Just because something is natural, does not make it safe. As with food, it’s best to read the labels of any supplements you give your cat due to irritants and possible toxins. Many supplements and herbal remedies contain artificial sweeteners and additives that are widely documented as irritants to the human GI tract. These can be especially damaging to someone who has any gastric disorder such as celiac disease, crohn’s disease, ulcers and pancreatitis just to name a few. So you can imagine the damage it can do to a cat’s already irritated and diseased GI tract and even those that aren’t yet sick. It’s just good parenting to avoid these additives altogether and there are plenty of natural treatments that are offer a “clean” product. Even so, always check with your vet and make sure that the human supplement or product you’re giving your cat isn’t going to be toxic or cause further, irreversible damage to your cat. Be sure to always read both the active ingredients on a label and the inactive ingredients as well.
Coconut and Coconut Oil
When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.
Essential fatty acid requirements of cats: pathology of essential fatty acid deficiency
Aversion of the cat to dietary medium-chain triglycerides and caprylic acid
Coconut Oil and Cats
MCTs (medium chain tryglicerides) may be a contributing factor to hepatic lipidosis, a life-threatening liver disease. This could be due to a number of reasons. It is possible that MCTs actually harm the liver. Or, it could be that it makes the food taste so nasty that cats won’t eat it… and poor or no appetite is the primary cause of hepatic lipidosis. Clearly, either scenario is bad news for kitties.
(In dogs, MCTs can cause pancreatitis, so don’t be tempted to give it to them either!)
Is Coconut Oil Useful for Dogs?
Citrus fruits and oils of any kind can cause severe vomiting and GI distress. d-Limonene and linalool are citrus oils with insecticidal properties. These are metabolized in the liver resulting in liver damage or failure. If ingested, citrus oils and any essential oils in full strength form, can cause liver or kidney failure. If they’re inhaled they can even cause neurological disorders and brain damage. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. If the product also contains piperonyl butoxide, the toxic effects of citrus oil extracts may be increased. Never treat your cats with dog products, the result may be fatal.
Cosequin, (not toxic or dangerous), which is widely used for arthritis and joint pain in animals, can occasionally cause stomach upset and GI distress in cats with any form of GI issues. This does not happen with all cats and is still perfectly safe to use.
Essential Oils – Beware of using ANY product marketed for cats with essential oils and especially tea tree oils. They are toxic and not at all safe! Tea tree oil (melaleuca, melaleuca alternifolia) is a phenol-containing essential oil. Its active ingredients are cyclic terpenes which have a similar structure and action to turpentine (paint thinner). Cats are uniquely sensitive to phenolics and other benzene-based compounds. Benzyl alcohol (a preservative) is toxic to cats. Products being marketed with Tea Tree Oil such as shampoos, flea treatments, soaps, etc. are not safe to use, regardless of the company’s claim that it is. Essential oils which contain phenols are particularly toxic to cats and cause liver damage. These include oregano, thyme, eucalyptus, clove, cinnamon, bay leaf, parsley and savory. Essential oils which contain ketones can cause neurological symptoms. These include: cedar leaf*, sage*, hyssop*, cyprus*, lavender, eucalyptus, mint, caraway*, citronella, clove*, ginger*, camphor, chamomile, thyme and rosemary (those marked * give particular cause for concern). Please read further to see how tea tree oil is toxic. For more information on the dangers of essential oils please go to the following websites:
Danger for Cats: Essential Oils
Camphor Toxicity in Cats
Oils Poisonous to Cats
Essential Oils and Cats: A Potentially Toxic Mix
Essential Oils for Pets – Medicine or Toxin?
