Is CBD safe for cats? Everything you need to know
As cat owners, there’s nothing more worrisome than watching our fluffy feline friends suffer from aches, pains, and unwanted health problems.
And while our veterinarians are usually the ones we turn to first for health advice, we’re often given a bag of prescription medications that cause an array of unwanted side effects. So what gives?
You trust your veterinarian but you wish there was a more natural, less invasive approach to certain unwanted ailments.
Well, as luck would have it, scientists, medical professionals, and even veterinarians are starting to explore some of the thought-provoking properties of Cannabidiol (CBD). And it seems our feline friends may actually benefit from these therapeutic properties as well.
But we get it… You may be a little skeptical about giving CBD to your cat, especially if you’re new to pet CBD.
So let’s take a look at what cat parents need to know about CBD for their beloved feline friends.
Will CBD oil get my cat high?
We understand that the origin of CBD can be a bit alarming for some cat parents. But it’s important to know that CBD is completely non-psychoactive [¹]. So you won’t have to worry about your feline friend thinking they’re floating through space on a slice of pizza after consuming CBD oil.
While it’s true that CBD and THC (the cannabinoid responsible for getting its users high) naturally occurs in both hemp and marijuana, there’s a huge difference in how much THC occurs in these two different strains of cannabis [²].
Marijuana contains significantly higher levels of THC than CBD, whereas hemp is far more rich in CBD and contains virtually no THC (0.3% to be exact) [³]. This is why hemp-derived CBD is federally legal in the United States.
And as a bonus, researchers have found that higher ratios of CBD can actually prevent the psychoactive effects of THC [¹]. That’s why our precious feline friends can still consume full spectrum CBD oil without feeling intoxicated or loopy.
Which brings us to our next question…
Can I give CBD oil to my cat?
Cats and humans both have an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) [⁴]. This was discovered within the last couple of decades, so scientists are still trying to fully understand how this remarkable system works.
What we do know is that this phenomenal biological system plays an integral role in regulating, stimulating, and maintaining your sweet feline friend’s overall health.
For example, our cat’s ECS helps balance and regulate their:
Perception of pain
Immunity and cellular health
But when there’s a disruption in our fluffy cat’s ECS—meaning that it isn’t working properly—unwanted symptoms can arise, including pain, lethargy, and more [⁵].
But it’s been suggested that reintroducing balance to the ECS may help restore stability to how the body functions.
And guess what?
There are several ways to introduce balance into your cat’s ECS:
1.First and foremost, a healthy diet.
Cats are carnivores, which means they get their nutrients primarily from animal products [⁶].
They need high amounts of protein and a reasonable amount of fat. While commercial dry cat food is usually a more popular option, it’s also the cheaper option. Opt for high quality canned cat food, which has a higher amount of protein and fat, and fewer carbohydrates.
2.Exercise your cat.
It’s not uncommon to see some owners walking their cat on a leash, but let’s face it… not all cats respond well to leash walking.
But exercise is essential for maintaining your cat’s health. Opt for a cat tower, a cat treadmill, or toys that get your cat running and moving, like lasers.
3.Cannabinoids for your cat.
There are natural cannabinoids that exist from within your cat’s body. In fact, did you know that “endo” from “endocannabinoid” means “within”?
As it turns out, consuming hemp-derived cannabinoids actually impacts your cat’s ECS in many different ways.
CBD benefits for cats
While there are only a couple of studies regarding CBD and our feline friends, most studies regarding CBD are done on other animal models.
In fact, veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter in Oakland, CA, stated that “almost anything that cannabis would be used for in a human, from a medical standpoint, has the potential to be equally as valuable in dogs or cats. Pain, inflammation, arthritis, gastro-intestinal related things, stress, anxiety, seizures, cancer, you name it. We’ve seen the benefits in all of these areas… [⁷]”
This means the studies showcasing CBD’s therapeutic properties could potentially benefit our sweet kitties.
