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 cannabis oil safe for cats? And what sorts of ailments might it treat?
How to Use CBD Oil For Cats
A Handy How-To Guide for Dosing CBD Oil For Cats
Although talk of CBD has been around the use for humans and dogs, cats are just as much a part of our family – so that brings up a big question: Can CBD help them live their best lives, too? There are a lot of reasons to think the answer may be yes.
HOW DOES CBD WORK?
All animals have an endocannabinoid system, and it plays a big role in keeping them healthy. The body produces endocannabinoids, substances much like the cannabinoids found in cannabis. These travel the bloodstream and attach to cells throughout the body to deliver messages and instructions that tell it what’s going on and how to react. Almost every bodily process is affected by these endocannabinoids.
That’s how CBD works. It takes the place of these endocannabinoids. When they aren’t delivering the instructions we need them to, or when the system is under more stress than normal, then CBD can help bring everything back to a state of homeostasis.
HOW DOES CBD OIL FOR CATS WORK?
Cats have an endocannabinoid system, too. So it’s hardly a stretch to think that CBD can help them with things like anxiety, stress, inflammation, and pain in the same way we’re finding out it helps the rest of us . And we do see and hear lots of anecdotal evidence to back up the idea—from stories about unpettable cats turning in snugglebugs to reports of arthritic felines getting their mojo back.
Still, we can’t say for 100% sure because there just isn’t any long-term studies (yet!) to confirm our suspicions. We do know that CBD appears to be as safe for cats as it is for dogs . One project found large doses could cause side effects but said THC contamination was probably to blame. That same study also found that CBD was absorbed and eliminated differently in cats than it was in pups, which may mean modifying our doses for cats.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CBD OIL FOR CATS?
CBD’s main claim to fame is it’s ability to decrease inflammation and thus decrease chronic pain in mammals. Researchers at Cornell University fount that CBD oil is great at treating pain because they taret a receptor called the ‘villanoid receptor’ and prevent it from turing on.
CBD is also an excellent neuroprotector which makes it great at treating neurological disorders like seizures and epilepsy.
Other ways in which CBD can benefit cats is by helping with their:
- Seizures/ Epilepsy
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Urinary Tract
- Overall Wellness
WHICH CBD OIL?
CBD oil for cats usually comes mixed with a few other ingredients to help make it more palatable and nutritious. Often times human or dog CBD is mixed with coconut oil. Unfortunately, cats can’t process the healthy fatty acids found in plants like coconuts (that’s because they’re carnivores.
So look for CBD oils containing sardine oil instead, like Austin and Kat’s Purrfect Feline Formula. And if you must use a coconut oil-based CBD, make sure you get a concentrated one so your furry friend isn’t ingesting too much.
HOW MUCH CBD SHOULD I GIVE?
We recommend giving a dose of 2-4 mg of CBD per 10 pounds for cats to start. This is twice the amount we recommend for dogs, but don’t fret. Cat’s don’t have as many cannabinoid receptors as dogs so they need twice the amount to see the same effects. For cats with cancer or seizures, start with 4-6mg of CBD per 10 pounds.
The more difficult the condition, the more CBD you’ll need. But start small and go up until your furry feline is feeling happier and calmer. A little less, or even a little more oil won’t do any harm. Dosing can easily remain approximate until you’re able to find what works best for your cat.
Charlie, or Char-Char, for example, is a lazy 25-pound orange tabby cat. He would have a starting serving of 5mg of CBD and can increase to 10mg if 4mg is not enough for him.
Just remember – It takes about 15-45 minutes to reach full-effect in your pet’s system and lasts for about 4 – 6 hours, depending on breed, ailments, activity level, and their own personal chemistry.
A Handy How-To Guide for CBD Oil Dosage for cats. How much? How to give CBD? Which CBD product is best for my cat?