We always say that human foods should never be given to our pets,
especially our feline friends. The way their digestive systems are
designed by nature is simply not compatible with the food that we
human species are accustomed to digesting. But there are human foods
that are not only edible for cats and dogs alike, but are also deemed
beneficial for their optimum health and the management of a number of
health concerns. One of these human foods is olive oil. Yes, that liquid
with the slightly greenish deep golden yellow color that you drizzle in
your Greek salad or even hear Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, or any other
celebrity chef utter as they concoct delicious, mouth-watering meals is a
highly beneficial oil for cats, too.
What’s in Olive Oil?
Olive oil has always been considered as a superfood, although some
would argue that it isn’t. What is clear, however, is that olive oil is not
only revered for its culinary uses, it has religious significance and medical
When it comes to its health-related benefits, olive oil relies on its unique
blend of unsaturated fatty acids that includes both mono- and polyunsaturated
fats. It also contains saturated fats, but they only comprise
about 14 percent of the total volume of fat in olive oil.
Almost three-quarters (73%) of the composition of olive oil are
monounsaturated fats, mostly oleic acid, an omega-9 essential fatty acid.
Olive oil also contains linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, as well as
alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid.
Oleic acid, being an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid, can help
reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood while also potentially
increasing good cholesterol. We said “potentially” because there’s still an
on-going debate whether oleic acid can provide such a benefit. What is
clear, however, is that oleic acid in olive oil can help lower blood pressure.
There is also reason to believe that it has the potential to reduce
Linoleic acid is an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid that is an
important molecule for the production of arachidonic acid which is, in
turn, important for optimum brain development together with DHA. It is
also essential in the growth and development of skeletal muscles.
Studies also reveal that arachidonic acid can help improve the sensitivity
of insulin which can be beneficial in cats that are prone to diabetes.
Olive oil also contains trace amounts of squalene, sterols, and
phytosterols that can produce a number of health benefits as well.
In addition to these fats, olive oil also contains tyrosol esters,
oleocanthal, oleuropein, and hydroxytyrosol. There are more than 30
phenolic compounds present in olive oil, too. These can include elenolic
acid, flavonoids, pinoresinol, and lignans. Phenolics possess amazing
antioxidant properties which can help improve immune system
functioning, better nerve impulse conduction, and healthier skin and
Olive oil also contains vitamin E and vitamin K. Everyone knows the role
of vitamin E as a powerful antioxidant. What many don’t realize is that it
is also important in the control of gene expression, a critical element to
effective cell signaling. What this simply means is that vitamin E can help
in the creation of healthier cells.
For its part, vitamin K is critical for the ability of blood to coagulate. One
very important use of vitamin K is in the binding of calcium especially in
bones. What this simply means is that if there is not enough vitamin K in
the cat’s body, there’s a chance that your kitty may develop
osteoporosis. It may have adequate calcium levels, but if there’s no
vitamin K to bind it to the bone, then there’s no way your kitty can have
denser and stronger bones. Sadly, this can also lead to calcification
inside the walls of arteries as well as other soft tissues.
Now that we have a fair understanding of the contents of olive oil, we
can get on with the benefits of this oil for the kitties in our lives. Do
understand, however, that olive oils that have not undergone refinement
are much better since they retain the full nutrient profile of the oil. The
more refined the olive oil is, the fewer are its beneficial nutrients. Let’s try
to look at what olive oil can bring to your beloved feline.
Promotes Healthier Feline Skin
If your kitty is bugged by dry, flaky, and itchy skin, olive oil can be very
useful. As a matter of fact, olive oil for cats dry skin is one of the more
popular indications of such an ingredient.
There are many reasons why cats can have dry and itchy skin. Allergies
can cause cats to have dry and itchy, flaky skin. This is especially true
when your cat inadvertently comes in contact with something that can
cause its skin to become irritated and inflamed. The major problem with
dry and itchy skin is the secondary bacterial infection that can ensue.
When the skin goes dry, its structural integrity is also compromised.
Miniscule cracks are present on the skin which can expose the underlying
soft tissues. These cracks can also be used by microorganisms as entry
points so they can get inside the cat’s skin and cause secondary
Even if the cat’s skin is not overly dry that it forms fissures or cracks,
irritation and itching will make the cat scratch the affected site.
Scratching is an animal’s natural way to relieve the ‘itch’, just as we do
when we itch. Unfortunately, incessant scratching can also injure the skin
which can lead to breaks or openings in the skin. These can again serve
as the entrance for microorganisms.
The application of olive oil for cats dry skin can easily address such
issues. Oleic acid can help reduce the inflammation that is inherent in
itchy skin. More importantly, it can help promote healthier skin and coat
as well. The various fatty acids contained in olive oil can help provide an
effective barrier on the skin. Plant polyphenols can also provide
antioxidant benefits that, when coupled with the Vitamin E in olive oil,
can easily spell better skin integrity.
