Anxiety is part of the body’s fear and flight response; it is a natural reaction to a perceived or imminent threat or danger. But anxiety can also present itself even when there is no real threat; when this type of anxiety becomes a chronic condition in cats, some form of action is often needed to help your furry friend. CBD for cat anxiety is a natural aid that more and more cat owners are opting for to help relax and soothe their jittery pets.
What is CBD and how does it work in helping soothe anxiety?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a plant cannabinoid (phytocannabinoid) found in the cannabis plant. While CBD is present in marijuana, the amount is much lower than that of THC, which is the major component of the plant and the compound responsible for most of its supposed health effects and, particularly, for its psychoactive effects.
CBD, along with hundreds of other phytocannabinoids and other compounds in cannabis, actually helps boost the effect of THC. But on its own, scientists have found that CBD may also have some health benefits: as a calmative; anti-inflammatory; pain reliever; mood regulator; sleep aid; appetite booster; and digestive and immune support. It’s important to mention, however, that these health effects have yet to be conclusively proven and understood.
The use of CBD for cat anxiety is mostly based on how this plant compound may beneficially interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is present in all animals, including humans. Additionally, what is known about this interaction is largely derived from human studies. One of the more popular hypotheses formed from these studies states that CBD may stimulate the release of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood and an increase in serotonin levels may help boost mood and promote calmness.
Aside from these studies, anecdotal evidence from cat owners who have shared how CBD has helped with their pet’s anxiety may provide further proof that CBD works.
The ability of CBD to directly interact with the ECS may also explain its potential to produce other positive health effects, such as providing relief from pain or nausea, improving appetite and sleep, helping manage seizures, and addressing digestive issues and even cancer symptoms.
Keep in mind that marijuana is toxic to animals because of its high THC content. CBD for pets must be derived from industrial hemp, which contains less than 0.3% THC — a non-toxic amount.
What can cause your cat’s anxiety?
Your cat’s anxiety can be triggered by any of the following:
- Fear of an external stimulus or situation, such as loud noises (a vacuum cleaner, fireworks, or thunder) or travelling.
- Separation from their owners.
- Generalized anxiety, which has either multiple or no specific triggers. Possible triggers may include other cats or animals; humans other than their owners or specific individuals; unfamiliar locations or any change in their home environment.
- A traumatic event or their owner’s anxiety
Your cat may exhibit anxiety through any of the following behaviors:
- A change in her normal levels of activity
- Increased clinginess to her owner
- Excessive meowing
- Beyond normal sleepiness or lethargy
- Destructive behavior
- Increased vigilance and restlessness
- Urinating and/or defecating outside the litter box/all over the house
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Obsessive grooming
Using CBD for cat anxiety
CBD products are not regulated and approved by the FDA for medical use, but CBD is legal in all states. As mentioned above, conclusive evidence of the health benefits of CBD is still lacking, but what’s already been discovered by scientists combined with numerous anecdotal evidence support the potential of cannabidiol in managing cat anxiety and other ailments. In fact, In California where veterinarians are allowed to recommend CBD to pet owners, the most common recommendation is for the purpose of anxiety relief.
Talk to your vet first if it’s your cat’s first time to take CBD. Your vet may be able to recommend a good-quality product and is also the most qualified to provide instructions on proper dosing based on your cat’s age, weight, overall condition, and the specific ailment that you want to address. If your cat has an underlying health problem, and especially if she is taking other medications, it’s crucial that you consult your vet before giving her CBD as it may interact with her meds and cause harmful side effects and complications.
You may also refer to the CBD product information for dosage recommendations. The general recommended dosage for CBD in animals is between 0.2 and 0.25 mg per pound of body weight. For anxiety, low doses are often enough. Start with the smallest dose recommended and observe how your cat responds to it. CBD usually takes effect within 30 to 90 minutes of being administered. If you do not see any calming effect, increase the dosage by small doses until you get the result you desire. You can give your cat CBD 30 to 60 minutes before she is exposed to her anxiety trigger.
CBD oil is the best option if you’re looking for potency. But because anxiety may only require a low CBD concentration, you may opt for other CBD products, such as CBD cat treats.
If you want to use CBD oil, a good-quality product should contain organic, hemp-derived cannabidiol extracted using pharmaceutical grade ethanol, as well as a carrier oil (usually hemp seed oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or MCT).
CBD gel capsules provide more consistent dosing and may be easier to give to your cat. However, it involves additional breakdown by the digestive system which may reduce the amount and potency of the CBD your cat absorbs.
CBD for Anxiety in Cats - Final Thoughts
Cats are naturally highly alert and vigilant, but the symptoms of anxiety in cats are often easily recognizable. Whether your cat’s anxiety is mild and occasional or chronic and severe, CBD products formulated for pets can work wonders in helping them become calmer.
Make sure to get a good-quality CBD product that is derived from organic hemp so that it will contain less than 0.3% THC and zero impurities. Always check the product information for other ingredients that may be included, particularly when buying CBD treats. A good product from a reputable company should also be able to provide certificates of third-party testing which should verify the CBD content and absence of impurities and toxins.