As a cat lover, you always want to see your feline friend looking happy, energetic, and comfortable. But if you’ve been noticing signs of discomfort or stress in your cat, you may wonder if CBD could be a natural way to support your cat’s wellbeing.
People turn to CBD for various potential health benefits, including gut health, joint health, tension relief, and much more. Could it have the same effect on cats? More research needs to be done, but so far, the science looks promising.1
We’ve created this guide to answer all your questions about how CBD affects cats, what the science shows, and whether CBD may be helpful for your little mouser.
Why Does CBD Affect Cats?
To understand how CBD works in cats, we’ll need a quick primer on the science of CBD.
CBD is similar to naturally produced molecules in most vertebrates and invertebrates called endocannabinoids.2 These endocannabinoids interact with a system of receptors found throughout our bodies and brains, known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
CBD is what’s known as a phytocannabinoid. Because phytocannabinoids are so similar to our cats’ endocannabinoids, they can also interact with the ECS.
Why Is the ECS Important?
The ECS regulates vital bodily functions from head to toe, including:2
- Gut health
- Immune system
- Pain regulation
The ECS is a crucial piece of how animal bodies work. This is why CBD also appears to impact bodily functions significantly. While research is still ongoing, many scientific studies are investigating CBD benefits for an array of health issues.
Some of the areas where the use of CBD is being studied include:3
- Managing discomfort
- Supporting joint health
- Supporting gut health
- Easing tension and stress
- Supporting the immune system
Could CBD Help Your Cat? 4 Possible Benefits
While research on how CBD affects cats is still in its early stages, anecdotal data from pet owners shows that many are trying CBD for a range of health conditions in their companion animals.4
In a survey of 632 pet owners conducted by the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association, most pet owners reported positive experiences using CBD for dog anxiety, cat anxiety, stress, joint stiffness, and digestive upset.
Let’s look at some of the conditions veterinarians and pet owners believe CBD can help with.
#1 Nervousness and Stress Relief
Stress and anxiety are of the most common reasons pet owners give for trying CBD with their pets.4 This includes fear caused by loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms and travel-induced stress.
Pet owners report that they find CBD to be helpful for a variety of stress-related issues, such as:4
- Behavioral issues
- Nervousness when left alone (separation anxiety)
- Problems with sleep patterns and promoting restful sleep
#2 Joint Health and Joint Discomfort
Easing joint stiffness and improving mobility is another prevalent reason pet owners give for using CBD for pets. Many pet parents surveyed report seeing heightened activity levels and mobility while using CBD.4
Although more research on cats is needed, research on dogs seems to support the use of CBD for joint health. One study found that a twice-daily helping of CBD appeared to lessen discomfort and heighten activity levels in dogs with osteoarthritis.5
#3 Gut Health
The ECS is essential to the digestive system and motility, and it’s possible that CBD may help support digestive health in humans and other animals.2
It may also help promote an appetite for picky eaters, a problem that’s especially frequent in senior cats. Pet owners also report that it may help with stomach discomfort.4
#4 Overall Health and Wellbeing
Especially as pets age and begin to slow down, many pet owners turn to CBD to potentially support their senior pet’s overall health, comfort, and quality of life.4
Is CBD Safe and Legal?
There is a lot of confusion around CBD, cannabis, and marijuana, so let’s set the record straight:
CBD is derived from plants in the cannabis family. And yes—marijuana is another well-known variety of the cannabis plant. However, CBD extracted from the hemp plant does not contain enough of the active ingredient (THC) that’s in marijuana to create any psychoactive effects.6
The bottom line:
- Hemp CBD can be used for its health effects without any worries about intoxication
- Federal law recognizes CBD derived from industrial hemp as distinct from recreational cannabis6
- CBD products are legal to buy and sell as long as they are below 0.3% THC
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
Research is still in its early stages on pets, especially cats. However, CBD appears to be safe and well-tolerated in animals, with minimal side effects. One study found that oral CBD administered every 12 hours for 12 weeks did not produce any concerning changes in the blood chemistry of healthy cats.7
However, every cat is an individual, so cat owners should always pay close attention to their cat’s behavior when giving any new supplement. Watch for:
- Gastric distress such as vomiting
- Loose stools
- Lethargy or other changes in behavior
If you see any concerning side effects, stop giving your cat CBD. CBD doesn’t appear to have a long half-life in cats, so any adverse effects should clear up quickly when you discontinue the CBD.7
That said, when giving CBD to your cat, consider the following safety precautions:
- Double-check that your CBD oil for cats is derived from hemp plants and that the manufacturer guarantees that it contains only trace amounts of THC
- Don’t give your cat any product that contains a higher concentration of THC than 0.3%
- Only buy from reputable manufacturers that have strict quality control measures
- Look for manufacturers that conduct independent lab testing to ensure their products contain the amount of CBD claimed8
How to Use CBD for Your Cat
To determine how much CBD to give your cat, always follow the guidelines on the label of the product you’re using.
