Cannabidiol or CBD is probably one of the most effective and sought-after natural remedies in both modern and holistic medicine. It’s many medicinal benefits have been widely studied and established - from reducing anxiety to providing relief from pain and supporting overall wellness. Fortunately for our royal feline companions, the use of CBD oil to treat various cat ailments is also supported by traditional and holistic veterinarians alike.
As a pet owner who may not yet be aware of how CBD oil can benefit your cat’s health, here’s a full primer to help you understand what CBD is and how it works; how to use it; and if it’s safe and effective.
What is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol is the second active ingredient in marijuana, the first being tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Unlike THC, however, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects - this means that CBD does not cause the high associated with medicinal marijuana, mostly because medicinal marijuana is mainly produced and used for its THC content.
CBD oil is typically derived from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the cannabis or marijuana plant. Hemp also contains THC, but the levels are not high enough (less than 0.3 percent) to produce any hallucinogenic effects; more importantly, the plant has higher levels of CBD than it does THC.
For medicinal purposes, CBD oil is diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut, hempseed, palm, or olive oil. Individuals who want the health benefits of CBD oil but not the high of THC should choose a CBD oil product that is derived from hemp. Cat owners who may also want to try the holistic approach for their cat’s ailment and overall health should make sure that the CBD oil they purchase does not come from marijuana, as THC is not safe for cats.
What are the benefits of CBD oil?
The benefits of CBD oil to human health have been widely researched. This medicinal oil has been shown to be effective in treating seizures in epileptic patients, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and inflammation.
However, further studies are needed to establish the most effective dose of CBD for specific medical conditions. Currently, CBD oil is being marketed as a supplement and not as a drug and is, therefore, largely unregulated by the FDA. This means that CBD oil products offer no real guarantee of their purity and safety. In humans, the side effects of CBD oil include fatigue, irritability, and nausea. The oil may also react adversely with other medications.
CBD is legal and easily obtainable from holistic health shops and online sellers in the United States, but there are varying levels of restriction regarding its distribution and use depending on each state’s laws.
CBD oil for cats
Humans, dogs, and cats have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is primarily made up of endocannabinoids, endocannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. The ECS regulates a wide variety of functions and processes, such as appetite, immune function, inflammation, pain, stress, sleep, and reproductive function; it is triggered into action when an endocannabinoid binds with a receptor. The enzymes, on the other hand, break down the endocannabinoids once they have carried out their function.
Cannabidiol oil supports the endocannabinoid system by preventing the enzymes from breaking down endocannabinoids - thereby giving them more time to work as they bind with receptors and give the appropriate signal to the ECS, such as to relieve pain or anxiety or to trigger hunger or sleepiness.
Anecdotal and early scientific studies have so far provided evidence that CBD oil can be an effective treatment for a variety of ailments in dogs, particularly those that do not respond well to medications. There has been very little research that shows the same benefits for cats, but holistic and even some traditional veterinarians recommend using CBD oil as an alternative treatment for various cat ailments.
How to use CBD oil for cats
One thing you have to keep in mind is that CBD oil will not give your cat a “high”; she’d be better off getting her hallucinogenic kicks from catnip. Cannabidiol oil offers a number of health benefits to our feline friends, such as:
- Reducing stress and promoting relaxation
- Supporting joint and bone health
- Supporting skin health and providing relief from symptoms of seasonal allergies
- Supporting cognitive function and immune health
How much CBD oil should you give your cat?
While CBD oil is labelled as a supplement, it is still important that you give your feline friend the proper amount based on her weight. It is always best to consult your vet before starting kitty on a new supplement, but the recommended safe amount is .25 mg per pound of body weight given once per day.
Always start off with the minimum recommended dosage if it’s kitty’s first time to take CBD oil. You can gradually increase the dosage if you’re not seeing the desired effect; but again, err on the side of caution and seek your vet’s advice particularly regarding the proper dosage.
What are the side effects of CBD oil in cats?
Each cat will react differently to a certain medication or supplement, but mild lethargy and sedation are common side effects of CBD oil in felines. You may want to consider lowering her dosage if she sleeps more than usual after taking CBD oil.
If you notice other symptoms, such as an upset stomach or discomfort, you should stop giving kitty the CBD oil and have her checked by a vet. The CBD product may contain other ingredients or kitty may have an undiagnosed condition that doesn’t respond well to cannabidiol.
Buying CBD oil for your cat
As a supplement, the manufacture and sale of CBD oil is mostly unregulated by the FDA. Make sure to do your research and choose a reputable manufacturer/seller. Read customer feedback - both positive and negative; better yet, ask a holistic vet or your vet for a recommendation.
Buying organic CBD oil is, of course, always the best option. You would not want to expose your beloved feline friend to herbicides and pesticides. As much as possible, choose a product derived from organically grown hemp.
Even more importantly, make sure that the CBD oil you’re purchasing is derived from hemp, not marijuana. This guarantees that the product does not contain any or only trace amounts of THC - not enough to have any psychoactive effects on your cat.
You may also come across the terms “CBD isolate” and “full-spectrum CBD oil” while shopping around for CBD oil. Simply put, CBD isolate is pure cannabidiol, whereas full-spectrum CBD oil also contains the other cannabinoids as well as terpenes present in the hemp plant. You can opt for pure CBD oil, but studies have also shown that full-spectrum CBD oil may be more effective because the other cannabinoids in hemp boost the effect of cannabidiol - as they are naturally meant to do.
CBD Oil for Cats - Final Thoughts
When looking after your beloved feline’s health, you should also consider the benefits of a holistic approach. The benefits of using CBD oil to support a cat’s general wellness and to treat certain ailments have yet to be thoroughly studied, but the medicinal properties of hemp-derived cannabidiol have been known for centuries.
If you are able to get your hands on organic CBD oil or at least a product that contains no impurities, and when used properly, CBD oil is relatively safe for cats. It is always best to check with your vet regarding the proper dosage for your cat’s weight, age, ailment, and overall condition before getting her started on this supplement.
When giving CBD oil to kitty, keep a close eye on any adverse reactions, or even mild symptoms. Should anything worrisome develop, stop giving her the supplement and you can either wait and see if the symptom/s will improve or you can take her to a vet for a proper assessment.