory information on blogs and forums. Some people were really scared about giving their cats anything olive-derived. Naturally, I started researching in more depth about it.
Not only did I not find anything about olives being toxic, but most cats actually love them. I will give you the full insight on why soon. Until then, I did find some interesting research. It talks about some household foods that are poisoning to both cats and dogs.
Here’s the list of poisoning or toxic foods to cats (and dogs):
- Chocolate and all cocoa-based products.
- Macadamia nuts.
- Products sweetened with xylitol.
- Alcohol (ethanol).
Vets say that on top of being toxic, onions can also cause anemia in cats. Cod liver oil is very risky and should only be used with a vet’s approval. It can cause hypervitaminosis D (vitamin D toxicity), especially if used in excess.
Generally speaking, though not a rule, cats are not that into sweet foods. Like I said in the trivia bit, they also hate bitter foods. But Olive oil doesn’t belong to these categories. Cats can eat Olive oil and it’s also safe for them.
In other words, Olive oil is not bad for cats and it’s not toxic either. It is very high in calories though, so in most cases, it may not be wise or healthy to feed them too much.
Can cats process plant-derived oils?
One study focused on vegetarian diets versus meat-based diets for pets. They open up by explaining to us how evolution changed wild dogs and cats into today’s domesticated pets. Since we’re talking about cats only, I’ve extracted the following paragraph:
“[…] cats generally lack the genetic, biochemical and behavioral adaptations that enable dogs to thrive on an omnivorous diet, and indeed, domesticated cats select a macronutrient profile (52% of metabolizable energy (ME) from protein) similar to the diet of wild cats.”
As we go deeper into their research and findings, the same study concludes that:
[…] There is—at least in theory—no reason why diets comprised entirely of plants, minerals, and synthetically-based ingredients (i.e., vegan diets) cannot meet the necessary palatability, bioavailability, and nutritional requirements of cats and dogs […].
This shows us that cats can have Olive oil, without complications. They also say that:
[…] A growing body of evidence appears to indicate that dogs and cats can survive, and indeed thrive, on nutritionally-sound vegetarian and vegan diets. […]
It appears that there’s no danger in feeding your cat some Olive oil, every now and then. You can read the full study and conclusions here.
Olive oil contains terpenic acids and phenols. Does this mean that Olive oil is bad for cats? No, Olive oil is not bad for cats, but it’s not especially beneficial either.
It’s true that the liver of a cat lacks an enzyme called glucuronosyltransferase. This enzyme is responsible for metabolizing volatile molecules, especially phenols.
Its lack means that cats can’t process volatile molecules too well. This translates into a very slow elimination (up to 3 days). You can see why using Olive oil on a long term may cause your kitty some problems, especially buildups.
Luckily though, Olive oil is not made only from molecules the cats can’t metabolize properly. The other fats and antioxidants are absorbed and used in a normal way.
So, plant-derived fats are not harmful to cats, but they are not exactly nutritious either.
Another thing you probably didn’t know, is that Olive oil and olives contain compounds that are very similar to those in catnip. Just like not all kitties react the same around catnip, not all will react the same around olives either.
Olive oil contains isoprenoids, most commonly known as terpenoids (similar to terpenes). Example of isoprenoids: beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol and squalene. The substance found in catnip is called nepetalactone.
Both these compounds stimulate pheromone receptors. They can slightly alter the brain of a cat. Not to worry though, neither catnip nor Olive oil can cause addiction or overdose.
These high effects may last about a quarter of an hour. Now isn’t that nice, to be able to give your kitty a thrill, every now and then?! Some cats are very demanding and keep looking to get “high”. I find that quite amusing.
How common is constipation in cats and what is Olive oil’s role?
A healthy cat should defecate once or twice a day, or once every other day. If you see her trying to do so or whimpering, she is most probably constipated.
Cats often suffer from constipation for two main reasons. The first reason is because their drinking habits remain constant. They don’t compensate for certain drier foods they consume, like dogs do.
The second reason is because their tongues are more abrasive than dogs’. When they groom themselves, they catch those hairs that come off their coats and swallow them.
Other reasons for which your cat may be constipated are stress, change of diet or other health issues.
The role of Olive oil as hairball herbal remedy for cats is to ease the passage of the hairball and stool. It can do that because it’s known to have cholagogue and laxative effects.
This means that Olive oil increases the bile production, causing downward purging. It also induces gallbladder contractions and the release of pancreatic enzymes. Thus, giving your cat Olive oil for constipation can help her get rid of the waste.