Vets who have studied the use of CBD in pets recommend the “start low and go slow” approach.9 Start on the lower end and up the CBD dosage every 5 to 7 days as you observe how your cat responds. This allows you to find the ideal amount of CBD to give your pet while minimizing any possible chance of negative effects.
Forms of CBD for Cats
There are some differences between pet CBD and human CBD. CBD for cats is usually given in oil form. It may come in a bottle with a dropper or in capsules. Capsules may be broken open to mix into food or water.
CBD cat treats and soft chews are also on the market. CBD treats may pass through the system more quickly than oil, although more research into this is needed.7
When choosing your product, keep these points in mind:
- CBD oils and capsules for pets are usually available in higher or lower concentrations so that you can try different strengths depending on your cat’s health and needs
- Products labeled “hemp oil” or “hemp seed oil” are not the same as CBD oil and do not contain CBD
Subtle Signs of Cat Discomfort To Watch For
Sometimes it’s hard to know if your cat is feeling well. Cats are naturally adapted to cover up signs of pain and illness to hide weakness from larger predators in the wild.16
If you observe any of these signs in your cat, they could be signals that your cat isn’t feeling her best:
- Hissing or growling
- Reduced appetite
- Poor grooming habits and greasy fur
When to See Your Veterinarian
Suppose your cat is vomiting, lethargic, or seems to be in pain or distress. In that case, it’s important to consult your veterinarian before attempting to treat it on your own with any supplement. Sudden weight loss or any sudden change in health is also something you should discuss with your vet.
Should You Ask Your Vet About CBD?
It’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before trying any new regimen for your pet, and CBD is no exception. A 2019 survey of veterinarians found that 82% of vets believe that CBD may be beneficial for animals, but many are hesitant to discuss CBD products with pet owners unless the pet owner asks about it.11
In some states, your vet is not legally permitted to discuss pet CBD as a treatment option—they’ll let you know if this is the case in your state.
Take Care of Your Cat With Canna-Pet
The aging process, stress, and other health concerns all take a toll on your cat. It’s important to find a simple, at-home solution to support the health and comfort of your beloved pets for as long as possible.
At Canna-Pet, we know how much you care about giving your littlest family members the best care and quality health support. That’s why we hold our CBD for cats to the highest standards. We conduct ongoing safety and quality testing and use only organic hemp to extract our CBD oils.
Let’s work together to keep our furry friends pouncing and purring for years to come.
- Innovative Veterinary Care. CBD for Cats and Dogs. https://ivcjournal.com/cbd/
- Silver, R.J. The Endocannabinoid System of Animals. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090686
- Harvard Health Publishing. The Endocannabinoid System: Essential and Mysterious. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-endocannabinoid-system-essential-and-mysterious-202108112569
- American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Consumers’ Perceptions Of Hemp Products For Animals. https://www.ahvma.org/wp-content/uploads/AHVMA-2016-V42-Hemp-Article.pdf
- Frontiers in Veterinary Science. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30083539/
- Brookings Institute. The Farm Bill, Hemp Legalization and the Status of CBD: An Explainer. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/
- Animals. Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100832
- American Medical Association. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2017.11909
- American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Cannabis in Veterinary Medicine: A Systematic Review. https://www.ahvma.org/wp-content/uploads/Cannabis-in-Veterinary-Medicine-A-Critical-Review-Vol-61_LR-3.pdf
- Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. How Can I Tell If My Cat is Sick. https://spca.bc.ca/faqs/cat-sick/
- Frontiers in Veterinary Science. US Veterinarians’ Knowledge, Experience, and Perception Regarding the Use of Cannabidiol for Canine Medical Conditions. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00338/full