Greetings feline fanciers! Skye Blake here, continuing the trail toward understanding CBD for cats.
Start the trail at “CBD Oil for Cats – What Is It? Does It Work?” for a more complete picture of CBD, marijuana and your fabulous feline friend!
It can make the difference between a happy cat and a very sick one!
The information here is for general knowledge… always see your vet with questions about your cat’s individual needs.
- Who Is Skye Blake?
- Before You Buy Any CBD Products
- Is CBD Safe for Cats?
- Possible Addiction
- Things to Know About CBD Products
- Types of CBD Products for Cats
- All CBD Products Should…
- Chews & Treats
- Topical Creams
- Oils (Tinctures)
- List of Sources
Who Is Skye Blake?
Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, is a curious cat researcher (not a veterinarian) who sniffs out expert, reliable sources about cats, studies their information, then passes it on to you!
Sometimes there’s not enough evidence for easy answers, so Skye gives you all sides, explains the situation as thoroughly and clearly as possible, and links you to experts on each page.
All sources are given at the bottom of each page so you can do more snooping…
Before You Buy Any CBD Products
Before you think “My cat’s always anxious… I’ll try some CBD”, get your nervous nelly to the vet for a thorough exam and diagnosis.
Know what you’re dealing with before using any form of CBD!
Discuss with your vet what medications might help your cat’s particular condition.
If your cat is on other medications review them with your vet and find out if CBD would interfere with any of them.
If your vet is uncertain or can’t discuss CBD with you, check with a pharmacist.
CBD can inhibit the effectiveness of certain enzymes, particularly drugs for liver problems.
Once you have a diagnosis and you believe CBD is something worth trying for your cat, your next step is to decide what type of product is best.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
Safety is an ongoing question with CBD products because they’re use is so new for animals. It’s important for your feline friend, right?
Since it’s been studied with people and lab animals, assumptions are made that similar benefits, side effects, and long-term effects are the same for cats.
Are these assumptions correct?
There are stories of cats responding well in specific situations, but only time and clinical studies will tell for sure.
Some people claim you can’t overdose a cat on CBD since any excess is eliminated in waste.
But scientific evidence shows that cats don’t absorb or process CBD as quickly as dogs or humans.
This means a cat’s body takes time to eliminate toxins.
The longer it takes, the more chance there is of toxins absorbing into the bloodstream and poisoning the cat.
While the evidence is not yet in about overdoses, it pays to be careful with cats and avoid giving too much.
CBD Side Effects
Currently, there are no long-term studies or anecdotal evidence of serious side effects when using the proper dosage of CBD oil for cats.
Side effects can happen when you give a cat too much CBD at one time.
Fortunately, these effects should wear off in a few hours, but every cat is individual, so watch your buddy closely.
Avoid side effects by starting with small doses and gradually adding more over a few days to give your cat’s body time to adjust.
Possible side effects are…
- behavior changes
- appetite/weight changes
- lower blood pressure
- dry mouth
CBD oil is bitter, and we cats don’t like things bitter… yuck! It’ll come right back up.
The good news is there are products with bacon, chicken, salmon, liver, and other flavors… yummy!
Always be alert when using any medication for signs your cat may having a negative reaction to it.
Uh oh, can my cat get addicted to CBD? Probably not.
CBD doesn’t have more than 0.3% THC so it’s not addictive in people.
Studies in humans show it has the same effect as a placebo and can actually help alleviate withdrawal symptoms in addicts.
We can assume from this that the same placebo effect is true for cats and CBD isn’t physically addictive, but this hasn’t yet been scientifically studied or proven.
Things to Know About CBD Products
Compare prices but remember you get what you pay for with CBD, especially the oils.
Cheaper products often have less CBD than they say they have, along with impurities that can hurt your cat.
Review the Certificate of Analysis to see what’s in the product you’re using.
I found no specific info about the effects of CBD on kittens, pregnant or lactating cats, so it might be best to avoid any CBD products for them.
There’s just not enough information about possible harmful effects to risk it.
Check with your vet before using any products on them.
Check the information on each manufacturer.
