Cannabidiol (CBD) has gained attention as a supplement for humans, and now animals due to its potential therapeutic benefits. CBD is a compound derived from the cannabis (hemp) plant that is known for its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes in the body.
While scientific research on CBD usage specifically for cats is limited, there is growing interest in exploring its potential applications for managing various health conditions, including pain, anxiety, inflammation, and behavioral issues.
What Is CBD?
The key difference between CBD and marijuana lies in their THC content and psychoactive effects. CBD is short for cannabidiol. While marijuana contains high levels of THC and induces a high, CBD is non-intoxicating and derived from cannabis (hemp) plants with low THC content.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
CBD can be generally considered safe for cats when administered properly and in appropriate dosages as determined by your cat’s veterinarian. However, there is still much to learn about its long-term effects and potential interactions with other medications.
Here are some considerations when considering the use of a CBD product for your cat:
Quality Control: Ensure that you are using high-quality CBD products specifically formulated for pets. Look for products that are sourced from organic hemp and undergo third-party testing for purity and potency. Do not use CBD products formulated for humans, as they may contain additional ingredients that could be harmful to cats.
THC Content: Ensure that the CBD products you choose for your cat have very low or no THC content. THC can cause toxicity in cats and must be avoided.
Adverse Reactions: Some cats may experience negative side effects of CBD, but this is rare.
Drug Interactions: CBD can potentially interact with certain medications. It's important to inform your veterinarian about all medications and supplements your cat is currently taking to avoid any potential interactions.
Individual Sensitivity: Cats may vary in their sensitivity to CBD, so closely monitor their response when introducing CBD, observing for any changes in behavior, appetite, or overall well-being.
It's important to remember that CBD should not be used as a substitute for proper veterinary care. If your cat has any underlying health conditions or behavioral issues, it's crucial to address them with a veterinarian who can develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
Is CBD FDA-Approved for Use in Cats?
As of May 2022, The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any human or animal products containing CBD, other than one prescription drug product to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy in children.
Unapproved drugs and/or CBD products supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA to determine whether they are effective for their intended use, what the proper dosage might be, how the products could interact with FDA-approved drugs, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns.
What are the Benefits of CBD for Cats?
Although there is limited scientific research specifically focused on CBD for cats, there is some anecdotal evidence and there have been some studies done on humans and other animals that suggest CBD may offer certain advantages.
Some of the potential benefit areas in cats may include:
Anxiety and stress reduction
Epilepsy and seizure management
Appetite stimulation and nausea relief
Adverse Reactions of CBD Use in Cats
Adverse reactions to CBD are relatively rare, but some potential symptoms that could occur are:
Sedation or drowsiness
Gastrointestinal upset (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
Changes in behavior (pacing, restlessness)
If you notice any unexpected or concerning symptoms after administering CBD to your cat, it's recommended to discontinue use and seek guidance from a veterinarian.
Should you Give Your Cat CBD for Pain?
When considering CBD for your cat's pain, consult with a veterinarian. They can assess your cat's condition, discuss potential risks and benefits of your treatment plan, and suggest alternative pain management or complementary therapies for a holistic approach to pain relief. Below are some areas we may see benefits from CBD use:
CBD has been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory properties; it may help reduce pain by stopping inflammatory responses and decreasing pain perception.
A study conducted in 2018 investigated the use of CBD in dogs with osteoarthritis. While the study focused on dogs, osteoarthritis is also a common condition in cats. The results showed that CBD oil reduced pain and improved mobility in the affected dogs.
Neuropathic pain, resulting from nerve damage, is another type of pain that cats may experience. Studies on rodents and humans have indicated that CBD may have potential in managing neuropathic pain.
Should You Give Your Cat CBD for Seizures?
While there is subjective evidence suggesting that CBD may help manage seizures in cats, scientific research on its effectiveness in treating feline epilepsy is lacking.
Remember that CBD should not replace veterinary care. Your veterinarian will consider all available treatment options, including medications designed for seizures in cats, to determine the best option(s) for their individual needs.
Should Your Give Your Cat CBD for Behavioral Issues?
The decision to give your cat CBD for behavioral issues should be made in consultation with a veterinarian who is familiar with your cat's specific situation. Some studies suggest that CBD may have potential in managing anxiety and stress in animals. However, more research is needed to understand its effectiveness and optimal dosage for feline behavioral issues.
How Much CBD Can Cats Have?
The appropriate dosage of CBD for cats can vary depending on factors such as their size, weight, individual response, and the specific condition being treated.
CBD products marketed for pets typically have lower concentrations of CBD compared to those intended for human use, which helps minimize the risk of adverse reactions. Individual sensitivities can vary, and it can affect some cats more than others.
Cats can potentially experience adverse effects if given excessive amounts of CBD, but the likelihood of an overdose is relatively low. If you suspect that your cat has accidentally ingested CBD, it is important to take the following steps:
Determine how much CBD your cat may have consumed and whether they are exhibiting any immediate symptoms or unusual behavior. Look for signs of distress or discomfort.
Reach out to your veterinarian immediately and inform them about the situation. Provide details about the amount of CBD your cat may have ingested and any observed symptoms. Your vet will be able to provide specific advice based on your cat's individual circumstances. If your veterinarian is unavailable, you can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 for more help identifying the level of concern for toxicity and help determining if your pet needs to go to the emergency room.
Do not attempt to induce vomiting. Induction of vomiting should always be done with direct veterinary supervision, especially in cats.
Follow any instructions provided by your veterinarian regarding supportive care. They may suggest monitoring your cat's vital signs, providing extra fluids, or administering specific treatments if necessary.
Featured Image: iStock.com/NiseriN
FDA Warns Four Companies for Illegally Selling CBD Products Intended for Use in Food-Producing Animals, US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Veterinary Medicine, May 2022.
Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, et al. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs, Frontiers in Veterinary Science, July 2018.
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