If you're a cat owner learning about CBD online, you've probably noticed that dogs receive the lion's share of attention.
This imbalance could exist for a variety of reasons. For example, active dogs may suffer more aches and pains than our laid-back feline friends. Sparse information about CBD for kitties is also noticeable beyond websites and blogs.
Most scientific studies on pet CBD focus on dogs, meaning we know very little about cats and CBD (1). Given these circumstances, you may wonder, "can cats take CBD oil in the first place?"
The short answer is yes; there are CBD products available for cats. However, there is a lot we don't know yet. It's crucial to discuss your cat's specific situation with a veterinarian before starting CBD.
In addition to consulting your vet, there are some feline-specific details you'll need to keep in mind. In the article below, you'll find our quick-access guide to cat CBD, safety tips, and more.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound produced by plants in the Cannabis family. CBD and its chemically-similar relatives are called cannabinoids.
The other most well-known and well-researched cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for the "high" associated with recreational cannabis.
Unlike THC, there is no "high" with CBD. CBD is not psychoactive. In the United States, legal CBD must come from hemp, a term for Cannabis plants that contain little or no THC (2).
How CBD Works
We have a lot to learn about exactly how CBD works in cats. However, CBD generally works by interacting with the body's endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is a family of receptors and natural chemicals produced by the body. This system exists in all mammals, including cats, dogs, and humans.
The main job of the endocannabinoid system is to preserve balance across many other systems in the body. The scientific term for this balance is "homeostasis."
Because of its far-reaching role in homeostasis, the endocannabinoid system and CBD can affect multiple bodily functions. These functions include sleep, immunity, and pain. However, we don't know how CBD affects these outcomes in cats yet.
Can You Give Cats CBD Oil?
Even if you know about CBD for dogs, clever cat owners might wonder if kitties can have CBD in the first place. The general answer is yes; cats can take CBD.
Of course, it's crucial to discuss CBD with your veterinarian first, especially if your cat is on prescription drugs for a medical condition. It's also valuable to remember that cats and dogs respond to supplements differently.
In veterinary medicine, a common saying is, "cats are not small dogs." Among other differences, our feline friends have a unique way of processing, or metabolizing, medications.
Understanding key differences between dog and cat metabolism can even save your kitty's life. For example, pyrethroids, a type of flea-prevention ingredient used for dogs, can be fatally poisonous to cats (3).
Always look for cat-specific information when you're online researching CBD and other pet products.
Safety of CBD Oil for Cats
As we mentioned, CBD is generally considered safe for cats. This information comes from a small number of research studies done by veterinarians.
Pet owners have also documented giving kitties CBD without significant problems. This type of information is called "anecdotal evidence." You should know that there have been no large, long-term studies on the safety of CBD in cats.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not officially approved CBD to treat any cat or dog diseases. In other words, we need more information to fully understand how CBD works in felines, especially with extended or chronic use.
Always consult your veterinarian before adding CBD to your kitty's wellness regimen.
Side Effects of CBD for Cats
Based on the research so far, CBD's side effects are mild in both cats and dogs (4). Some side effects, such as stomach upset, may also be reduced by giving CBD with food.
However, the small research studies performed so far have focused on healthy adult cats. If your kitty is older, has health concerns, or takes prescription medication, it's best to be more cautious.
Here are a few side effects to watch for in cats taking CBD:
- Stomach upset (vomiting or diarrhea)
- Excessive licking or head shaking
- Increased sleepiness (sedation)
- Changes in liver enzymes (requires a blood test)
- Allergic reaction (stomach upset, itchy skin, coughing)
If you're concerned that your kitty is experiencing side effects from CBD, stop administering it and talk to your veterinarian. You and your vet can then troubleshoot the issue and make adjustments.
Overall, you can take two key steps when learning about cats and CBD.
First, consult your veterinarian to ensure CBD is safe for your kitty's needs. Each of our furry friends is unique, and your vet can make sure CBD is appropriate for their age and health status.
Second, research high-quality CBD products for pets. Look for independent third-party testing, which is a valuable quality-checking method.
Unfortunately, not all CBD products are made with quality in mind (5). Third-party tests confirm that your cat's CBD contains the proper dosage and is free of contaminants.
These two steps are the fastest way to ensure CBD is a safe addition to your cat's wellness routine.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you'd like a quick summary of this article or need answers about cat CBD oil in a hurry, check out our answers to these frequently asked questions.
"What is CBD oil?"
CBD oil is a liquid preparation of hemp plant material that contains cannabidiol (CBD). CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, influencing immunity, sleep, pain, and other functions.
"Can I give my cat CBD oil?"
Probably! In general, you can give cats CBD. Still, it's best to talk to your vet before getting started, especially if your cat has health problems or takes prescription medications.
"Is it safe to give a cat CBD oil if they take other medications?"
It depends. CBD may affect how your cat's body processes certain drugs. Talk to your veterinarian to determine if CBD suits your cat's unique needs.