CBD Oil For Cats: What It Is & How To Use It

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CBD oil for cats cat sniffing cannabis leaf

CBD has become a hot topic in both the human and pet health spaces.

With people claiming that CBD oil cures almost any health ailment from cancer to arthritis, many cat owners are turning to CBD oil to treat a variety of health conditions in their cats.

What Exactly Is Cbd Oil And Is Cbd Safe For Cats?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is one of the over 100 cannabinoid compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant, (also known as marijuana, cannabis or hemp).

In contrast to the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is not psychoactive and will not result in a “high” when consumed by humans or animals.

Commercial products made for pets contain CBD in an oil tincture and are generally measured out with a dropper. The extracted CBD may be mixed into a variety of oils, including coconut, salmon, avocado, and palm oil.

Though studies on the safety of CBD for cats haven’t been extensive, it does appear to be safe for cats.

CBD For Cats: Health Benefits

Your cat’s back legs are packed with muscle. That strength helps propel them forward with each stride.

How does CBD work and how can it help your cat?

In people and pets, the endocannabinoid system of the brain is made up of receptors that bind compounds of the cannabis plant, including THC and CBD. This system is responsible for influencing many things, including pain and mood.

CBD oil has been used as a treatment for many different health issues in cats.

It’s important to understand that very little research has been done to study the effectiveness of CBD in cats and dogs, so any purposed health claims are extrapolated from its use in humans or are anecdotal. However, some therapeutic properties of CBD have been demonstrated.

Some of the benefits of CBD oil include anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties and is also used to combat pain and treat seizures.

Although much is still being learned, CBD is commonly used to treat a full spectrum of health conditions in cats, including the following:

CBD For Cats With Anxiety

A common use for CBD oil in cats is to treat anxiety and fear. CBD appears to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and fear in dogs and cats, but no studies have been published regarding this use, so these claims are anecdotal.

CBD For Cat Seizures

Brown tabby cat with blue eyes cat seizures

CBD has been investigated as a treatment for epilepsy and seizures in people and dogs. A 2019 clinical trial in dogs showed promise, with 89% of study dogs that got CBD during the trial showing a reduction in seizure frequency.

CBD For Cats In Pain

Cats that are in pain might bite, even if they are usually very docile.

One of the most common uses of CBD oil in cats (as well as dogs and humans) is for the treatment of pain and inflammation.

According to some studies, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. No studies have specifically been conducted on cats regarding CBD and pain management. However, anecdotal evidence exists to suggest CBD may help cats with pain, such as those with osteoarthritis.

CBD Oil For Cats With Cancer

Cancer in Cats Feature

Some people claim that CBD can slow or stop the growth of cancer cells in the body. For cats, there are no studies demonstrating this to be true.

However, some holistic veterinarians have observed anecdotal evidence that CBD may help cats with cancer, either by slowing cancer growth, increasing survival time, stimulating appetite, or increasing the cat’s overall quality of life and feeling of well-being.

CBD For Cats With Kidney Disease

why cats drink a lot of water

Cats start drinking large quantities of water for a wide range of reasons, including a dry diet, kidney disease, diabetes, and more.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that CBD oil treats kidney disease in cats. However, CBD might help cats with kidney disease by alleviating uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea. Always consult with your veterinarian before giving your cat any supplement, including CBD oil.

CBD Oil Dosage For Cats

Some general guidelines for dosage have been published by various sources. Many holistic veterinarians recommend a dosage between 0.1 milligram per kilogram of body weight and 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight.

Depending on the type of ailment you’re seeking to address, you might start with a smaller or larger dose. The ideal dosage might require some trial and error, which is why it’s so important to work closely with a holistic veterinarian.

CBD Oil Side Effects

Formal research on CBD, especially regarding CBD use in cats, is still in its infancy. If you are using CBD for your cat and your cat develops any unwelcome side effects, discontinue the CBD and seek advice from your veterinarian.

In general, serious side effects from CBD in cats seem to be uncommon.

However, some side effects of CBD use seen in cats include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Gastrointestinal upset (nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)
  • Sedation or excessive sleepiness
  • Allergic reaction

THC And CBD Are Not The Same

It is important to note that any CBD products considered for use in pets must be sourced from the hemp plant and not the marijuana plant.