But how much Olive oil should I give my cat for constipation, you might wonder. Many veterinary sites recommend the use of about a quarter teaspoon or 5 – 10 drops of oil mixed with food.
You should not give your cat more than the recommended dose for constipation or hairball elimination. Olive oil is also not recommended for long-term use. It’s best used occasionally, when the cat is struggling with constipation.
What can hairballs do to a cat and how can Olive oil help?
The tongue of cats is full of rough papillae to help with eating. These rough papillae catch the hairs that fall off the fur.
Those hairs will build up in the cat’s digestive tract (stomach and intestines). They are not digested so, when the hairball is large enough, it comes out (by regurgitation).
Hairballs can cause digestive problems. The most common is of course constipation. It can also cause irritation on the esophagus, because of regurgitation and vomiting.
The latter can be induced by the bile and it can easily repeat itself. This is a bad sign as it can lead to chronic gastritis.
Other problems caused by hairballs may be:
- Dry cough.
- Lack of appetite.
- Bowel obstruction.
Cats in the wild eat grass instinctively, because it promotes intestinal transit. Thus, they can eliminate hairballs easier. But domesticated cats usually need our help.
Olive oil is among the first cat hairball home remedy that comes to mind, right? You wouldn’t be wrong either. It works on humans, so it must work on cats too.
If you’re still wondering if cats can have Olive oil or not, rest assured they can. Olive oil is a good remedy for cat furballs. Moderate amounts will be able to induce hairball vomiting, as it will reach the stomach and intestine. It will then increase the bile production and cause contractions to push the hairball out.
Why is Olive oil a good remedy for cat well-being?
Many times, Olive oil has been proven effective in enhancing our health. It showed very encouraging results in removing atherosclerotic lesions and cardiac damage. It was then concluded that the oil can be taken to prevent these problems in the first place.
Another study also showed that using Olive oil regularly has the ability to prevent strokes.
Olive oil is relatively low in omega 6 and high in omega 9. The latter is known as oleic acid and can be produced by the cat’s body too. The oil contains some omega 3 also. It also contains vitamins like A, E, C and B1, B2 and B6. It is a strong antioxidant oil.
Olive oil is a balanced oil. It contains monounsaturated fats that are able to break down fat stored in cells. A bit of Olive oil every now and then can help your cat maintain an optimal weight. Obese cats (and dogs) can suffer from cardiovascular problems.
The benefits of using Olive oil for hairballs in cats:
- Promote easier hairball elimination or formation.
- Improve the aspect of the fur coat.
- Promote a more nourished and hydrated skin.
- Protect from fleas.
- Reduce irritation in the stomach and esophagus.
- Promote a better digestion and act as a natural stool softener.
Can cats have Olive oil? Now you know they can. It’s useful and beneficial, as long as moderate amounts are used. Remember that a few drops for a small cat can equal a few teaspoons for humans!
Can cats have Canola oil?
Olive oil is good for your cat, but regular vegetable oil is also good.
How about other oils? For example, can cats have Canola oil? Canola oil is a great source of omega 3 (ALA – alpha linoleic acid). This is one of the essential fatty acids that the body can’t produce. It is also very high in erucic acid.
As a side note, if you plan on using it for yourself, look for Canola oil with maximum of 2% erucic acid (FDA regulated). Raw canola is known to suppress the function of the thyroid gland.
As far as the question “can cats have Canola vegetable oil” goes, I’d say you need the opinion of a vet first. While the Omega 3 is important in the diet of a cat, there are other disadvantages that should not be ignored.
Is Coconut oil safe for cats to eat?
One study revealed that linoleate (linoleic acid derivative) is an essential fatty acid for cats. If they’re deficient in linoleate, cats can suffer from various problems:
- Degeneration of the testes,
- Excess fat deposits in the kidneys,
- Skin hyperkeratosis (skin thickening),
- Inflammatory skin lesions,
- Dull and lifeless fur,
When the cats were fed Safflower seed oil and Coconut oil, that deficiency was corrected. Too much linoleate can cause the development of fatty liver in cats. These results tell us that feeding your cat Coconut oil occasionally could do her good.
So, is Coconut oil safe for cats to eat? It appears it is safe only when needed and in very small amounts. To get the amount and time of treatment right, you should talk to a veterinarian.