Look for smaller companies specifically making oils formulated for pets, not rebranding oil made for people.
Small companies are more interested in purity and quality than mass-production and they’ll openly explain how they process their products.
Purity, dosage amount, potency and speed of absorbency all affect the quality of CBD and will affect how your cat responds to any product.
Always read the manufacturer’s information and review the Certificate of Analysis.
Independent Lab Results
Reputable CBD manufacturers send out their products to 3rd-party laboratories for analysis.
Once the analysis is complete, the lab provides the manufacturers with a Certificate of Analysis (COA) showing the amount of CBD, THC, other cannabidiols, and contaminants (e.g., fungus, metal, bacteria).
This information is very important since there’s no oversight or industry standard yet established.
You can check the test results for the specific batch of the product you’ve bought so you know exactly what’s in the bottle.
Either match a batch number found on the side of your bottle to a report number found on the company website or contact the company.
Reading lab results may sound boring, but it’s not difficult and is the only way to know you’re getting a good quality product.
Isn’t your feline friend worth it?
Find out more at… “CBD Lab Results: Why You Need to Read & Understand Them“.
Full & Broad Spectrum, CBD Isolate
What the heck is “full spectrum”, “broad spectrum”, or “CBD isolate”?
You’ll see these terms mentioned with many CBD products.
They make a difference in the type of CBD product you choose.
It’s important to decide which is best for the condition you’re trying to alleviate.
“Full Spectrum” – uses all parts of the hemp plant, including components that create the “entourage effect” that works with CBD to make it more effective.
Full Spectrum products contain a trace amount of THC (0.3% or less).
“Broad Spectrum” – uses all parts of the plant and all THC is removed.
People who are worried about THC, even in small amounts, prefer to use this type.
“CBD Isolate” – extracts only CBD, so it’s in its purest form. It’s refined into a fine white powder of about 99% CBD.
CBD isolate has no taste or odor and is used in products like treats and creams.
Its purity gives you precise control over how much CBD you’re giving your cat.
Types of CBD Products for Cats
Currently, CBD for cats is available in these forms…
- Topical Creams
All CBD Products Should…
- Have independent lab test results showing the quality of cannabis, levels of CBD and THC, and any contaminants like metals, bacteria, and fungus
- Be specifically for pets or cats
- Be full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate
- Show the amount of CBD in milligrams (mg) and total amount of CBD in the product (“hemp oil” products have less CBD than “CBD oil” or “hemp seed oil”)
- Have less than 0.3% TCH, preferably none
- Have no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
- Be grain-free with all natural ingredients (to keep calories low)
- Be priced according to quality (lower pricing usually means less quality, less CBD)
- Use organically grown hemp plants (hemp absorbs toxins from soil so organic keeps impurities out)
- Use hemp grown in the United States under strict regulations
Chews & Treats
Treats and chews (soft treats)… yum!!
We kitties love our treats and these are easy to give your cat.
They absorb more slowly since they go through the digestive system, so aren’t made for quick pain relief.
They’re less effective than oils and not as precise with CBD dosage amounts.
Treats are useful for mild conditions but add calories that you may not want your cat to have.
Both crunchy and chewy treats have flavors that appeal to cats (e.g., salmon, chicken, liver).
Be sure you follow instructions carefully and treat these like medication, not regular treats.
Read the information carefully, ask questions, and read reviews.
Capsules… hmm. Ever tried giving one to your cat… and survived?
These tend to work better for dogs than cats unless you do well with “pilling” your cat.
This is probably why they’re less popular and harder to find than chews or oils.
It also takes longer for the CBD to be absorbed since it goes through the digestive system instead of mucous membranes in the mouth.
Look for the same information as with other CBD products.
Be sure you follow instructions carefully and treat these like medication not treats.
Rub some cream into the inner part of your cat’s ears so it’ll absorb quickly through the skin.
This is good for anxious times like going to the vet (ahh!) or thunderstorms (yikes!).
It’s also supposed to help with skin or paw irritations like itchiness or bug bites.
