As humans and our domesticated feline friends belong to the same taxonomic class - mammals - it shouldn’t be surprising that we share similar health conditions, such as anxiety, arthritis, and cancer. It’s also no wonder that alternative remedies commonly used by humans may have positive benefits for cats as well.
CBD benefits for cats with cancer, pain, anxiety, and many other health issues are not as well-documented or proven by scientific studies - which have been largely focused on humans. But there has been a lot of buzz and fuss over CBD in the pet industry, owing to the countless anecdotal evidence from cat owners who have shared how much CBD has helped positively impact their pet’s health.
Read on to learn why CBD has become a huge wellness trend for pets and whether or not it’s worth a try.
Facts About CBD
CBD vs THC
People often associate CBD with marijuana and, therefore, getting “high.” CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the two major cannabinoids present in marijuana, or the cannabis plant. But it is marijuana’s main component, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the plant’s psychoactive effects.
CBD is also present, and in much higher amounts, in the hemp plant. Both marijuana and hemp belong to the same species; however, hemp only contains 0.3% THC, and this amount is not enough to cause euphoria.
THC and CBD also have exactly the same molecular structure, which explains why they could share the same medicinal potential. The arrangement of their atoms, however, is different – and this is why THC produces euphoric effects and CBD does not.
For people who want to use CBD as an alternative remedy but do not wish to get “high,” hemp-derived CBD is the answer. It’s also important to note that THC is toxic to animals, including cats, so cat owners should make sure that they only use CBD derived from the hemp plant.
How does CBD work?
Cats and other mammals have an endocannabinoid system, which is part of the peripheral and nervous systems and mainly serves signalling functions. The ECS works when naturally occurring endocannabinoids bind with endocannabinoid receptors to produce the necessary response in the body, such as inflammation, in response to a trigger, such as a tumor.
When introduced into the body, CBD may directly interact with the ECS and affect the communication between endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. Depending on the trigger, i.e., the health issue, CBD may interact with the ECS to produce the desired effect, i.e., the remedy, thereby helping maintain balance and health. It’s important to note that experts are still trying to understand how CBD interacts with the ECS.
CBD Benefits for Cats
CBD products for cats are commonly available as oils, capsules, treats, and even catnip spray. Choosing the right type of product for your feline friend will mostly be determined by the specific condition you are trying to soothe. For chronic pain, for example, it is best to use CBD oil as this has the highest concentration of CBD (given that you’re choosing a high-quality product) and will, therefore, have the potential to be the most effective.
As mentioned above, studies that focus on how CBD affects cat health are still lacking. What science has been able to establish, so far, has been mostly based on human studies – which are still a work in progress and few and far in between. But initial findings are promising; that being said, scientists and veterinarians still caution pet owners regarding the use of CBD for their pet’s health as more conclusive evidence from more clinical trials is needed.
What these early findings do reveal is that CBD may be an effective remedy for joint pain, inflammation, and anxiety. On the other hand, anecdotal evidence from cat owners indicate that the benefits also include relaxation; reduced aggression; and positive changes in appetite, allergy symptoms, mood, sleep.
As one of the most studied cannabinoids alongside THC, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties have, at least, been already established. These properties may also mean that CBD can also be beneficial to cardiovascular, immune, and gastrointestinal health.
Remember, however, to always consult your veterinarian before giving your feline a new supplement or trying an alternative route – regardless of the countless five-star reviews, you see online regarding CBD. This is especially important if your cat has other health issues and is taking other medications.
CBD for dogs: Usage and Risks
CBD use for cats is generally safe, but as with any type of medication or supplement, overdosing can lead to adverse side effects. Again, keep in mind that THC is toxic to cats, so make sure that the CBD product you’re giving your cat is derived from hemp and has zero or no higher than 0.3% THC. Additionally, keep your cat away from cannabis plants.
Appropriate dosing will not only produce the desired effect, but will also ensure your cat’s safety. However, there are no established guidelines about proper CBD dosing for cats, as the use of this product is not regulated by the FDA.
Your best option is to consult your veterinarian. The correct dosage will depend on your cat’s weight and age and the specific condition you wish to address. Your vet is the most qualified to determine how much CBD you should administer to get the best results and minimize risks.
Of course, good-quality products from a trusted company will also provide dosage recommendations on the product label. Whether you’re following your vet’s advice or the product recommendations, it’s important to start with the smallest recommended dose. Observe how your cat reacts to this dosage; gradually increase or decrease the amount depending on how your pet responds and until you see the desired effect.
The general dosage recommendations for cats are as follows:
- For a mild dose to assist with a mild condition, such as occasional anxiety or sleeping difficulties, the recommended dosage is 0.25 mg for every pound of body weight.
- For a strong dose to assist with a more serious or chronic condition, such as chronic pain from arthritis, the recommended dosage is 0.5 mg for every pound of body weight.
It may take you a few days of careful dosing before you determine the correct dose for your cat. The condition you’re hoping to improve will also determine how long before you see some positive results. For example, it might take between 20 and 30 minutes for the CBD to take effect and soothe your cat’s anxiety or stress; and it might take a week or so of continuous and correct dosing before your cat’s joint pain eases and her mobility is revitalized.
Take note that different CBD products contain different amounts of CBD, and choosing the right CBD product will also depend on the condition you want to help ease, as well as your cat’s preferences. CBD oil or tincture is recommended for more serious conditions, for example, and you can either administer the correct number of drops directly into your cat’s mouth or mix it into her food. If she doesn’t like the taste and texture of the oil, you may have to switch to CBD treats, although the CBD content of these products is much lower.
It is actually difficult to overdose from CBD, and if you do accidentally give your cat too much, she will only most likely become heavily sedated – and the effect will wear off eventually without causing lasting adverse effects. Diarrhea is another potential side effect that your feline may experience after ingesting CBD in high amounts.
Needless to say, if you notice any serious adverse reactions, discontinue administering CBD and have your pet checked by your veterinarian as soon as possible. The adverse reaction may not have been caused by the CBD itself, but by other harmful substances present in the product.
Choosing the right CBD product/s for your cat
Because CBD is not yet approved by the FDA for use in animals, veterinarians are not allowed to recommend, much less prescribe, CBD to pet owners. However, you can bring up the subject and they will still be able to give you the professional guidance you need. You can also ask your vet to recommend a good CBD product.
Whether you’re shopping online or at a dispensary, take note of the following pointers when choosing a CBD product:
- Choose a high-quality CBD product. As much as possible, choose CBD oil derived from organic hemp, or at least make sure that the hemp source was not exposed to chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, and pesticides. Additionally, make sure that the oil itself does not contain solvents, heavy metals, and other harmful additives.
- Go with a trusted company/brand. A good-quality product, unfortunately, does not come cheap, so you should expect to pay a higher price when buying from a well-known brand. If the company is new or relatively unknown, do some research to find out where their hemp comes from and how they extract the CBD oil.
- Even if the product says that the CBD is derived from hemp, double-check the product info to make sure that it contains zero or less than 0.3% THC.
- Choose a product extracted from hemp that was sustainably grown on a farm within the U.S. or Europe.
- Look for a certificate of analysis that certifies the amount of CBD in the product and that there is little to no THC.
CBD for Cats - Final Thoughts
The potential CBD benefits for cats with cancer, pain, anxiety, and other conditions is too great to ignore – and scientists have finally realized that conducting research on the effectiveness and safety of CBD for veterinary purposes is long overdue. The overwhelming anecdotal evidence which demonstrates the potential relief produced by CBD is often more than enough to convince pet owners to give this wellness trend a try.
Should you decide that CBD is right for your cat, choose a CBD product that is specially formulated for pets. All the same, make sure that the CBD is derived from hemp and that the product contains zero or, at the most, less than 0.3% THC.
As of yet, there’s not nearly enough human studies that have looked at how CBD affects health – and there are even fewer studies involving animals. A lot of pet owners feel that what’s good enough for them is good enough for their beloved furbaby – but keep in mind that not everything that’s suitable for human consumption is also suitable for felines.
If you are seriously considering giving your cat CBD, seek your vet’s advice and also read as much as you can about the benefits and potential disadvantages of using this alternative remedy. One more thing you should always keep in mind is that, when it comes to CBD, price does determine the quality.