Is cannabis oil safe for cats? And what sorts of ailments might it treat? Everyone is praising CBD oil for helping their pets with various health issues, but is CBD oil really worth the hype? Find out what a veterinarian thinks about CBD oil for cats and whether there is research to back up the claims. Our feline companions are pretty self-sufficient. In fact, sometimes our cats may even come across as moody, aloof, or skittish. It’s easy to stereotype cats into a group that has one particular type of personality. A particular orange-furred, cartoon cat that exhibits constant dominance over his owner and terror
CBD Oil for Cats: What You Need to Know
As cat owners look for ways to keep their kitties happy and healthy, they’re starting to explore alternative treatments not previously considered by Western medicine. Among these alternative treatments is cannabis oil.
This isn’t much of a surprise, considering that more people are turning to cannabis as a natural treatment for their health issues and research studies have consistently shown the plant’s positive impact on inflammation and other ailments. However, as studied as cannabis’s effect on humans may be, there have been no official major scientific studies into its impact on pets.
So, is cannabis safe for cats? And what sorts of ailments might it treat?
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabis plants contain more than 100 active compounds, but the one most often used for medicinal purposes is cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD differs from cannabis’s major active compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in that it does not have a psychoactive affect, meaning it will not get users “high.” CBD oils contain a high concentration of CBD and can be used for therapeutic purposes.
“There are not many classical medical studies that explore the effects of CBD oil in cats,” says Dr. Daniel Inman, a veterinarian at Burlington Emergency Veterinary Specialists in Williston, Vermont. “While we don’t recommend CBD oil for our patients, holistic veterinarians are using it to treat a variety of ailments, including inflammation, anxiety and pain.”
Inman is careful to specify that CBD oil is often used to subjectively increase comfort and improve quality of life in pets, not necessarily cure ailments. This type of treatment should be advised by your veterinarian and not initiated without their consent.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
Although there have been no scientific studies that specifically investigate the impact of cannabis on pets, Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian and owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, says that CBD oil is generally safe for cats. However, there can be some adverse effects to giving your cat CBD oil, including gastrointestinal upset and some sedation, both of which can be relieved by discontinuing the use of the oil.
“I think the bigger issue, from a medical perspective, is making sure that animals are dosed appropriately. This means that the CBD oil is having the affect you want it to have, and that you’re not accidentally overdosing,” he says.
Dr. Liza Guess, a clinical assistant professor at the Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, says that the lack of official, documented research into the affects of cannabis products for cats would make her hesitant to recommend them.
“I have heard that, in humans, marijuana products can be used for neuropathic pain, intractable seizures, anxiety, and appetite stimulation. I have plenty of medications in each of those categories [that are not cannabis] that have been safely used in cats for years that I am very comfortable using and understand well,” she says. “These medications have gone through rigorous studies and are approved by the FDA. Why would I want to use a poorly understood treatment that I can’t guarantee is safe or even effective?”
She adds that the FDA does not regulate the CBD products that are available on the market, so consumers can’t be sure that they’re giving their pets the dosage that they think they are.
“Pet owners looking to give their animals CBD oil should do their due diligence before purchasing anything online,” Richter says. “The marketplace is very much a ‘buyer beware’ environment, and people should be sure that the product they’re buying has been laboratory tested for both content, as well as contaminants like bacteria, fungus, and heavy metals.”
Also, it’s worth nothing that while CBD oil is typically quite safe for cats and dogs, cannabis plants are not. “There is plenty of documentation of marijuana toxicity in cats, for those that nibble on the plants,” Guess says.
Inman adds that as an ER veterinarian, he often sees marijuana toxicity in the animals that come into his practice. “You can usually tell if a pet has gotten into someone’s marijuana. And, in more severe instances, I have had to hospitalize animals until the affects have worn off.”
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Regardless of how well CBD products work for cats, there is also the issue of legality. If a cannabis product contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it’s classified as “hemp,” which is not a restricted substance. Most, if not all, CBD oil fits this description. The bigger issue is discussing this course of treatment with your veterinarian.
“In a perfect world, your veterinarian would be able to discuss this treatment as an option for your pet, but depending on where you live, your veterinarian may or may not be legally at liberty to have this conversation with you,” Richter says. “Even if you live in a state where cannabis is legal, it can be illegal for a veterinarian to tell a pet owner how to appropriately use these products.”
There are activists looking to change these laws, Richter among them.
“For example, there’s a bill being brought to the California State Legislature to debate the use of medical cannabis for animals and veterinarian involvement,” he says. “There’s a very robust conversation going on right now about it whether or not veterinarians should be able to discuss and recommend cannabis for their patients, and, if so, exactly what that looks like.”
Being able to discuss all types of treatments with your veterinarian is key, and Richter advises checking in with your vet before giving your pet any sort of cannabis. “There’s no reason to ever start giving any kind of medication or supplement without having a conversation with your veterinarian first,” he says.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
CBD has taken the pet world by storm; however, scientific research on the impacts of CBD on dogs and cats is still in its infancy—especially for cats.