Cannabis plants categorized as hemp contain less than .3% THC, the compound that provides a high. Never give your pet marijuana or any products that contain THC. Products that contain THC are not the same as CBD and are not safe to give your cat.

Choosing The Right CBD Oil For Your Cat

Person in lab coat holding CBD oil dropper

Choose a high-quality product with a guaranteed concentration of CBD. With so much irregularity in the market, you may need to ask a veterinarian to help you choose the right product.

CBD products are largely unregulated, especially in the United States. There are many products on the market sold for both humans and animals, but the amounts of CBD, as well as other active and inactive ingredients, are extremely varied.

Some products contain high levels of CBD and some might contain lower levels. This can affect the dosage amount.

It’s important to choose a high-quality CBD product. If you are interested in giving CBD oil to your cat, it’s important that you work with a veterinarian for guidance, especially regarding dosing. To find a holistic veterinarian, check out the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association’s vet finder.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always talk to your veterinarian about questions you may have regarding your pet’s medical condition. Do not delay seeking professional veterinary advice because of something read on the internet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Cbd Safe For Cats?

Very little is known about the efficacy or safety of CBD oil in pets, especially in cats. Although a little research has been conducted, almost all of it has been done on dogs, not cats.

Since dogs and cats metabolize drugs and compounds very differently, more research in cats is vital to understanding how CBD works for cats and whether cats may experience adverse side effects.

A 2019 study on dogs and cats showed that although the use of CBD seems to be safe for dogs, cats seem to absorb or eliminate CBD differently than dogs. More research in cats is needed to determine how safe and effective CBD is for cats.

Will CBD Oil Make My Cat High?

As long as you choose a CBD or hemp oil that is less than 0.3% THC, the oil will not make your cat high.

CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, the component in cannabis that gives people and pets a high. However, most, if not all, CBD products on the market—especially those sold in the United States—contain less than 0.3% THC.

To be classified as “industrial hemp” and therefore legal in the eyes of the U.S. federal government, CBD products must contain less than 0.3% THC. CBD products containing less than .3% THC will not make your cat high, although some cats become sleepy or slightly sedated when taking CBD.

It's important to note that hemp or hempseed oils are different from CBD oil. Hempseed oil, sometimes simply called "hemp oil", is made from hemp seeds and does not contain CBD.

However, products labeled CBD hemp oil do contain CBD and use hemp oil as the carrier oil. It's important to pay close attention to the label to make sure you're getting a safe, effective product.

Can I Give My Cat CBD?

Whether it’s safe or beneficial for you to give your cat CBD oil is a question that is best posed to a veterinarian.

All cats are individuals and have specific health conditions. A holistic veterinarian who has experience with CBD can discuss safety concerns and effective dosing. If you need help finding a holistic veterinarian, visit the website for the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association’s to see their vet finder.

Is It Legal To Give My Cat CBD?

CBD is legal in most European countries. In the United States, the laws regarding cannabis products vary wildly from state to state, and in many cases, state laws do not align with federal laws.

However, in the United States, any CBD product that contains less than .3% THC is legal in all 50 states. In the U.S., the laws pertaining to veterinarians prescribing cannabis products for their patients, or counseling their clients about the use of cannabis products, including CBD products, vary from state to state.

In some states, veterinarians are not permitted to even discuss the medical use of CBD with their clients. In other states, veterinarians may only discuss the use of cannabis products, including CBD products, if the client broaches the subject first.

Are Cats Allergic To CBD?

Cats can be allergic to almost any substance, so it’s possible for a cat to be allergic to CBD. If you see any signs of an allergic reaction or any other adverse reaction (facial swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, seizures or collapse), discontinue CBD use and call a veterinarian immediately.

Can A Cat Take Steroids With CBD?

Although CBD is “natural,” it does have the potential to react with certain medications. If your cat is taking veterinary prescribed steroid medications like prednisone, do not use CBD oil for your cat.

Stopping steroid medications suddenly can cause serious adverse effects, so don’t stop giving your cat’s steroids so you can give CBD instead. Always consult with your veterinarian before starting or discontinuing any medications or supplements.

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About Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown is a senior content editor on the cats.com editorial team. She also writes on all pet and veterinary topics, including general health and care, nutrition, grooming, behavior, training, veterinary and health topics, rescue and animal welfare, lifestyle, and the human-animal bond. Jackie is the former editor of numerous pet magazines and is a regular contributor to pet magazines and websites.