Introduction to CBD Hemp Oil for Cats
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 60 compounds known as cannabinoids found within cannabis plants. There are many strains of cannabis, but marijuana and hemp are the two most commonly utilized by humans. Marijuana is known for its pyschoactive properties and ability to give users a “high.” Hemp, on the other hand, is most commonly used for industrial and therapeutic purposes. CBD hemp oil is derived from this safer, more medicinal strain.
Most cannabis plants contain both CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the high-inducing compound in marijuana. The difference is that while marijuana typically contains anywhere from 2.5% to ≥25% THC¹, most commercial CBD products contain less than 0.3%. THC amounts this low are merely considered trace quantities. They are entirely benign and incapable of producing a high.
We are not the first human civilization to recognize and utilize hemp for medicinal purposes. In fact, it has been used to sooth a variety of ailments for nearly 1,000 years. Holistic doctors and veterinarians are still exploring the many ways CBD hemp oil can benefit humans and animals alike. While most of the research has focused on humans, dogs, and laboratory animals, several organizations are beginning to explore clinical trials in cats.²
Despite the lack of scientific data, holistic veterinarians and cat parents are singing the praises of CBD hemp oil as a natural and effective treatment for a growing list of issues in cats.
The Endocannabinoid System and Your Cat
All mammals and many other animal species have an endocannabinoid system which is an interconnected chain of receptors found in the brain, nervous system, glands, and organs. This system controls health and healing by acting as a command center and maintaining balance within the body.³
CBD oil produces therapeutic affects in the body by stimulating the endocannabinoid system to promote overall healing and wellness. It helps naturally regulate the system to maintain ideal balance and influence many internal processes related to pain, mood, sleep, and immune function.
Table of Contents: An Overview of CBD Oil for Cats
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Chronic Upper Respiratory Infections
- Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
- Appetite Stimulation/Nausea Reduction
For What Reasons Are Cat Owners Using CBD Hemp Oil?
Studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD as well as its ability to reduce anxiety and pain, lessen seizure activity, and improve overall well being. In addition to its many medicinal benefits, CBD is also quite safe for cats as long as it contains little to no THC. It may even help improve your cat’s mood, skin, coat, and energy levels.
According to Dr. Gary Richter, a veterinarian based in Oakland, CA:
“Almost anything that cannabis would be used for in a human, from a medical standpoint, has the potential to be equally as valuable in dogs or cats. Pain, inflammation, joint pain, gastro-intestinal related things, stress, anxiety, seizures, you name it. We’ve seen the benefits in all of these areas. “4
Below we will discuss some of the most common cat conditions treated with CBD oil by veterinarians and feline care givers.
CBD Hemp Oil for Pain in Cats
While there are several anti-inflammatory medications for the treatment of pain in dogs, there are only a few approved for the delicate systems of cats. This is one of the reasons veterinarians and cat parents are so enthusiastic about CBD hemp oil. Rather than using steroids or NSAIDs that carry severe side effects, they are turning to all-natural CBD for relief of pain associated with joint pain, nerve conditions, injuries and illnesses.
A group of researchers from the University of London even believe CBD is powerful enough to qualify as a new class of drug for pain relief.5
Joint inflammation is one of the most common causes of pain in cats. It occurs when the cartilage in a joint wears away, allowing the bones to rub together painfully. Although diagnosed more frequently in dogs, our feline friends can definitely suffer from sore, inflamed joints. Not only do cats visit the vet less often than dogs, they are also experts at hiding their pain.
Our pets should never have to suffer in silence. Using CBD oil in cats that are older, overweight, or have symptoms of joint pain can help reduce painful inflammation and allows them to move pain-free.
CDB Hemp Oil for Gastrointestinal Issues in Cats
Many cats suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and pancreatitis. Since it is a natural anti-inflammatory, many holistic vets recommend CBD hemp oil for their feline IBD patients. By reducing irritation and inflammation in the digestive tract, CBD may reduce IBD symptoms such as pain, discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite and weight loss.6
Many cats with IBD, diabetes and certain infections also develop pancreatitis. This condition is considered extremely painful and is often life-threatening without treatment. According to Dr. Angie Kraus, DVM of Boulder Holistic Vet:
“It occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, disrupting digestion. Once again, CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory, potentially aiding a cat dealing with pancreatitis.”²
CDB Hemp Oil for Seizures in Cats
Cats with epilepsy can suffer from multiple seizures a day, and according to the Epilepsy Foundation, pharmaceutical medications prove ineffective for some patients. Even cats that respond well to anti-convulsive drugs may find them too harsh to tolerate long-term. These medications have been known to cause serious side effects such as kidney or liver damage.
In a 2014 study on drug-resistant epilepsy in humans, CBD oil reduced the number of seizures by at least 50% in 39% of participants.7 Since the feline endocannabinoid system is similar to that of humans and CBD acts as a neuroprotective agent, it may also aid in reducing the frequency and intensity of seizures in cats.
