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 treatment is often needed. CBD for cat anxiety is a natural treatment option that more and more cat owners are going for.
What is CBD and how does it work in treating anxiety?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the two active chemicals present in the cannabis plant (marijuana), alongside tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While THC is known for the psychoactive effect of medical marijuana, CBD is responsible for many of its health benefits: as a calmative; anti-inflammatory; pain reliever; mood regulator; sleep aid; appetite booster; and digestive and immune support.
THC is toxic to animals, however. Fortunately, CBD can also be derived from the hemp plant, which contains more cannabidiol compared to cannabis, and less than 0.3% THC, which is not enough to be toxic. Hemp-derived CBD, therefore, is a safe and effective alternative remedy that many veterinarians are prescribing for use in animals.
CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is present in all mammals. Cannabidiol mimics the signalling functions of the body’s naturally occurring cannabinoids. One of these functions involves the release of the hormone serotonin, the body’s natural mood booster. When CBD enters the body, it binds with cannabinoid receptors which activates serotonin receptors which, in turn, produces a calming effect.
The same mechanism is also involved in producing CBD’s other positive health effects, such as providing relief from pain or nausea, improving appetite and sleep, reducing the frequency of seizures, and treating digestive issues and even cancer symptoms.
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 labelled as health supplements and, therefore, are not regulated and approved for medical use by the FDA. Early findings from a number of studies looking into the effects of CBD on animals combined with numerous anecdotal evidence, however, support the great potential of cannabidiol in treating certain ailments, including anxiety disorders. In fact, many veterinarians recommend the use of CBD to help calm the nerves of anxious pets.
When starting your cat on any new alternative therapy, it is always best to consult your vet first. Your vet will be able to recommend a good-quality product and provide instructions on proper dosing based on your cat’s age, weight, overall condition, and the specific ailment that you want to treat. If your cat has an underlying health problem, and especially if she is taking other medications, you should consult your vet before giving her CBD as it may interact with her meds and cause harmful side effects and complications.
For the correct CBD dosing, CBD products typically provide dosage recommendations in their product information. To treat cat 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 the known trigger.
The general recommended dosage for CBD in animals is between 0.2 and 0.25 mg per pound of body weight. Again, your vet will be more qualified to determine the appropriate dosage for your pet, so don’t hesitate to seek their advice if you have any doubts.
CBD products formulated for animals are available as oils, soft gel capsules, treats, and topical creams or lotions. CBD oils are often the most potent; 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 treats often have the least amount of CBD because cannabidiol degrades when cooked in high temperatures.
Because anxiety is considered a mild condition, you may not need the high potency of CBD oil or capsules to help your cat relax; CBD cat treats may be enough to produce the calming effect she needs.
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.