As a veterinarian, I often field questions from cat owners about CBD. That's right, CBD isn't just for dogs! But what are CBD's benefits for cats?
Since research on CBD for cats is lacking, my answer depends on each kitty's unique situation and needs. In this article, we'll explore what CBD is, talk about its safety, learn its potential benefits for your feline friend, and more.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in hemp and cannabis plants. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not have psychoactive effects and will not make your cat "high." (1).
Researchers are still studying how CBD works in people and pets. We know that CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system which cats, dogs, and humans all share.
The endocannabinoid system helps maintain physiological balance in the body—a state called "homeostasis." This system influences various physiological processes including appetite, mood, sleep, and immune function.
Safety of CBD for Cats
It's important to remember that CBD's effectiveness has never been clinically tested in cats. Still, there have been a few small-scale safety studies.
So far, the safety studies suggest that CBD is generally safe for healthy cats (2). However, some cats may experience side effects such as excessive sleepiness (sedation), excessive licking, or gastrointestinal upset.
Contact your veterinarian if your cat experiences side effects from CBD.
In contrast to CBD, THC is not considered safe for pets. High-quality full-spectrum CBD comes from hemp, which contains very little THC by law. Broad-spectrum hemp CBD products are completely THC-free.
If cannabis is legal in your state, store THC-containing candies and foods somewhere your cat's prying paws can't reach.
CBD for Cats: Benefits
While research on the benefits of CBD oil for cats is lacking, we can look to anecdotal reports as well as studies in dogs.
Importantly, cats are not small dogs! Dogs and cats have very different internal systems. Our kitties evolved to process food and medications differently. So, we can't assume that the potential benefits of CBD automatically apply to cats.
Dog studies have investigated the effects of CBD on these conditions:
- Pain: Dogs with arthritis given CBD along with traditional anti-inflammatory medications have shown reduced signs of pain (3).
- Anxiety: Dogs taking CBD exhibited fewer stress behaviors in a study of separation and car anxiety (4).
- Aggression: A study of pets surrendered to an animal shelter found that CBD was associated with less aggressive behavior in dogs (5).
If your cat struggles with any of these conditions, reach out to your veterinarian. Your vet can help you build a treatment plan and determine if CBD could help.
Will CBD Interact with My Cat's Medications?
It's also essential to consult your vet about CBD if your kitty takes prescription medicine. CBD affects liver enzymes that break down drugs, leading some medications to stop working or last too long.
Similarly, if your kitty takes CBD and will start a new medication soon, speak up at your vet's office. You may need to pause your cat's CBD regimen or change the dose.
Choosing the Best CBD for Your Cat
Choosing the right product and dose is important if you're considering CBD for your cat. Here are some tips:
- Look for CBD specifically formulated for pets. Human CBD can contain ingredients that are dangerous for animals.
- Make sure a third-party laboratory has tested the product to ensure purity and potency.
- Consult with your veterinarian to choose a proper dosage based on your cat's weight and medical history. Dose guidance will also be available on the manufacturer's website.
- Start with a low dosage and gradually increase it as needed.
With so many CBD products out there, it may seem as simple as choosing one at random. Not so!
A 2017 study found that almost half of CBD products contained more than what was listed on the label, while nearly a quarter contained significantly less (6). Low-quality CBD products can also be contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides.
So, is CBD Good for Cats?
While research on the benefits of CBD for cats is lacking, it is generally considered safe for healthy felines. If you are considering using CBD for your cat, use high-quality, independently tested products.
Lastly, remember that CBD should not be used as a replacement for traditional medications. Consult your veterinarian to recommend dosing and make sure CBD won't interfere with your cat's medications.
That way, you can ensure that CBD will be a safe part of your cat's wellness regimen.