Can Cats Eat Coconut? The Truth Behind The Mouth-Watering Treat!
Coconut, while delicious, can cause some culinary confusion. Technically a fruit, a nut, and a seed all at once, the coconut is harvested from trees and processed into different food products including coconut meat, coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut oil.
The variety can be overwhelming even when you're just feeding yourself, let alone when you're trying to decide whether to share a tropical treat with your feline friend. So, can cats eat coconut? Which of the many kinds of coconut concoctions, if any, are safe for cats to consume?
Can cats eat coconut meat?
In broad strokes, coconut is not poisonous to cats, but it can be unhealthy for them. If your cat wanders up when you're snacking on some shredded coconut meat—the white, fleshy part of the coconut—indulging the kitty's curiosity with a small taste probably won't do any harm.
Many cats seem to like the flavor of coconut, so your furry friend may well be grateful. Keep in mind, though, that the oil in the coconut could upset your cat's digestive system and cause diarrhea, rewarding your generosity with a nasty mess to clean up later.
On the other hand, letting your cat have more than an occasional taste could cause more serious health problems. Coconut is a high-fat food, and too much fat in your cat's diet can lead to difficult-to-treat and potentially fatal diseases such as pancreatitis and hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.
As with so many things, moderation is key. And, as the video below shows, some cats really like the taste of coconut.
Can cats drink coconut milk?
Coconut milk is made by soaking shredded coconut meat in water and then straining it out. In human cuisine it is sometimes used as a substitute for cow milk, so if you already know that cats lack the enzymes necessary for breaking down lactose and should not consume dairy, you may be wondering whether offering your kitty a saucer full of coconut milk could be a health-conscious way to revitalize the old cliche.
Unfortunately, since coconut milk is made from coconut meat, it also contains high amounts of fat. The same rules apply here as with solid coconut: you can give your cat a little now and then so long as the risk of diarrhea doesn't bother you too much, but overdoing it could seriously damage your cat's health.
What would lead a person to thinking that coconut milk is safe for cats? For one, it is a dairy-free milk alternative, and we all know that cats like dogs are lactose intolerant. From that view point, coco milk would seem like the perfect fit. Secondly, coconut has high nutritional value for us, humans. Apart from being high caloric, it also contains high amounts of lauric acid.
Lauric acid not only gives us energy but also boasts antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is also capable of decreasing our blood pressure and cholesterol levels plus also helps with the magnesium absorption rate in our bodies which decreases the tension in our body's muscles. Knowing such benefits, any person would eventually wonder if the same is true with their furry friend.
Cats Cannot Digest Coconut Milk
Felines are obligate carnivores, meaning that they get every nutrient they need from meat and that they don't possess the enzymes needed to digest anything else.
Kittens on the other hand can survive on milk in their early days, however as they age, they will eventually lose the enzyme needed to digest lactose.
Coconut milk may be lactose free but do note that it is high in fats and oils which a cat's digestive system cannot handle. Furthermore, coco milk is a plant based protein; felines are not able to digest this as well.
Can cats drink coconut water?
Coconut water is a liquid found inside green, unripe coconuts. Unlike other coconut products, it does not contain much fat. What it does contain is high amounts of potassium. For humans, this is considered one of the benefits of the drink, since potassium can help lower blood pressure.
The amount of potassium in coconut water can be too much for cats and may cause hyperkalemia, a toxic excess of the mineral that acidifies your cat's blood and impacts the function of the heart. For this reason, the ASPCA advises not to give your pets coconut water.
Disadvantages of Drinking Coco Milk in Cats
Felines that drink coconut milk on a regular basis are at a risk of obesity. In cats, obesity has been linked to several negative health effects which includes:
- Liver disease
- Lameness and arthritis
- Skin problems
- Decreased quality and length of life
Also, coconut milk has a laxative effect on your furry friend thus causing loose stools, which is very uncomfortable for them and a mess for you. Beyond that, it will lead to dehydration and worse case scenario, your beloved pet will suffer more serious illnesses even death.
