Whether they’re a scrappy former stray or a purebred beauty, a cat makes a wonderful friend and companion. Just like humans, though, cats get sick and feel aches and pains as they age. But are hemp-derived products labeled as “CBD for cats” a good option to help these kinds of issues? Is CBD even safe for cats? Let’s dig in.
It makes sense for pet parents to be interested in giving their kitties CBD (cannabidiol) to help them feel better. But, conscientious cat lovers also want to know whether CBD is safe and effective for their furry friend.
I’m sad to say that there haven’t been any veterinary studies about CBD for diseases in cats so far. However, I can tell you that CBD appears to be safe for most cats. Plus, there’s a lot you can do to make sure you’re giving the best quality and dose for your cat’s needs.
Is CBD for Cats a Thing? Why Do People Give Cats CBD?
Our beloved little fluffballs (mine included!) suffer from many of the same problems that lead humans to try CBD. And many pet owners are making the connection.
In a recent survey published by the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (JAHVMA for short), around 26% of cat owners reported giving CBD products to their pet. Eighty-two percent said they give CBD to help with an illness diagnosed by their veterinarian. The most common conditions were cancer-related pain, anxiety, and arthritis.
So, our fellow cat people use CBD to supplement veterinary treatment for a variety of health concerns. But an owner survey isn’t the same as a trial under controlled conditions. What else (research-wise) is out there?
Research on CBD in Cats: Still Learning
As I said earlier, there haven’t been any trials testing the effectiveness of CBD for feline illnesses yet. If you take your cat to a University veterinary hospital, ask them to get on it!
Your veterinarian may have some experience incorporating CBD for his or her cat patients, though. Asking about the results they’ve seen is a great way to get more information about CBD for your cat’s specific health concerns.
Also Read: What is Nano CBD and is it even real?
A Vet Motto: Cats Are Not Small Dogs
Pet owners might be thinking, “well, there is some research showing that CBD is effective for pain in dogs, so it’ll be the same for cats, right?” Not necessarily!
A favorite saying of my veterinary school professors was, “cats are not small dogs.” In particular, cats metabolize medications and process nutrients differently than dogs and people. Just because something works for dogs doesn’t mean the same will be true for cats.
The Jury’s Still Out
There are other reasons to believe that it might help cats, however. Like humans, cats express many of the chemical cannabinoid receptors responsible for some of CBD’s beneficial effects. These include the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 and the pain-related receptor TRPV1.
So, the evidence for CBD’s effectiveness in cats is still anecdotal. Is it at least safe to try while the research catches up?
It’s important to talk to your veterinarian before starting CBD for any pet. Still, veterinary studies show that, yes, CBD is safe for most cats.
The Safety of CBD Oil for Cats
What does the research say about CBD’s safety in cats? A recent study at Cornell University monitored healthy dogs and felines that were given CBD over twelve weeks.
Fortunately, no significant problems were reported for cats. Uncommon side effects included vomiting, but there were no changes in eating or bathroom habits. The dose used was relatively low, though, so more research will be needed.
Interestingly, felines also seemed to process CBD differently than dogs. Cats had lower blood levels of CBD than dogs after receiving the same dose (scaled for their weight, of course). The researchers state that this finding may be relevant for future CBD dose standards in felines.
How to Buy CBD for Your Cat
Since CBD products are not currently regulated by the FDA, finding a safe, reliable product for your cat can be challenging. Here are a few tips for identifying appropriate, high-quality products:
- Buy organic, hemp-derived CBD to avoid pesticides and THC concentrations above the legal limit of 0.3%
- Look for products that are third-party tested and carry a certificate of analysis (COA) to ensure content and quality
- Check for the National Animal Supplement Council seal
- Only purchase CBD products labeled for pets to avoid ingredients toxic for cats
But Will My Veterinarian Judge Me?
As always, I strongly recommend discussing CBD with your vet before starting it or changing doses. However, I’ve heard some cat owners worry that their veterinarian will react negatively.
The American Veterinary Medical Association only recently began providing CBD resources for veterinarians, so some are still wary. But the evidence says that vets are generally open to discussing CBD as an option.
Veterinarians are Increasingly CBD-Positive
Remember that JAHVMA survey about cat owners and CBD? The researchers also asked whether respondents talked to their veterinarian about CBD and, if so, how their vet responded. For pet owners who spoke to their vet about CBD, 62% received positive responses.
If you’re interested in talking to a vet with expertise in CBD and other alternative therapies, check out the VetFinder tool from the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.
Cannabidiol (aka CBD) is gaining popularity with pet owners when it comes to concerns like pain and anxiety. And a lot more work is needed to understand how cats process and respond to CBD. But, early studies say that CBD is safe to try, and your veterinarian will probably be happy to discuss options for your feline friend.
Dr. Nicole Wanner is a veterinarian and published scientific researcher. She currently studies the effects of CBD on human and animal health as a Ph.D. candidate and writes articles to help pet parents stay up to date on the latest veterinary research. She shares her home with Sylvie and Nemo, a brother and sister pair of former barn kittens she adopted with her partner Evan in 2014.