Let’s look at what cat parents should consider before giving their cats CBD oil or CBD cat treats.
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s the second most common active ingredient found in the cannabis plant.
While CBD is present in all cannabis plants, it’s primarily derived from the hemp plant—which a recent study defines as, “Cannabis sativa with a total THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) less than 0.3% dry weight in leaves and buds.”
It is also important to note, that legally, a hemp plant cannot contain more than 0.3% THC or else it is considered a Schedule I controlled substance (illegal narcotic).
Unlike hemp oil and hemp seed oil, CBD is extracted from the stalks, leaves and buds—not just one part of the plant.
Has Research Been Done on CBD for Cats?
As far as I’m aware, no scientific studies have been published regarding the use of CBD with cats.
So, as is often the case, we’re left to interpret research results in dogs, people and other animals combined with anecdotal evidence to try to determine if giving CBD to cats is a good idea.
Research on CBD Use in Dogs and People
Recent studies indicate that CBD can help relieve pain and promote activity in dogs with osteoarthritis and can reduce seizure frequency in cases of severe epilepsy.
The fact that CBD has been shown to help dogs with epilepsy correlates nicely with the 2018 US Food and Drug Administration approval of the human CBD medication Epidiolex for the treatment of certain types of childhood epilepsy.
Other common uses of CBD for which there is at least some supportive scientific evidence (in people or non-feline animal models) include inflammatory conditions—like inflammatory bowel disease—as well as asthma, anxiety, pain and nausea.
So, Is CBD Safe for Cats?
Based on reports from veterinarians and pet parents, CBD itself appears, on the surface, to be very safe for cats.
Some people report that their pets become sleepy or develop upset tummies, particularly when given very high doses, but these problems resolve when CBD is discontinued or the dose is lowered.
A Word of Warning About CBD for Cats
Although CBD gets good reviews from pet parents, there is one big problem with the use of CBD in cats: an almost complete lack of regulatory oversight.
This lack of oversight has resulted in a wide availability of low-quality CBD products.
One study tested CBD products and found that many have little—if any—CBD. Or they have more CBD than is reported on the label.
Studies have also found that some CBD products contain potentially harmful contaminants.
This is especially concerning for cats because of their increased sensitivity to medications and toxins.
How to Find Safe CBD for Cats
If you choose to try CBD for your cat, here are a few ways that you can protect your pets from poor-quality CBD:
Find products that carry the Certified Seal of the U.S. Hemp Authority ™ or the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC) Quality Seal, as these meet industry-imposed standards and have passed a third-party audit.
Use only products that are designed for cats or that contain just CBD oil—and maybe a benign carrier like hemp oil, coconut oil or MCT oil.
Talk to an experienced veterinarian. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association provides a “Find a Vet” tool on its website if your veterinarian is unable to help.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
Our feline companions are pretty self-sufficient. In fact, sometimes our cats may even come across as moody, aloof, or skittish. It’s easy to stereotype cats into a group that has one particular type of personality.
A particular orange-furred, cartoon cat that exhibits constant dominance over his owner and terrorizes his yellow dog “brother” comes to mind. However, cat personalities vary greatly. In fact, a study from 2017 assessed the personalities of over 2,000 cats and developed a categorical system for feline personalities now dubbed “the feline five.”
Feline personality types can sometimes make it difficult for their human owners to understand when they aren’t feeling well. Cats that are sick or experiencing discomfort may not appear to act much different than they normally do, depending on their personality.
For instance, it isn’t uncommon for cats who aren’t very social to hide or seek out a spot under a bed to sleep, this can be their normal behavior. However, it can also be a sign they are not feeling well or have been injured. If your cat normally sleeps under a bed or hides the majority of the day, you will have to look for other indications your cat is ill to determine if there is something wrong.
If your cat is not feeling well, has been injured, or is otherwise not herself, you can look for signs.
Here are some of the most common behaviors of cats who aren’t feeling well.
- Hiding . Again, this can be hard to spot if your cat typically hides the better part of the day. Look for cues that the hiding is lasting longer than normal. For instance, a cat that doesn’t remove herself from hiding when she hears food being poured into her dish may be in discomfort or not feeling well.
- Sitting very still and hunching. If your cat is consistently in a “crouched” or hunched position, with her legs tucked neatly under her body, it could be a symptom she is experiencing some type of discomfort.
- Grooming issues. Cats who are normally meticulous groomers may stop grooming if they are ill, or over-groom to the point of self-harm like gnawing off fur or creating open sores on their skin.
- Unusual or excessive meowing. Is your normally quiet kitty suddenly meowing non-stop? This could be an indication she is in discomfort.
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea. A tell-tale sign of gastric discomfort is vomiting and diarrhea. In either case, this requires an immediate visit to her veterinarian, as she can become dehydrated very quickly.
- Restlessness. When your cat can no longer catch a cat-nap, she may be experiencing environmental stress. Environmental stress can come from many factors, and it’s important to see her veterinarian to determine the root of the behavior.
