Sesame oil is a popular ingredient used in many cuisines around the world.
Known for its nutty, aromatic flavor, sesame oil can add taste and texture to dishes.
As a cat owner, you may be wondering if it’s safe for your feline friend to consume sesame oil.
Let us explore everything you need to know about cats and sesame oil.
What is Sesame Oil?
Sesame oil is extracted from sesame seeds, which come from the sesame plant. There are a few different types of sesame oil:
- Regular sesame oil – Made from raw sesame seeds and has a light yellow color and mild flavor. It’s suitable for frying and cooking.
- Toasted sesame oil – Made from toasted or roasted sesame seeds, giving it a darker color and a more robust, nutty taste. It’s used more for flavoring foods.
Both types of sesame oil contain healthy fats like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They also have compounds like vitamins E and K, phytosterols, and polyphenols which can provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Is Sesame Oil Safe for Cats?
The good news is sesame oil is not toxic for cats. So if your cat accidentally licks or ingests a small amount, it’s not poisonous.
However, sesame oil should not be a regular part of your cat’s diet. Here’s why:
- Too high in fat – Sesame oil is 100% fat, providing 120 calories per tablespoon. Too much-added fat can lead to obesity, pancreatitis, and other health issues in cats.
- May cause digestive upset – The rich, oily texture of sesame oil could irritate your cat’s stomach and cause vomiting or diarrhea if consumed in large amounts.
- Lacks key nutrients for cats – Cats require protein from animal sources, not plant-based oils. Sesame oil doesn’t provide all the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals your cat needs.
So while small amounts of sesame oil are not necessarily harmful, it doesn’t offer specific benefits for cats either. It’s best reserved as an occasional treat.
How Much Sesame Oil Can Cats Have?
There’s no standard amount of sesame oil recommended for cats. As a general guideline:
- For a small cat – Start with 1/4 teaspoon or less of sesame oil at a time.
- For a medium cat – Start with 1/2 teaspoon or less of sesame oil at a time.
- For a large cat – Start with 3/4 teaspoon or less of sesame oil at a time.
Only give sesame oil to your cat 1-2 times per week at most. More frequently could lead to digestive issues or weight gain. Make sure to adjust your cat’s regular meals on days you give sesame oil to compensate for the extra calories.
It’s also best to consult your veterinarian before introducing any new food or supplement to your cat’s diet. They can provide tailored advice based on your cat’s health, age, and weight.
How to Give Sesame Oil to Cats
When first giving your cat sesame oil, follow these tips:
- Start with a small amount – Just a few drops or licks at first to see how your cat reacts.
- Mix into food – Stir a few drops or teaspoons into your cat’s regular wet or dry food.
- Use sparingly – Drizzle lightly over food rather than saturating it in oil.
- Supervise – Watch your cat closely when first trying sesame oil.
- Avoid giving on an empty stomach – Feed the oil with food to reduce stomach upset.
- Stop at signs of distress – If your cat vomits, has diarrhea, or refuses the food, do not give any more sesame oil.
By introducing sesame oil gradually and carefully, you can minimize the chances of adverse effects.
What If a Cat Eats Too Much Sesame Oil?
If your cat accidentally consumes a large amount of sesame oil, here’s what you may observe and how to respond:
- Vomiting or diarrhea – Withhold food for a few hours then reintroduce small meals of their regular food. Call your vet if symptoms don’t improve.
- Dehydration – Offer fresh water frequently and switch to wet food. Seek vet care if dehydration seems severe.
- Lethargy – This can be a sign your cat isn’t getting proper nutrition. Consult your vet.
- Small amounts of blood in vomit/stool – Sesame oil irritation can cause minor bleeding. It should resolve on its own but warrant a vet visit if bleeding is excessive.
- Loss of appetite – Try tempting your cat with different foods and flavors. See your vet if your appetite doesn’t return after a day or two.
- Pancreatitis – This potentially serious inflammation of the pancreas can happen with high-fat intake. Visit your vet immediately if your cat shows symptoms like vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy, or loss of appetite.
While sesame oil isn’t directly toxic to cats, gorging on it can cause dangerous health issues. It’s best to limit your cat’s sesame oil intake and see the vet if concerning symptoms develop after ingesting it.
Can cats have toasted sesame oil?
Yes, both regular and toasted sesame oil are safe for cats in small amounts. Toasted sesame oil has a stronger flavor and aroma. Both types contain the same healthy fats.
Is sesame oil good for a cat’s skin and fur?
The fatty acids and antioxidant content in sesame oil may offer some skin/coat benefits. But more research is needed. Don’t apply sesame oil topically without your vet’s guidance.
Can kittens have sesame oil?
Kittens under 12 weeks old should not have sesame oil. Their digestive systems are too immature to handle fats and oils well. Older kittens can have small amounts but consult your vet first.
Can cats eat sesame seeds or tahini?
Whole sesame seeds are not recommended as they can pose a choking risk. Ground sesame seeds like tahini spread are safer but still high in fat. Only feed small amounts occasionally.
Are sesame oil fumes harmful to cats?
Inhalation of sesame oil aromas or vapors is not dangerous to cats. But avoid diffusing or exposing your cat to any essential oil without veterinary approval, as some can be toxic.
While sesame oil makes for a tasty addition to human recipes, it does not provide specific health benefits to cats and too much can cause issues. Use caution when giving your cat sesame oil. Introduce it slowly, offer conservative amounts, and supervise your cat closely afterward.
Talk to your vet before supplementing sesame oil or anything new into your cat’s diet. With prudence and moderation, sesame oil can be an occasional treat. But always put your cat’s nutritional needs first and avoid anything that causes distress.