Taking CBD For Cats: What All Cat Owners Should Know
CBD oil has boomed in popularity over the last couple of years. It earned this popularity due to encouraging research that shows it could help people in various ways, such as relieving pain, reducing anxiety, improving sleep and limiting seizures. While CBD (short for cannabidiol) has become commonly used by people, you may be surprised that your cat can also benefit from CBD.
Understanding How CBD Works for Cats
CBD is one of over 85 natural chemicals (called cannabinoids) found in hemp plants. A 2013 article published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association¹ featured anecdotal evidence from pet owners and veterinary professionals of the beneficial effects of cannabinoids in cats and other household pets.
In cats, as it does for humans and other mammals, CBD engages with receptors throughout the body to produce different effects. These receptors are part of a larger network in the brain and body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS has been the subject of many medical and scientific studies over the last two decades. This research found that CBD, and other cannabinoids, are effective at interacting with the ECS receptors because the chemicals have a similar structure to endocannabinoids that are produced naturally by the animal’s body.
These receptors help regulate messages that get transmitted to the brain and throughout the body. When CBD interacts with a receptor, studies show it can reduce the perception of pain, reduce anxiety or stress hormones, or tell the immune system to stop sending cytokines—the protein that creates inflammation. Your cat may be a tiny fraction of your size and walk on all fours, but all mammals have endocannabinoid systems.
Benefits of CBD for Cats
CBD may be able to provide benefits for cats suffering from chronic conditions or situational discomfort. Some situations can stress out your feline family member and cause problems like excessive shedding, aggression, or lack of appetite. For these issues, pet CBD products could be a way to promote relaxation in stressful situations, which can help stave off unhealthy and unpleasant symptoms.
Cats may be able to enjoy some of the same health benefits of CBD as humans, such as:
- Soothing gastrointestinal issues – feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). This disease causes chronic diarrhea and vomiting² in cats, due to inflammation in the digestive tract.
- Managing seizures
- Reducing anxiety – which could be useful for situations like car trips, or for everyday management of “nervous” pets.
Here are some life stressors³ in which CBD for cats could come in handy, according to the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine:
- Traveling by car, train, or plane
- Visiting the veterinarian
- Adding a new pet to the household
- Bringing home a new baby
- Moving to a new home
- Having guests over
- Loss of a household member (human or animal)
The Best Ways to Give CBD to Cats
For humans, the most common way to take CBD oil is by holding the oil under the tongue for a minute. But, let’s be honest, this method would not work with your cat, no matter how agreeable and cooperative they are. So how exactly do you get little ‘Mittens’ to take CBD?
CBD for cats is available in a few different forms, like CBD capsules, CBD pet treats, and CBD oil (which can be given orally or topically). Whichever product you use, pay attention to the amount of CBD per serving.
So, how much CBD should you give your cat?” Dosing varies based on your cat’s size and the specific health benefits desired. Holistic veterinarian, Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, generally recommends a range between 0.1 and 3 mg of CBD twice a day, and it’s best to start on the low end of the range.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
All animals have an endocannabinoid system similar to humans, making it safe and beneficial for all types of pets to try CBD. Unpleasant side effects are rare for cats taking CBD (as they are for humans). Typically, if there are any side effects they are minimal, such as a stimulated appetite and changes in sleep or energy. Since all cats are unique it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your cat after using CBD for the first few times.
To make sure you’re giving your cat a safe and healthy product, stick to trustworthy CBD companies. A big step towards offering trusted CBD products is a company that uses and shares third-party testing data on its products. This testing data should indicate the amount of CBD in your product, the amount of THC, and any other elements that may be present. Products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC⁴ are considered safe and legal in the United States, and according to Dr. Krause they won’t make your cat high.