What Should Cats Drink?
Fresh Water. Water is vital in every cat's diet. It assists in digestion of the nutrients from their food. This is the best beverage for your loyal companion.
Is coconut oil good for cats?
Some humans use oil extracted from coconuts in home remedies, and holistic veterinarians argue that coconut oil can also be healthy for cats. Applied externally, coconut oil can treat skin conditions such as dermatitis. It can also be fed to cats as a treatment for such varied ailments as hairballs, arthritis, stomach problems, and bad breath.
In spite of its possible benefits, giving coconut oil to your cat comes with the same health risks as giving them coconut meat or coconut milk: it may cause upset stomach and diarrhea, and its high fat content makes it dangerous in excess. Even proponents of coconut oil for cats as a regular health supplement advise starting slowly and being careful not to overdo it.
Just keep in mind that if your cat is having health issues you think coconut oil might help with, you should check with your veterinarian before trying to treat the problem on your own.
Has your cat had too much coconut?
By now, you have probably noticed a pattern: most forms of coconut are safe for cats to eat as long as they don't eat too much. But how much is too much?
If you're worried that your cat may have consumed more than a safe amount of coconut or other high-fat foods, learn the symptoms of pancreatitis and fatty liver disease so that you can be on the lookout.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that produces enzymes needed for digestion. Symptoms include lethargy, low body temperature, a mass in your cat's abdomen, and jaundice—a yellowing of the skin, eyes or mouth.
A particularly common and noticeable symptom is loss of appetite. If your cat suddenly refuses to eat for an entire day, you should immediately seek the advice of a veterinarian, just to be safe.
Fatty liver disease occurs when fats build up in the liver faster than it can break them down, damaging the organ's ability to perform its many vital functions. It is usually a complication of some other underlying condition, pancreatitis being one possible cause.
Some of its symptoms overlap with those of pancreatitis, including loss of appetite and jaundice. Other symptoms include rapid weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and drooling.
Both diseases have other possible causes beyond excessively fatty diets. For example, pancreatitis can result from physical trauma or parasitic infection, and fatty liver disease can be a complication of diabetes or cancer. Even if you keep your cat on a lean diet, it couldn't hurt to know the symptoms so you can take your cat to the vet if you spot them.
To sum it all up, can cats eat coconut? Yes, in moderation.
While we tend to treat our beloved pets like babies, their diet is one area that we should not alter. They need a steady sustenance of fresh water and meat.
Coconut meat, coconut milk, and coconut oil are safe for cats in moderation, although they may cause minor digestive problems such as diarrhea. However, they are all high in fat, so overfeeding them may lead to your cat developing serious diseases.
Coconut oil may have therapeutic qualities for cats, but exercise caution when using it as a home remedy. If you are worried about your cat's fat intake, know the symptoms of pancreatitis and fatty liver disease and be on the lookout. You should not give your cat coconut water to drink, as it contains too much potassium.
Can cats eat coconuts?
They love the fruit's mildly sweet and creamy taste, so feel free to give your cat some coconut in moderation. Coconut flesh is too tough for most cats to eat unless it's shredded. If your cat likes the taste of coconut but can't eat shredded coconut, they can still enjoy the taste in other ways!
Is coconut safe for cats?
Small amounts of coconut and coconut-based products should not cause serious harm to pets. However, the flesh and milk of fresh coconuts contain oils, which can cause diarrhea, loose stools and stomach upsets. Because the high level of potassium in coconut water, pets should not consume this either.
Can cats eat coconut ice cream?
Coconut cream is basically the same as coconut milk but has less water to give it a thicker consistency. So, no, it's not good to give your cats coconut ice cream.
Can cats eat coconut yogurt?
If your cat still doesn't seem to tolerate yogurt made from cow's milk well, unsweetened yogurt made from coconut milk is a great way for your cat to get probiotics and calcium, though it lacks the protein of its cow counterpart.