If you have seen the stories about cannabidiol (CBD) being used to treat dogs, you may be wondering whether cats can benefit from it, too. The answer: yes! Our other favorite four-legged friends can enjoy the wonders of non-intoxicating CBD in similar ways to humans and dogs. Read on to find out how!
CBD has usurped THC in recent times as the most interesting compound in cannabis. Both CBD and THC are categorized as cannabinoids and can only be found in marijuana. Researchers have discovered in excess of 100 cannabinoids since the 1960s. THC has always been held back by its hallucinogenic properties – while recreational users actively seek these out, most medicinal users class them as a side effect. However, CBD is non-intoxicating, non-psychoactive and still a therapeutic gem. You won’t get high, and your cat won’t either!
CBD products made using industrial hemp are legal all over the United States. These high-CBD, low-THC creams, oils, edibles and more can be purchased online or in health stores and pharmacies. The 2014 Farm Bill provided clarification on what constitutes as “hemp,” determining it to be Cannabis Sativa L. plants with no more than 0.3 percent THC.
How CBD is being used to help cats
Endocannabinoid systems (ECS) are present in cats, and work just like they do in humans, modulating appetite, mood, sleep patterns and immune system function. High concentrations of cannabinoid receptors are found in the brain, nerves and spinal cords. The body products chemicals which work with these receptors, known as endocannabinoids – 2-AG and anandamide are examples of endocannabinoids. Therefore, when you or your feline friend takes CBD, they aren’t doing anything untoward to the body. Instead, the compound acts as a supplement or top-up for the ECS.
We have used supplements to get our vitamin and mineral intake up for generations, and as the evidence of how important a well-functioning ECS is grows, CBD supplements are likely to become more popular.
Unfortunately, there are limited scientific studies showing the detailed impact CBD has on cats, but owners are sharing their incredible stories on how the alternative treatment has dramatically improved their cat’s quality of life and cut down on veterinary bills in the process.
CBD is particularly helpful to cats in the latter stages of life. Cats who beat their life expectancies can develop terminal illnesses including cancer in their final years. Relieving pain and discomfort makes all the difference.
Arthritis: the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can reduce arthritis pain for cats as well as humans. Playfulness and improved agility are often reported by owners who have treated their pet’s arthritis with CBD.
Asthma: CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects take center stage again when medicating asthma. Reducing inflammation helps to limit asthma attacks among cats.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): CBD treats symptoms of diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and weight loss that are caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Chronic Upper Respiratory Infections: we know that the ECS regulates the body’s immune system, and therefore CBD gives cats the tools to tackle viral infections.
Pancreatitis: many cats with irritable bowel syndrome also end up with pancreatitis, another inflammatory condition. A low-fat diet is beneficial for cats with pancreatitis, and a daily dose of CBD makes life more comfortable for them too.
Epileptic seizures: cats are aided by CBD in much the same way that humans are. Cannabidiol’s extraordinary knack of treating unusual, dangerous types of epilepsy is as relevant for cats as anybody. CBD helps make seizures both less threatening and less frequent.
Skin complaints: applying CBD oil or cream topically reduces irritation and itchiness in cats. The skin contains cannabinoid receptors, hence why topical products work.
CBD is known to rejuvenate cats with low energy and boost their appetite levels. It can help to reduce general anxiety and anxiety caused by fireworks, strangers and other unfamiliar circumstances.
These are, ultimately, arguments made on anecdotes, but the number of them and the similarity in stories has given them plenty of weight. Before treating your cat with CBD, it’s best to speak with your vet first as it may interfere with other medication. Preferably consult an expert knowledgeable about CBD, or you may be given biased, incomplete advice. Some doctors and vets are so sceptical of cannabis treatments that they haven’t researched it enough to offer meaningful suggestions – this applies to humans as much as cats.
Finding the right CBD dosage for your cat
Administering the correct dosage of CBD is essential, just as it isin humans. The advice of Dr Angie Krause, DVM, a holistic vet, is certainly worth considering. She has offered dosage recommendations for a list of conditions.
Arthritis: 0.5mg CBD per kg of pet weight (0.5mg/kg), twice daily
Asthma: 0.5mg/kg CBD twice a day
Chronic Upper Respiratory Infections: 5mg/kg CBD twice a day
Inflammatory Bowel Disease: 0.2mg/kg CBD twice a day
Pancreatitis: Start with 0.1mg/kg CBD twice daily, steadily upping dosage to maximum 0.5mg/kg twice daily
Seizures: Begin with twice daily 0.5mg/kg CBD dose, steadily upping as required. May need up to 3mg/kg to effectively treat seizures
Unlike in humans, the effects of CBD in cats can take a bit longer to show. Give a CBD treatment plan at least a fortnight to a month before deciding whether it’s helping your cat. Dosage experimentation also helps to yield results.
It’s fine to use CBD oil intended for humans to treat your cats, however some company have developed CBD oil products designed for pets. No matter what CBD oil you buy, check that your purchasing a known brand with third-party lab test results to confirm the quality, safety and potency of the product. For those living in legalized states, make sure the oil you buy is THC-free.
Does CBD oil have any side effects?
It’s possible that your cat may be somewhat sedated after being administered CBD. This can also happen with humans, and while not a big concern, you may wish to lower the dosage slightly. Endocannabinoid chemistry varies in all cats as it does all humans – there’s no way of knowing exactly how your pet will respond to a dose. However, most “side effects” that pet owners experience with CBD are positive ones! Many have reported that they have tried to treat one ailment with CBD and have ended up solving several. This is quite believable considering what we know about the complexity of the endocannabinoid system.
No matter what anybody says, you should never give actual cannabis to your cat or cannabis products with high percentages of THC. Nor should you blow smoke at them or subject them to a hotbox. Pets aren’t as equipped to cope with THC like humans are, due to the large concentrations of CB1 receptors in their brains. Pets can become anxious and paranoid from THC consumption, and since they cannot communicate with us, there’s no true way of us knowing the upset we’re causing. So just don’t do it.
On the flip side, CBD is immensely helpful for cats, as this article has hopefully demonstrated. For pet owners wanting a natural solution to their pet’s pain and discomfort, it’s well worth looking into CBD treatment. With sensible use, it’s harmless and a humane course of action.