Safflower oil is derived from the seeds of the safflower plant (Carthamus tinctorius L.). This vegetable oil is an ingredient commonly found in cat food because it contains healthy fats and fatty acids, which Fluffy needs in her diet to keep her coat shiny and her skin moisturized.
Safflower oil contains polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid, a type of omega-6 fatty acid which makes up 75 percent of the oil's composition, according to Drugs.com. Linoleic acid is an important part of your kitty's diet because Fluffy's body can't produce enough of this essential fatty acid on its own, which it needs to function properly. Not only do fats, such as those contained in safflower oil, provide your feline companion with energy, but they're also needed by her body to digest and utilize certain fat-soluble vitamins, advises the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The omega-6 fatty acids contained in safflower oil have anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce skin issues caused by allergies and reduce inflammation in her joints caused by arthritis, according to the ASPCA. These acids, when combined with omega-3 fatty acids, may even assist with inflammatory kidney and intestinal issues. Fatty acids also help moisturize your feline friend's skin and coat, preventing issues such as excessive shedding and dry skin, advises the Halo Pets website. In addition to fatty acids, safflower oil is a source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin E also helps to moisturize your kitty's skin.
Safflower Oil in Diet
The feeding profiles determined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials recommend the minimum amounts of ingredients that should be included in a kitty's diet for her to stay healthy. While this list doesn't specifically list safflower oil, it does recommend that Fluffy's diet should contain a minimum of 0.5 percent linoleic acid, along with 30 IU/kg of vitamin E and 9 percent fat, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. All of these ingredients are contained in safflower oil and other vegetable oils such as sunflower and soybean oils. Any foods that follow the recommendations of the AAFCO, which is listed on the food's label, will contain these minimums and may contain safflower oil to provide them.
Before giving your feline friend any supplements containing safflower oil, consult with your vet to determine if they are necessary. While fatty acid supplements like safflower oil can help with dry skin issues or even help Fluffy pass a hairball, too much of them can be harmful. Large amounts of these supplements can cause diarrhea, obesity and even pancreatitis in some cases, warns the Halo Pets website. Your vet can examine your kitty if she's showing signs of skin issues to determine the cause, such as parasites or an underlying illness, before you simply give her any fatty acid skin supplements to treat her.
- WebMD: Safflower
- Safflower Oil: The Benefits of Safflower Oil
- The Journal of Nutrition: Role of Linoleate as an Essential Fatty Acid for the Cat Independent of Arachidonate Synthesis
- Drugs.com: Safflower
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Nutrients Your Cat Needs
- Iams: Linoleic Acid, Fatty Acids and Coat Health
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: Nutrition for the Adult Cat
- Eukanuba: Cat Nutrition and Healthy Skin and Coat
- Halo Pets: Supplements for Skin and Coat: How to Achieve a Dream Coat in Your Pet
- Pet Naturals of Vermont: Hairball
- David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images