Fats and oils are concentrated energy sources that provide essential nutrients and vitamins like D and E. Including small amounts of flax oil in your cat's diet is an effective means of including essential fatty acids such as omega-3, omega-6 and arachidonic acids in your feline's food.
What Is Flax Oil?
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Flax oil is derived from the flax plant, an annual flowering plant originating in the Mediterranean and India. The oil's essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are thought to lower cholesterol, fight inflammation, reduce heart disease risk, combat hypertension, treat skin disorders and irritations, promote healthy hair and nails -- or fur and claws -- and reduce some cancer risks. With such seemingly endless benefits, flax oil is ostensibly a wise addition to anyone's diet, feline or non-feline.
A Good Cat Diet
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As an obligate carnivore, a cat should have a diet of mostly animal protein -- specifically, about 80 percent animal protein and 20 percent fat. Cats can metabolize small amounts of carbohydrates, but carbs are unnecessary for good cat nutrition. This means most of his diet will consist of meats: poultry, fish and more. Of course, cat owner's know a cat's can feast on something one day and refuse it the next, so you'll likely want mix up the offerings.
How Much Flax Oil Can I Give Him?
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Your cat's calorie needs depends on weight, age and more, so first determine his daily caloric requirement. An eight-pound cat needs around 250 calories per day, with 80 percent -- or 200 calories -- from meat. The remaining 20 percent leaves 50 calories. With oils, that's almost a half-tablespoon. Like all oils, flax oil is all fat. Therefore, it should count against the 20-percent-fat requirement. Other fats may include those found within all the delicious meats you serve him.
How to Include Flax Oil in Your Cat's Diet
Cats are finicky, so introducing flax oil may offer a challenge. Start by letting him lick some off your finger, or offer a couple drops on an empty plate. This will help you determine if he likes the flavor by itself. If that doesn't do the trick, put a drop on a piece of favorite food. You can also add a drop or two to his regular food or treats. In time, hopefully he will get accustomed to the flavor and you may gradually increase the amount. Watch for signs he's not adapting. These may include diarrhea -- a common side effect from too much flax -- vomiting, gas, bloating and decreased appetite. Over time, you'll get a sense of whether your kitty and flax are friends or foes.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Fish Oil for Cats: Flax Seed Oil for Cats
- Herb Information, Benefits, Discussion and News: Flaxseed Oil Benefits and Information
- Wigglesworth Fibres: The Flax Plant
- "Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats"; Kymythy R. Schultze
- "Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets"; Donald R. Strombeck
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.