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CBD for Cats – Dosage, Benefits, Safety, What You Need to Know

Is CBD for cats the ‘miracle drug’ cat parents have been looking for? How about the side effects vs the benefits? There is still a lot of research to be done, but many cat owners have already attested to the benefits of CBD as a mood enhancer and pain reliever in their beloved feline companions. 

In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about CBD for cats, including its potential benefits, possible side effects, and appropriate dosage levels. 

What is CBD for Cats?

Sometimes referred to as cat weed (not a term we will dwell on too much here!), CBD is a chemical oil known as Cannabidiol which is found in the hemp plant. It can also be found in other plants in the Cannabaceae family, such as marijuana, but it is most often extracted from hemp. The reason for this is that the other plants contain higher levels of the active compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which induces a psychoactive response – basically, it makes you high!

All mammals (and some invertebrates) have something called an endocannabinoid system. This helps to maintain the balance of bodily functions even when environmental factors change, such as the immune system and your appetite. The endocannabinoid receptors, which are present in nearly every part of the body, react with cannabinoids, which is why CBD has such a significant impact on mood and stress levels. 

You can now purchase a variety of CBD cat products but keep in mind that the effects of this substance have not been thoroughly studied in animals. According to Dr. Daniel Inman, a vet at Burlington Emergency Veterinary Williston in Vermont:  

“There are not many classical medical studies that explore the effects of CBD oil in cats. While we don’t recommend CBD oil for our patients, holistic veterinarians are using it to treat a variety of ailments, including inflammation, anxiety and pain.”

 

What are the Benefits of CBD for Cats?

As Dr. Inman put it, some vets are now choosing to prescribe CBD to treat various ailments in cats. However, the CBD for pets market is not yet regulated. So, always make sure you consult with a qualified veterinarian who will be able to explain the potential side effects, as well as any alternatives that may be better suited to treating your pet’s condition. 

Because of the way CBD works on the endocannabinoid system, it has been proposed as an effective treatment for mood-related disorders in cats, particularly anxiety. This condition can manifest in numerous ways, depending on the cause, so it often goes undiagnosed. Common signs of cat anxiety to watch out for include:

  • Excessive vocalizations without any apparent cause
  • Urinating or defecating outside the litter box
  • Reduced appetite
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Withdrawal or lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Salivation
  • Dilated pupils

Of course, many of these symptoms can be signs of other medical conditions. So, you should seek advice from your vet if you are concerned. 

CBD for cats is also believed to help relieve symptoms of chronic pain and even seizures but always make sure you purchase a product with low THC for your cat. 0.3% is the benchmark to refer to. Bear in mind that the laws surrounding CBD and cannabis use vary between states. So, your access to these products may be limited depending on where you live. 

Other uses for cat CBD:

  • CBD for cats aggression
  • CBD for cats arthritis
  • CBD for cats with kidney disease
  • CBD for cats with asthma

The dose rate of CBD for cats

cbd oil for cats vet giving cbd oil drop to a cat

The dose rate of CBD can vary depending on your cats’ condition. However, as a general guide, 1-5 milligrams is the recommended range for a cat weighing approximately 10lb. 

Make sure you consult with a veterinarian before administering any sort of CBD product to your pet. Commercially available CBD products can vary widely in the levels of cannabinoids and contaminants that they contain. The wrong type of product could endanger your pet’s life if you are not careful. So, always err on the side of caution. This is particularly important if you have a cat with an underlying medical condition because they may metabolize the drug differently to other cats. 

When administering CBD to your cat, always start with the lowest recommended dose. You can increase the amount in increments if no difference is observed in your feline after an hour or so. NEVER exceed the maximum recommended dosage level. 

You will know the CBD has taken effect when your cat appears calmer and more subdued. Too much CBD can cause lethargy and excessive tiredness (not an easy thing to notice with an animal that naturally sleeps for 20 hours a day!). So, take things slow and speak to your vet if you are worried. 

Cat CBD along with other medications

CBD can successfully be given in conjunction with most other medications. Some studies have found that CBD can interact with certain prescription medications, notably those that are broken down by Cytochrome P450 enzymes. It is also known to increase the effects of blood-thinning medications. This may sound a little alarming but it is not something you need to worry about as long as you are consulting with a qualified veterinarian. 

Remember that you should never stop giving your pet any medication that has been prescribed by a veterinarian, in favor of CBD. While this drug is known to have many benefits, it is not a suitable substitute for other medications. 

Adverse effects of CBD on cats

CBD is famed for being a natural supplement that has very few side effects. However, it is still important to observe your cat closely, especially in the early stages of CBD use. If you notice any of the following symptoms you should contact your vet immediately:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sedation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure

Choosing the best CBD product for your cat

There are now countless CBD cat products on the market, which can make it very difficult for cat owners to choose the right one! The most important thing is to buy products from a reputable or trustworthy source. As mentioned above, this market is not yet regulated so always check the label to ensure the THC level is low and that no nasty contaminants have been added. 

Never, purchase CBD for your cat from an unregulated website just because it’s a good price. The cheapest option is not always the most appropriate when it comes to CBD. Have a chat with your vet first as they will be able to advise you on the best products to use. 

Best ways to give CBD to your cat

CBD comes in a wide variety of forms, from CBD cat treats and soft chews to capsules and CBD oil for cats supplements. Which one you choose will be entirely dependent on your cat’s preferences. The bottled oil variety is perhaps the most convenient as it comes with a measuring dropper so you can ensure you always give the correct dose. This can be added to your cat’s food or dropped directly into the mouth (if your cat lets you!). 

You can also find topical CBD products that can be applied directly to the skin to relieve the discomfort of dry, itchy, or inflamed areas. 

If you decide to use CBD cat treats, make sure you restrict their use to prevent an overdose. 

Can I use human CBD oil for my cat?

Yes, you can offer human CBD oil to your cat because both humans and animals have the same system to process cannabinoids. However, bear in mind that products designed for pets tend to have a lower concentration of CBD. So, you must always read the label and consult with a vet if you are unsure. You may need to adjust the dosage depending on the cannabinoid concentration level and the weight of your cat. 

Final Thoughts: CBD for Cats

CBD has grown in popularity, thanks to its calming effects on the mental and physical health of both humans and our pets. Most of the research so far, suggests that CBD is a perfectly safe supplement. However, there is much more work to be done. For this reason, if you choose to try CBD for your cat, you should always start with the lowest recommended dosage and consult with your vet throughout the process.