Olive oil can be massaged onto the cat’s fur and skin usually after a bath
and before the final rinse.
Related Post: Best Cat Shampoo
Promotes Better Bowel Evacuation
Some pet parents also use olive oil for cats constipation. While it is
perfectly okay for cats to be constipated occasionally, if it is becoming
more often it can be a real problem.
Constipation in cats can be related to a cat’s hydration levels. Since
kitties don’t have a strong thirst drive, you really cannot expect them to
actively seek water to drink. The same is true with intestinal blockage.
This can be brought about by the cat’s excessive grooming tendencies
whereby it will also be ingesting its own fur and create a ball of fur right
inside its colon. Strings and other objects that your cat may have
swallowed can also be lodged in its colon.
Feline constipation can also be a sign of a growing tumor or even the
possibility of a feline megacolon. In this condition, the cat’s colon grows
to an unusual size that it can no longer push fecal matter through the
gut. This causes the stool to build-up and further solidifies as water is
continuously drawn from the stool.
Olive oil for cats constipation, while it can help facilitate the easier
passage of stool through your cat’s gut and down its rectum and anus,
doesn’t really address the problem. That is why if your kitty is
experiencing more frequent or chronic constipation, it is best to have it
checked by your veterinarian.
You can still give olive oil to help stimulate your cat’s bowel movement.
However, you should always introduce olive oil into its food a little at a
time. Some cats are not actually that tolerant when it comes to oils in
their diet. This can lead to diarrhoea. It would be best if you start with
half a teaspoon of olive oil added to your cat’s food. Check whether it
will develop diarrhea within the next 24 hours. If not, increase the dose
to a teaspoon and again check if diarrhea doesn’t occur.
The maximum amount of olive oil you can give to your kitty is a
tablespoon. You shouldn’t give more than this amount.
Facilitates the Removal of Hairballs
We mentioned above that cats have the tendency to form hairballs in
their tummies. As fastidious as they are, they can easily lick loose fur
from their coat and ingest these. Over time, these strands of fur can
accumulate inside the intestines to form a massive ball of fur.
By itself, hairballs are not really a serious concern. Unfortunately, they
can cause blockage of the intestines. This can result in constipation.
However, this is not the only issue associated with hairballs. Because
hairballs take up space in the intestines, the cat may no longer be able to
absorb many of the nutrients present in food since the hairball can
adversely affect nutrient absorption. This can lead to lethargy or
Cats with hairballs will also attempt to remove the ball by hacking or
trying to vomit it out. The hairball may not go out this way, but some of
the stomach acid may be removed. This can lead to acid problems as
well as issues in electrolyte balance. If the vomiting continues, the cat
can exhibit lack of appetite.
Adding half a teaspoon of olive oil into your pet’s food can help lubricate
the intestinal lining, allowing the hairball to be easily moved through the
gut. Again, caution should be exercised not to overdo it because of the
tendency of olive oil to upset the stomach of certain cats.
The oleic acid plus phytophenols present in olive oil can help address a
number of inflammatory conditions in cats. While chronic inflammation
can be brought about by a number of disease conditions, it is
nevertheless characterized by the same things – swelling, pain,
discomfort, redness, and elevated temperature.
Olive oil can help reduce the severity of inflammation. However, like
everything else, it doesn’t really address the root cause of the problem.
That is why if you’re looking at managing your cat’s chronic
inflammation, it is best that your kitty be checked, evaluated, and treated
by your veterinarian. This is to make sure that the problem is properly
addressed and the inflammation is managed on a more permanent basis.
Nevertheless, for symptomatic relief, olive oil can be an exceptional tool.
Cats with arthritis or even inflammatory bowel disease can benefit from a
teaspoon or so of olive oil in their diets. Inflammatory conditions of the
cat’s skin can also be managed with olive oil by simply applying modest
amounts over the affected area.
Cleanses the Ears and Kills Ear Mites, Too
If you notice your kitty to be always scratching its ears, there’s a chance
that it has ear mites. And when you look inside its ears, you may notice
coffee ground-like crumbly substances that are colored brown or dark
brown. Ear mite infestation is very common in cats, just as common as
flea infestation is in dogs. These critters feed on organic debris that can
include dead skin and dried blood and other fluids from the cat’s ear.
Mites grow and proliferate, gnawing the ear tissues and causing irritation
Ideally, you would want a cat-formulated ear cleaner. But in case you
don’t have one, you can try using a few drops of olive oil into your kitty’s
ear canal. However, it is best to tell your vet about what you are going to
do. Some vets will recommend using only specific ear cleaners that are
formulated for cats. There are also those who can advise you to apply a
few drops of olive oil for both cleaning and killing of the ear mites.
Olive oil can provide a number of benefits for cats. However, it is best not
to overdo it as it can also bring about other health concerns.