Olive oil has become a staple in many kitchens, owing to its status as a ‘superfood’. It has some amazing antioxidant properties, makes cooked food taste good, and is all around very healthy for humans.
But what’s good for humans isn’t necessarily good for other animals, so if you cook regularly with it and you have pets, you’ve probably wondered (or worried) about their exposure to your cooking.
Cats in particular can be pretty bad about taste testing the things you cook if they get the chance! If this has happened to you, you’re probably wondering: can cats eat olive oil? Or is it time for a dash to the vet?
Short answer: cats can eat olive oil, but they should only have small amounts once in a while and it shouldn’t be a normal part of their diet.
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Do Cats Like Olive Oil?
I’ve never heard of a cat actively seeking out olive oil, but cooking food in it also doesn’t make them avoid eating that food either. It’s likely that cats are fairly neutral towards olive oil.
They won’t be drawn to it because it’s not a meat product that cats are wired to eat, but they won’t go out of their way to avoid it either because it doesn’t have much of a taste or odor that would repulse cats.
Do Cats Hate Olive Oil?
There’s nothing in olive oil that makes cats hate it any more than there’s anything in it that makes them love it. Some cats would certainly not want to have it straight out of the bottle (texture), but they probably won’t care if it’s used to cook chicken or other meat.
They won’t actively seek it out though – it’s the meat or whatever was cooked in the olive oil that most cats are probably going for.
Will Eating Olive Oil Kill My Cat?
Olive oil is totally nontoxic to cats – they would have to eat a lot of it to get so horribly ill as to be at risk of dying!
Olive oil is also high in fat and while it’s more or less a good fat, it’s still a fat that cats don’t really need to have too much of in their diet. Olive oil can also cause cats to get diarrhea since it does act as a laxative.
On the other hand, olive oil does have some benefits when used in small amounts once in a while and assuming your cat can tolerate it. If your cat snuck some olive oil, just monitor them for a few days afterward and make sure that they don’t get much worse than a gross litter box.
If your cat does have an unexpected reaction to olive oil, discontinue use and talk to your vet. Some cats may well be allergic to it and this can manifest as itching, sneezing, lethargy, temporary loss of appetite, and dry skin. Supervise your cat the first time it has olive oil to make sure it doesn’t have a negative reaction.
How Much Olive Oil Can I Feed My Cat?
Cats shouldn’t eat too much olive oil since they can’t process it anyway. Cooking their chicken treat in a bit of olive oil is safe enough, but if you are trying to feed it to them directly, it should be no more than a couple of drops and that, only once in a while (Every few days for conditioning).
It’s best mixed into their usual food rather than fed directly as most cats probably won’t care for the flavor or the texture.
It’s also important to ensure that you are feeding your cat the right olive oil. There’s a lot of fake olive oil on the market, which is harmless enough to humans, but it rather negates the point of giving to cats since they don’t have the same health benefits.
You want to buy cold-pressed, extra virgin olive with the origin listed right on the bottle. That way, you can be sure you’re getting the real thing and your cat will benefit from it.
The Benefits of Olive Oil for Cats
Cats shouldn’t have too much olive oil, but a small amount occasionally can bring some good benefits. These include:
- Antioxidants, primarily vitamin E, Chlorophyll, and polyphenols help a cat’s immune system
- Monosaturated fats raise a cat’s metabolism (and yours too!) and can help stave off some of the effects of aging
- Weight-loss aid due to the monosaturated fats that help the cat burn calories better
- A laxative effect can be helpful for cats with constipation, though be very careful with it as you don’t want to turn their poop into diarrhea either!
- Supporting muscle function
- Moisturizing for skin and fur
- Helps get rid of hairballs
Some people also say that olive oil drives out ear mites, but it’s important to talk to your vet about that one as the application has to be done carefully and directly in the ear which can cause a lot of discomfort and annoy your cat.
The main benefits are the antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, and the conditioning of the skin and fur. Cats don’t need to eat very much olive oil to reap these benefits, so don’t overdo it.
We wouldn’t think of olive oil as something that is a superfood for cats and while it isn’t as good for cats as it is for humans, it does have its benefits. But it’s also important to make sure you don’t overdo it or else your cat may end up with diarrhea or simply not feeling very well.
Too much olive oil over too long a time can also cause your cat to gain weight, not lose it, (after all, it’s still a fatty oil), which leads to problems with things like joint pain and diabetes later in life.
Moderation is very important when letting a cat eat something like olive oil. Also, keep in mind that many cat foods do have olive oil (or fish oil) in them, so if you add more on top of that, you could end up doing more harm than good. Check your cat food ingredients to see what is in them before you go topping it up.
Does your cat like to eat olive oil? Do you let your cat have it regularly or does your cat avoid it? I’ve never tried it on my cat – I suspect she would turn her nose up at it since she’s a little picky!
Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.