CDB Hemp Oil for Asthma in Cats
Asthma is yet another common inflammatory disease in cats. CBD may be a great option to reduce bronchial inflammation, lessening the number of asthma attacks. Asthma is a chronic inflammation of small airways in the lungs. During an asthma attack, those airways constrict and drastically reduce the amount of air that gets to the lungs.8 Asthma attacks can be minor or may become life-threatening. Many asthmatic cats are reliant on inhalers and/or nebulizers.
With its inflammation-reducing properties, CBD may be a great option to help decrease the number and severity of asthma attacks a cat experiences.
CDB Hemp Oil for Chronic Upper Respiratory Infections
Many cats suffer from life-long viral infections causing symptoms like chronic congestion, sneezing, and itchy, runny eyes. Veterinarians and pet parents have been delighted to discover that feline patients taking CBD hemp oil for other ailments have had the wonderful “side effect” of reduced URI symptoms.²
CBD Hemp Oil For Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
Feline Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) describes a variety of painful often chronic conditions that affect the bladder and urethra. FLUTD causes severe inflammation of the urinary tract and may lead to painful urination, difficulty urinating, or life-threatening urinary blockages. Many cats require frequent, painful “unblocking” procedures and some even require a major surgery known as a perineal urethrostomy to widen the urethra.9
CBD may provide these poor kitties with some much-needed relief from pain and inflammation.
CBD Hemp Oil For Appetite Stimulation & Nausea Reduction
Cats are finicky eaters even when they are feeling their best, so it is no wonder they often stop eating when sick or stressed. Unfortunately, many can only go a few days without food before their liver becomes affected. Whether battling an illness, undergoing chemotherapy or dealing with a stressful life event, it is imperative that cats take in the nutrients they need to maintain their strength.
Cannabis is known to stimulate the appetite and suppress nausea in humans. This is why it is often prescribed to people battling chronic illnesses. According to Dr. Stacy Kerr, MD, CBD interacts with the body’s serotonin receptors, and can be more effective at relieving nausea than prescription pharmaceuticals.10
CDB Hemp Oil for Anxiety in Cats
Some cats suffer from chronic anxiety while others experience it only situationally. Either way, stress can cause behavioral issues like urinating or defecating outside the litterbox, aggression, or destructive scratching. Even worse, some cats become physically ill as a result of their stress, refusing to eat or experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.
For these kitties, CBD may help supplement the endocannabinoid system by altering serotonin signals. Seratonin is a hormone that helps regulate mood. CBD is thought to affect how the brain reacts to seratonin, much like many prescription antidepressants.11
Will CBD Oil Make My Cat High?
The short answer to this question is, no, CBD oil cannot and never will make your cat high. Only substances with a significant amount of THC can cause a psychoactive effect. Unlike marijuana, hemp contains only insignificant traces of THC. The quantity of THC varies widely in different strains of marijuana, but hemp-derived CBD oil contains less than 0.3%. Since cats are quite sensitive to THC, we recommend purchasing a CBD product where 100% of the THC has been removed.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Yes, CBD oil derived from hemp is legal in all 50 states as long as it contains 0.3% THC or less. Since most CBD oil from hemp contains little to no THC, it is not regulated in the same way as marijuana. However, the complex legal staus of marijuana often leads to confusion and frustration, deterring pet owners from taking advantage of CBD oil.
What Scientific Studies Have Been Done on CBD Hemp Oil in Cats?
Unfortunately, there isn’t much data when it comes to cannabinoids and cats.13
The only company to perform a long-term clinical and pharmacological study on cats, is ElleVet, who used their own hemp-based products. Otherwise, the available data primarily focuses on the toxicity of accidental cannabis ingestion in cats.
“Cats are absolutely not small dogs,” Amanda Howland, founder of ElleVet says, “and they metabolize things very differently. Cats can’t take any of the drugs that dogs take for pain. Their livers just don’t tolerate it.” If a human tries to help an ailing cat by giving it a canine pain reliever, “they can get very sick. There are very few pain options for cats that are safe. So we did a long-term safety study to determine that [our products] are safe for cats.”
The ElleVet researchers found that when it comes to the treatment of anxiety, cats respond even better to cannabinoid medicine than dogs. They also saw decreases in pain from joint pain and other problems. They currently have a pain study involving solely cats in progress and plans to study whether lowering anxiety levels with CBD helps improve chronic UTI symptoms.13
Despite the lack of published date, Dr. Gary Richter notes that countless vets and cat owners have seen the benefits of CBD in pets firsthand.
“While I am certainly a person who’s a proponent of the research,” he says, “just because the research isn’t there doesn’t mean you can or should ignore something that’s completely obvious and right in front of your face.”
Dr. Richter recommends its use for his feline patients and suggests interested cat parents consult their own vets for advice.13
What Side Effects or Risks Are Involved with Giving CBD Hemp Oil to My Cat?
The most common side effect cat owners report is sedation. Nausea, vomiting, changes in appetite, or anxiety could potentially occur if the cat has a bad reaction, but these cases are rare and usually very mild.6
In fact, Dr. Krause of Boulder Holistic Vet says she often sees a reduction in anxiety in her feline patients.
“The most common side effect I have seen in my patients is increased appetite and decreased anxiety. Some animals can become sedate on CBD products. CBD can promote relaxation and some animals are more sensitive than others.”
