Is CBD Safe for Your Overstressed Cat?
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on February 6, 2019
Posted in Parent Help
CBD oil is an extremely popular product for humans right now. Derived from the cannabis hemp plant, CBD oil boasts benefits including reduced inflammation, lowered stress and anxiety and more for people. But lately, some experts have been wondering if CBD oil can be used on our pets, as well.
Cats with severe stress and anxiety may benefit from the calming effects of CBD oil. However, it’s important to be thoroughly informed about CBD, its uses and its effects before even considering giving it to your cat to help it calm down.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 100 compounds found in cannabis plants. It is not the same as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another common compound that causes psychoactive effects and results in the “high” feeling derived from marijuana. CBD oil is extracted from hemp and used in high concentrations as a tincture. The oil usually comes in a bottle with a dropper for easy dosage.
Cats (like humans) have an endocannabinoid system with receptors located throughout the body. This system helps regulate important components of your cat’s daily life like pain, mood and sleep. Typically, internally produced stimulants can influence these receptors, but CBD oil can also influence them to relieve stress, improve mood and reduce pain.
One of the most common ways CBD oil is used for cats is to calm overstressed or anxious animals down. It may be a natural alternative to anxiety medication prescribed by a vet. CBD oil could be used to help calm a cat with separation anxiety, a fear of traveling or a fear of loud noises or strangers. Because long-term stress and anxiety can have adverse effects on your cat’s health, using CBD oil to promote feelings of calm may help prevent life-long struggles and health conditions.
It is also believed to improve comfort and reduce pain and feelings of anxiety or fear in pets. It is not a cure for any illnesses or medical conditions, but it may be able to help manage chronic conditions.
Is it safe?
Despite the benefits, the major question remains: is CBD oil safe for cats? It’s difficult to say for certain because there have not been studies that explore the long-term effects of CBD oil on pets. However, many holistic veterinarians believe that CBD oil can benefit cats if it is dosed and administered properly. If used in this way, CBD oil is generally safe.
That being said, most CBD products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or other similar government agencies, meaning they have not been tested and determined “safe” in absolutes.
You should never give CBD oil to your cat without your veterinarian’s consent. CBD oil must be dosed properly for your cat, otherwise it can have adverse effects including sedation and gastrointestinal problems. Cats who have been overdosed may appear lethargic or sleepy—however, this can generally be rectified by giving smaller doses in the future.
What to do if you’re considering CDB oil for your cat
Many pet parents are willing to give CBD oil a try after speaking with their veterinarian. If you are considering giving your cat CBD oil, keep these things in mind first:
- Ensure reliable sourcing and ingredients: Make sure your CBD oil is derived from the hemp plant, not marijuana. Both plants fall under the cannabis plant family umbrella, but marijuana plants have THC that could make your cat sick. Additionally, make sure the hemp is grown naturally without pesticides and that the products contain no harmful ingredients.
- Research the company: Before you buy, always do research on the company, read reviews and gauge whether the company is responsible before buying its products. Ensure the company can provide a certificate of analysis that shows it has been lab-tested and dictates how much CBD and THC are in the products. Because CBD is not regulated everywhere, you need to make sure you’re buying from a reputable brand.
- Keep an eye out for THC: Your pet should not take CBD oil that contains THC. THC is a psychoactive compound and can cause your cat to endure psychological and physical distress because of the “high” feeling THC can create.
- Know the appropriate dosage: Since cats are so small, they only need a tiny amount of CBD oil compared to humans. A maximum of 1-5mg per day is usually recommended, though most experts will say to start with much smaller doses than that and work up over time to make sure your cat responds appropriately.
Natural alternatives to CBD
If you’re still on the fence about using CBD oil on your cat, there are other natural methods and products for calming a stressed pet you can try.
Natural supplements like Stress Gold for High Stress Situations in Cats or Calming Care for Cat Anxiety and Stress are made from natural herbs and flowers and support the nervous system of your pet to promote feelings of calm and reduce anxiety. These supplements can be administered as-needed or daily for cats that need long-term calming care.
Environmental changes may also help minimize your cat’s stress. If the house is constantly loud or filled with jarring noises, try to minimize them or keep your cat away from them. Provide your cat with a space to hide and feel safe on its own. Keep small children who do not know how to handle animals with care away from your scared cat.
Whether you decide to use CBD oil on your cat or another natural calming method, make sure to do your research and stay informed so you don’t do your cat more harm than good.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan