What Are the Benefits for Felines of Using Flaxseed Oil?

By Marion Sipe

Omega-3 fatty acids have several benefits for cats and dogs alike. Holistic, and even mainstream, veterinarians often recommend using such supplements because many pet foods on the market do not provide for an animal's complete dietary needs. While some cats get along just fine on these foods, others may develop dull, dry coats or even a condition known as pica which leads them to chewing, sucking and sometimes eating non-food objects such as plants, electrical cords, fabrics, yarn or paper. Flaxseed oil is one source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to the production of anti-inflammatories which confer a lot of benefits to humans and animals alike. A daily supplement can help your cat lead a healthier life.

Healthy Coats

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the oils that helps keep your cat's skin moisturized and its coat shiny. While it serves other purposes, your cat's coat is the first sign of its nutritional health. If the coat is not healthy, it's often because the animal is not getting the nutrients it needs. Fur can become wiry, dry and dull when a cat is sick, not eating, or not receiving the right balance of nutrients. This can also lead to dry, irritated skin and to dandruff, which becomes an airborne allergen when left untreated. In addition, if the natural oils of a cat's coat are depleted, it reduces the lipid barrier in the skin, which cats use to protect them from infection. One or two tablespoons of flaxseed oil mixed into your cat's daily feedings will help with this problem.

Healthy Joints

Because fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties---the same properties which make them usual in fighting skin irritations---they also produce some relief in arthritic dogs and cats, so flaxseed oil can help relieve minor joint pain from mild arthritis or joint stiffness due to injury. However, if your cat suffers from more severe arthritis, the benefits of flaxseed oil will probably fall short of being enough. However, a supplement of flaxseed oil can offer relief to a cat's suffering from minor or occasional joint pain and in some animals may improve mobility.

Healthy Kidneys

Omega-3s also increase the production of other anti-inflammatories and these can help in reducing inflammation of kidneys. It also helps support healthy kidneys by increasing the blood flow to the organs. Also, since these fatty acids support a healthy level of blood lipids in cats, those suffering from kidney disease produce elevated levels of triglycerides, helping to prolong the animal's life.

Flaxseed Oil vs. Fish Oil

Flaxseed oil does indeed contain omega-3 fatty acids; however, because cats are designed to be carnivorous they have more trouble converting the plant-based flaxseed oil than they would a supplement that came from a meat source, such as fish oil. Only about 10 percent of the flaxseed oil you give your cat will be converted to storable fatty acids, while a larger percentage of a fish oil supplement can be converted by the feline body. Flaxseed oil is beneficial, but requires a larger dosage and longer to build up in the cat's system. Fish oils are more efficient for cats.