Another study revealed that cats have an aversion to dietary Coconut oil. When cats were fed Coconut fat, they refused to eat it and lost weight. The results improved only slightly when they got a bit of Safflower oil mixed with Coconut.
This tells us that your cat will probably refuse to eat a meal with Coconut oil. You should never force her to eat something she doesn’t like.
What about using essential oils on cats? Which essential oils are toxic to cats?
Essential oils are entirely volatile. This means they evaporate into the air fast and get inside the body just as fast. Because cats have that missing liver enzyme, they can’t metabolize certain chemical constituents.
Essential oils high in phenols are usually the most dangerous to their health. Read the following article for more details about Aromatherapy on cats:
If you want to know which essential oils are toxic to cats, here’s a short list. You can find a more complete list, in the above mentioned article.
- Tea Tree
Although they’re not able to properly metabolize these constituents, cats will still find a way to eliminate them. It’ll just take a longer time.
On a long-term, this can lead to some major health problems. Make sure to check with the vet for any Aromatherapy-related questions, if there’s any doubt about it.
Can Cats Eat Olive Oil? Pros & Cons and Uses
It’s not hard to see that Olive oil is at least a good hairball home remedy for your cat. You’ve also seen why and what it can do. Now, I thought of putting all the oil’s benefits and side effects in one single section. That way, when in need, you’ll be able to find it all faster.
Pros (Benefits) of Using Olive Oil on Cats
There’s no surprise that Olive oil can do a lot of good, internally and externally. Studies back up its health and beauty benefits.
It’s true that our furry cat friends have a different development and metabolism. For that, special care must be employed. However, in small doses and on occasions, Olive oil is safe for cats. Cats can eat Olive oil and:
- Expel hairballs easier.
- Prevent the formation of new ones.
- Improve their digestion and get rid of constipation.
- Have a shiny fur.
- Improve dry skin, inflammation and irritation.
- Deal with less fleas.
- Have cleaner ears.
- Get protection from free radicals damage.
- Have a stronger immune system because of
- Isoprenoids can also improve a cat’s mood (the high effect).
Cons (Side Effects) of Olive Oil Overdose in Cats
The best thing about your cat eating Olive oil is that there are no significant side effects, nor toxicity. On a long-term, the oil may buildup in the liver.
That happens when the kitty is not given enough time to properly digest the oil. She also needs enough time to eliminate the unused compounds.
What do you give a cat for constipation? You give her Olive oil. But be careful with the amount, because too much can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea leads to dehydration and other complications. If this should happen, you’ll need to take the cat to the vet.
Too much Olive oil or olives can also lead to gaining weight as they are very high in calories.
Some cat foods already contain small amounts of Olive oil, so read the labels carefully. You don’t want to add more and give the kitty more problems to deal with.
How to Use Olive Oil for Cats
Olive oil makes a good cat hairball home remedy. It also makes a good constipation remedy.
The dose is very important in all situations. A larger dose of Olive oil (more than 1 teaspoon a day) can cause severe diarrhea. Cats are small and a few drops are usually a lot for them.
Some veterinarians recommend no more than half a tsp. or a tsp. (5 – 10 drops) a day. Once the cat has eliminated the stool, you should stop giving her the oil.
If the cat gets constipated too often, you should take her to the vet as soon as possible. It may be the cause of a different underlying cause. Olive oil is one of the best cat hairball remedies, but it’s only a temporary remedy.
Another way to use Olive oil for your cat’s well-being is to clean her ears with it. I don’t recommend pouring it inside the ears, though.
That should be done only with the vet’s approval. The rest of the ear however, can be cleaned with a bit of warm Olive oil. Use a cotton pad to wipe off the oil and dirt.
Every now and then, you could also run your fingers with Olive oil through their fur and skin. Leave it like that for a few minutes (15-20 minutes at least) and then wash the cat with a mild special soap/shampoo.
Olive oil, used like that should also repel fleas. Naturally, Olive oil can also be used for the dry skin of cats. Basically, it’ll simply make the cat look very nicely groomed. Don’t forget to brush her fur daily, to prevent hairballs formation.
Can cats have Olive oil? Is Olive oil safe for cats? These are questions that you now have the answer for. This knowledge will help you give your kitty the best care and treatment available. Don’t forget to keep in touch with the vet and ask his opinion on any new treatment or change of diet.
In small doses and on occasions, cats can eat Olive oil and feel very good. Let’s not forget the “high” experience it gives to most kitties. Have you ever noticed this kind of behavior in your cat? Did you try using Olive oil on her?