- Refusal to use her litter box . It’s understandable this will make a cat owner upset, but it is not an indication that your cat is “naughty,” it’s likely an indication she isn’t well.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, you should make an appointment to see her veterinarian right away. Her vet can help determine what’s wrong and develop a treatment plan for her.
In addition to seeing her vet, you can also look for ways to help promote your cat’s overall health and wellness, and care for her body through the use of all-natural, plant-based supplements. One supplement that carries a vast array of benefits for felines is cannabidiol, or “CBD” oil.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is one of over one hundred chemical compounds found in the leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis-sativa plant. The cannabis-sativa plant has many varieties and cannabinoid profiles with varying degrees levels of each compound, however, the variety used predominantly for CBD-focused products is an industrial hemp plant containing mostly CBD and other cannabinoids and less than 0.03% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC,” which is the compound associated with producing intoxicating effects.
CBD oil can be extracted from the hemp plant in three different ways that are available for pets.
- Isolate. CBD isolate is CBD oil that contains only cannabidiol, or CBD. No other plant parts, i.e. phytonutrients, are included in this formula. CBD isolate is inexpensive to manufacture and mass-produce, though the quality of the CBD is very low and doesn’t offer as many health benefits.
- Full-spectrum. Full-spectrum refers to the cannabinoid extract from the hemp plant containing CBD along with all other usable phytonutrients, as well as a trace amount of THC (don’t worry, it’s always less than 0.03% and does not intoxicate your animal!). This blend includes flavonoids, terpenes, other cannabinoids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins, which are vital in allowing CBD to deliver maximum benefits to your cat when administered. This benefit is often referred to as the “entourage effect,” and it refers to all portions of the hemp plant working together synergistically to provide the highest benefit level available to your animal.
- Broad-spectrum. This refers to CBD oil that has been extracted with most phytonutrients, but not THC, which makes its ability to produce the entourage effect less impactful.
When looking for a CBD oil for your cat, always seek out a full-spectrum product, like our CBD oil tincture here at VETCBD . It’s also a great idea to find a CBD oil tincture that uses a healthy fat as the carrier oil, (the oil which CBD is dissolved into to create the tincture) like organic extra virgin olive oil. Research shows that the bioavailability of CBD is higher when taken along with a healthy fat, as it helps the CBD avoid first pass metabolization in the liver.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
Because CBD oil is relatively new for approved use even in humans, studies of its effects on cats are rapidly developing. CBD oil is generally well tolerated by cats, with very few incidents of negative side effects reported. Side effects of cats who have been improperly dosed (i.e. given too much CBD oil) may have side effects like gastrointestinal upset or tiredness.
Additionally, as we mentioned earlier, full-spectrum CBD oil contains less than .03% THC so there are no possible intoxicating effects to your cat.
It is essential, however, that your CBD oil contain this trace amount of THC, so that the oil can properly deliver the entourage effect in terms of CBD benefit. Remember, that without all the necessary parts of the plant, your CBD oil is not as effective.
What Can CBD Oil Help With?
- Support healthy bone and cartilage function. As our cats age, they experience a decline in cartilage between their joints just like humans do. This can create discomfort that can limit your cat’s mobility. CBD oil is packed with cannabinoids that work to lubricate and support your cat’s joints and cartilage, bringing her comfort and helping her maintain her mobility.
- Provide temporary soothing for occasional gastric distress. Cats who experience digestive issues can get temporary soothing from occasional gastric distress with CBD oil. CBD oil soothes your cat’s tummy and helps her feel better, faster.
- Support normal brain function . We all want our cats to live the longest, healthiest lives possible, and part of giving them the best care we can is helping ensure their brain function is supported in the best manner possible. Research shows that CBD helps support healthy brain function in all mammals, which means your cat can benefit from supplementation, too!
- Calms and relaxes. All pets deserve to relax every now and again, and CBD oil can promote relaxation and overall emotional balance in your furry companion.
CBD oil is a great supplement for cats, and can best be administered in the form of a CBD oil tincture. Many cats will take this administration of CBD oil directly from the tincture’s syringe.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
The commercial growth, manufacture, and distribution of CBD was federally legalized with the passing of The Farm Bill of 2018. It should be noted that commercially grown hemp plants and the resulting CBD oil products must contain less than .03% THC to be considered legal.
Additionally, each state has differing laws regarding the legality of CBD oil growth and distribution, so it is important to check your state’s laws to ensure you can legally use CBD oil as a supplement for your cat.
CBD oil has a collection of helpful benefits for your cat, and it can be safely administered to her through the use of a high-quality, full-spectrum CBD oil.
CBD oil can support joint mobility, support gastrointestinal health, promote emotional balance, and even aid healthy brain function.
CBD is a great choice to add to your cat’s current health and wellness stack, but if you ever have any questions about adding anything to your pet’s regular regimen, don’t be shy to reach out to your veterinarian!