“If you notice your cat has become too sedate, stop giving the product and work with your veterinarian. Allergic reactions are always possible. Some cats that are allergic to grass can also be allergic to cannabis. This is rare but is a possibility.”²
In addition, many veterinarians and pet parents have actually reported positive side effects. For example, they begin using CBD to help their cat cope with joint pain and find that he or she also enjoys relief from asthma symptoms.14
What Dosage of CBD Oil Should I Give My Cat?
It is not possible to overdose with CBD as your cat’s body will just release the excess in his or her waste. However, when first introducing CBD hemp oil to your cat, it’s best to start out slow. This will help you pinpoint the perfect dose for your individual pet without shocking the system or causing adverse reactions.
While you should always consult with your veterinarian regarding dosage, a general rule of thumb for cats is 1mg to 5mg for every 10lbs of body weight. From there, you can increase the dosage until ideal affects are achieved.6
The key to dosing is finding a balance where the cat reaps all the benefits without experiencing side effects. If you notice any adverse reactions after administering CBD to your cat, discontinue useage immediately and consult with your vet before continuing.
You may find it necessary to increase the dosage over time to maintain the same level of benefit. Be sure to make these changes slowly and gradually to give the cat’s body time to adjust.
How Long Before CBD Oil Starts Working for My Cat?
Every cat responds differently to CBD oil, but in general, you can expect the following response times:
- When giving CBD directly into your cat’s mouth (sublingually) – Allow 20-60 minutes
- When giving CBD in your cat’s food – Allow 45 – 90 minutes
When treating chronic issues, you may not see optimal results until 2 to 4 weeks of steady use.
How Do I Choose a Quality CBD Oil Product for My Cat?
There are several factors to consider when choosing a CBD hemp oil product for your cat. Quality tinctures should include a certificate of analysis (COA) showing the results of laboratory analysis performed on the product. Ideally, the certificate should show high amounts of CBD and very low THC, if not none at all, as in Cannanine™ Organic Full Spectrum CBD Oil from Hemp.
Cannanine is non-GMO and made from human-grade ingredients including organic Colorado hemp. It contains absolutely no THC, so it will never give your cat an uncomfortable “high.” Laboratory test results show Cannanine is also free of heavy metals, harmful bacteria, yeast, mold, and other toxins.
All Cannanine products are maximized for bioavailability and absorbability by utilizing a patented nano-sized microemulsion with particles four times smaller than liposomal emulsions.
To learn more about choosing a high-quality, therapeutic CBD hemp oil product, view our Buyer’s Guide.
Which CBD Product Does iHeartCats Recommend?
We worked hard to create the Cannanine brand of CBD Oil. In addition to containing nano-sized emulsion (best for absorption) the formula is 100% THC free, which is relatively rare but very important for animal use. In addition, each and every purchase provides healthy meals for shelter pets through our partners at GreaterGood.org!
Real Cat Owner’s Experiences with CBD Oil
Zaphod was a 14-year-old kitty suffering from many of the common problems that plague senior cats. According to his owner, Kiki Kane:
“In the last two years, he has lost his purr, his eyesight, and his ability to comfortably jump, pounce, play, and recently, even cuddle.”
Kane also describes increased irritability, circling, nightime wandering, and other symptoms of age-related cognitive dysfunction. She added CBD oil to Zaphod’s medication protocol and noted that it “relaxed his facial expression and let him feel comfortable being picked up, held, or petted.”
While CBD did not completely resolve Zaphod’s night restlessness, it did allow Kane to carry him to bed with her, where he would fall asleep on her chest.
Sadly, Zaphod passed away, but Kane wrote that CBD oil allowed her to “offer a little more comfort as the light continued to fade.”15
More Testimonials of CBD for Cats from iHeartCats.com
iHeartCats.com polled their Facebook page with the following question: Have you given CBD oil to your cat? What was your experience? The following are some of the responses received:
“My eldest cat suffers from Feline Hyperesthesia. She chews on herself and is very hyper sensitive, doesn’t like to be bothered by the other cats. I started giving CBD oil in her milk every day, 2 drops. I’ve noticed significant changes within the first week. She doesn’t chew on her legs to the point of creating sores anymore and her fur is slowly growing back. She’s still her ornery self, but tolerates being around the other cats now.” – Tiana Carrigan
“I have been giving my senior cat the CBD drops since November. Huge improvement in his mobility, appetite and bathroom habits.” – Althea AJ Davis
“My 18 year old male cat had arthritis pretty bad. I started him on 250 4 drops a day and within a few days, we noticed he stopped limping, which is what he has been doing the last 2 years during the fall and winter months. I am pleased to announce that Junior now chases his other cat sibs and sleeps much better. He won’t live forever, but this old fella is sure feeling better!” – Carol Baize
“I have and it’s helped my cats back pain. Only downside is he hates the dropper and knows when I’m trying to give it to him and he runs.” – Katie Ryan
“I gave it to my two cats. With the first cat I didn’t notice any change. My second cat, who is very highly strung, was quite relaxed afterwards. Neither liked the taste of it so I stopped giving it to them.” – Lisa McElaney