Essential Oil Safety With Cats
Essential Oil Knowledge for Cat Owners
Animal Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Safety
Tea Tree oil is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and skin. In addition, cats have relatively thin, delicate skin and tea tree oil is highly lipophilic (attracted to fats, solvent). This means that the oil is absorbed rapidly and enters the bloodstream. Cats are notoriously sensitive to toxins because their livers are not able to metabolize many substances which may safely be used on dogs (cats have been poisoned through use of dog flea preparations). For this reason, a substance shown to be beneficial and safe for humans may be unsuitable for use on cats. Cats cannot efficiently metabolize substances present in certain essential oils (including tea tree oil). This means that they are not efficiently excreted by the body and can accumulate in soft tissues and vital organs. Over time, the substances can reach toxic levels and can cause symptoms of poisoning or even death. An owner could use tea tree oil in what’s supposed to be safe, low concentrations for some time with no symptoms, though the cat is being slowly poisoned as the toxins accumulate. This is similar to the way that heavy metals (e.g. lead, zinc) or poly-chlorinated bi-phenols (PCBs) accumulate in the soft tissues and organs.
TEA TREE OIL – TOXIC TO CATS
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil Toxicity in Dogs and Cats
HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES should not be used without working with a licensed homeopath. Homeopathy does not work like other remedies in that you don’t take it to “relieve a symptom”. Homeopathy works on a deeper level to correct an imbalance in the system, whichever system is involved, and it may take more than one remedy to correct a problem. Homeopathy is usually done in the classical tradition, which is one remedy at a time and only one dose, then you wait to see how it works. Most websites sell homeopathic combination remedies that may or may not be appropriate and may or may not work. ALWAYS read the instructions, cautions and comments on any product before using! Make sure not of these therapies contain alcohol as a stabilizer. Many places will claim you can burn the alcohol off but there is no way to know if that’s actually happening and if you’ve gotten it all. Alcohol is damaging to their fragile livers. Even though your cat may not have a reaction in the immediate future, they do not filter these chemicals and it can and does build up in the liver. To learn more about homeopathic remedies see “The Society of Homeopaths”. http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/
HERBS should always be researched before giving to your pet regardless of whether the product label or website states they’re safe. For instance, goldenseal should only be given for up to 7 days, then given appropriate time off before starting again if needed. Goldenseal can cause liver damage if given for an extended amount of time both in people and in pets, but especially in cats! Cats tend to have several side effects with goldenseal such excessive production of bile, vomiting, salivation, foaming at the mouth and lowered blood sugar. So no matter what the label says about giving it consistently and indefinitely, you should NEVER do this. A wonderful book I use to always check is “Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life”. ALWAYS read the instructions, cautions and comments on any product before using! And again, you should work with a holistic vet for proper guidance on what your pet needs.
Flaxseed Oil, although not toxic, is not able to be converted in a cat’s system: Flaxseed oil is of limited nutritional value to cats. There are two essential fatty acids for cats, linoleic and arachidonic (both are Omega 6 fatty acids). These fatty acids are essential in the sense that a cat cannot produce them within the body, so must obtain them through diet. Flax seed oil contains around 13% linoleic acid but no arachidonic acid. Cats do not have the pathways to convert linoleic acid into arachidonic acid, so another source of arachidonic acid is necessary. Cats can only obtain arachidonic acid from animal products, so if you want to give your cat an essential fatty acids oil, consider a fish-based oil instead.
Flower Essences – alcohol based holistic products such a flower essences contain a high amount of ethanol, which is toxic to pets. Some state you can open the bottle and immerse it in hot water to burn off the alcohol but the reality is we don’t know how much that really works. Alcohol is toxic to pets and their livers can and do accumulate toxins. Unlike humans they cannot filter these chemicals. Don’t risk it. Even a small amount over and over can and does build up. There are plenty of companies that produce and sell products like flower essences and other things without toxic ingredients like alcohol. This one in particular is my favorite. They do not use alcohol as a base and I know many people who have used it and love them! They say their cats have reacted very well and these products work.
The Animal Wellness Collection from Green Hope Farm
You can also use these collars that contain very safe herbs and no essential oils:
http://www.calmingcollars.com/. If you order the collars, use coupon code IBDKITTIES for 10% off.