CBD and Arthritis, IBD, and Kidney problems in cats
Dr. Casara Andre, the founder and director of Veterinary Cannabis Education and Consulting, decided to give her cat, Mattie, CBD to help address her arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and kidney issues [⁸].
Mattie’s results were astounding: “I really didn’t have any good options for her, so I tried a CBD-dominant tincture, which offered more scalability, I saw a difference, but it took about 6 weeks. I noticed small improvements in her appetite, willingness to interact, and small play attempts.”
This anecdotal evidence sounds really promising, but…
Can CBD help pain and inflammation in cats?
Pain and inflammation often go hand-in-hand. While inflammation is sometimes good for addressing injury, chronic inflammation can contribute to a lifelong battle of pain. And there’s nothing worse than seeing your sweet feline friend suffer from pain.
However, one of the most impressive and intriguing things researchers discovered about CBD is that it has a unique response to inflammation.
In a study involving Osteoarthritic dogs, researchers stated: “Dogs with OA receiving this industrial hemp extract high in CBD (2 mg/kg of CBD) were perceived to be more comfortable and active… Clinically, canine brief pain inventory and Hudson activity scores showed a significant decrease in pain and increase in activity with CBD oil [⁹].”
What’s more, no side effects were reported by the owner, veterinarian, or scientist.
This is great news, but you might also be wondering…
Can CBD help anxiety and seizures in cats?
It’s not uncommon for our feline friends to develop separation anxiety. And for some cats who suffer from seizures, anxiety could potentially increase the frequency of seizures.
But studies show that stressed-induced mice who were given CBD experienced a reduction in their stress and anxiety, which helped to improve their overall mood [¹⁰].
Other studies, involving dogs battling with intractable idiopathic epilepsy, were given CBD. According to researchers, the CBD helped reduce seizure activity [¹¹]. They also reported absolutely no unwanted side effects.
While these studies are incredibly thought-provoking, more studies are needed on cats. Nevertheless, it’s hard to ignore these positive results.
Now, with all that said…
How much CBD should I give to my cat?
The best way to dose CBD for your cat is by following the dosing recommendation found on the CBD product’s label. Reputable pet CBD companies will always have instructions displayed on their product’s label. If they don’t, you could always determine the right dose by the weight of your cat.
However, it’s always best to start with a small amount of CBD and then increase slowly over time. This will give you the opportunity to observe your feline friend for any issues with that particular CBD product.
So does this mean CBD is safe for our feline friends?
CBD side effects in cats
According to multiple studies, CBD is well tolerated among its users, and that includes our feline friends [¹²]. But it’s important to note that too much of a good thing could still cause temporary side effects.
According to the American Kennel Club, here are a few possible side effects of CBD [¹³]:
Low blood pressure
Thankfully, these side effects are rare and will fade quickly once your cat discontinues that specific CBD product.
Determining how safe CBD is for your cat boils down to the quality of your cat’s CBD oil or CBD cat treats.
CBD oil for cats: final thoughts
A reputable pet CBD company’s sole purpose should be to provide you with CBD pet products that are thoroughly tested, accurately labeled, and safely formulated for your pets to consume.
None of their products should be intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent your cat’s unwanted health problems. If you find a CBD pet company that makes medical claims about their CBD pet products, steer clear!
That said, we advise you to speak with your veterinarian before adding a new supplement, like CBD, to your pet’s daily routine. Because, in the end, it’s all about doing what’s best for your fluffy feline friend.
1.Does Cannabidiol Protect Against Adverse Psychological Effects Of THC?
2.Congressional Research Service Defining Hemp: A Fact Sheet
3.FDA: What You Need to Know About Products Containing Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD
4.Endocannabinoid System: An overview of its potential in current medical practice
5.Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered
6.Cornell Feline Health Center: Feed Your Cat
7.Claws & Effect: Cannabis Medicine for Pets
8.Today’s Veterinary Nurse: CBD for Dogs and Cats – What’s New?
9.Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs
10.An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies
11.Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
12.World Health Organization: CBD Critical Review Report