Most CBD creams are made for people so look for ones formulated specifically for pets or cats.
If you don’t see the COA information right away, check the FAQ section on their sites.
CBD in oil goes immediately into a cat’s bloodstream through the mucous membranes of the mouth.
This makes it more effective for immediate relief of pain and anxiety than lotions, capsules or treats.
The oil itself should have only three ingredients…
- pure CBD
- a carrier oil
- natural flavoring (if added)
Anything else is unnecessary and some additives can be toxic to your cat.
Differences in Oils
There are notable differences between CBD oil, hemp oil, and hemp seed oil.
They are made from different parts of the hemp plant.
CBD is extracted from the flowers and leaves, while hemp seeds are the basis for hemp seed oil.
Hemp seed oil has little to no CBD and is a carrier oil when CBD is added.
It’s good for digestive health and a shiny coat, while CBD is for pain relief with anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory uses.
If you want CBD oil, be sure the label says “CBD oil” or “hemp extract” and check how much CBD is in it (in milligrams).
Processing Methods of CBD Oil
CBD should be extracted from the hemp plant using a process called “supercritical CO2 extraction”.
This is the best process because it keeps the highest amount of potency from the plant and is safe.
“Standard CO2 extraction, cold-press extraction, steam distillation, and extraction with natural solvents are all safe but less desirable in terms of potency.”1 “Best CBD Oil For Cats: Reviews And Complete Buying Guide” by Nina Julia, CFAH. Last updated: October 17, 2021
Absorption & Emulsion
How quickly and thoroughly does a cat’s body absorb CBD?
It depends on how well the CBD is emulsified (combined) with the oil (think salad dressing).
Most people want faster absorption, although sometimes slower is better for certain conditions.
There are three types of emulsion that affect oil absorption…
- Standard – has large particles that absorb poorly; found in lowest quality and cheapest oils
- Liposomal – has smaller particles that absorb well; a bit better quality and slightly higher prices
- Nano-sized – has smallest particles that absorb the best; only a few CBD manufacturers use this type
How much CBD oil do I give my cat?
Oils (tinctures) are different from the other types of CBD products.
Dosage must be determined separately and specifically for both the CBD and the oil. With the right dose your cat will be calmer but not lethargic.
The best way to figure out how much to give is to carefully follow directions for each specific product.
There’s no oversight or uniform measurement of dosages.
You may be giving a more or less concentrated dose to your cat than you think you are if you don’t follow directions carefully.
Don’t use human dosages and make them smaller, as if your cat were a small version of a person.
Your cat’s body processes everything differently than yours and can’t tolerate as much as you can.
When starting out, err on the side of caution. It’s better to start slowly and work your way up to an effective dose than to overdose.
Amount of CBD Is Determined by Cat’s Weight
“There’s no approved recommended daily intake (RDI) for pet CBD oil yet, but experts recommend giving cats 1 mg (low dose for mild symptoms), 3 mg (medium dose for moderate symptoms), and 5 mg (high dose for severe symptoms) of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight.” 2 CBD Oil for Cats With Kidney Disease – CFAH
“The key number to look for is listed as mg/ml, which means milligrams per milliliter. It tells you how many milligrams of CBD are in each milliliter of oil. (Ignore the big number on the bottle like “125mg” – that tells you how much cannabidiol is in the entire bottle.)” 3 “Best CBD Oil For Cats: Reviews And Complete Buying Guide” by Nina Julia, CFAH, October 17, 2021
Amount of Oil
“If you buy CBD oil that contains 4mg/ml, divide by four, and you find that it contains 1 milligram of CBD in each ¼ milliliter of oil. ¼ milliliter would be the right dose.” 4 “Best CBD Oil For Cats: Reviews And Complete Buying Guide” by Nina Julia, CFAH, October 17, 2021
How Quickly Will My Cat Respond to CBD Oil?
“Every cat responds differently to CBD oil, but in general, you can expect the following response times:
- When giving CBD directly into your cat’s mouth (sublingually) – About 20-60 minutes
- When giving CBD in your cat’s food – About 45–90 minutes
Note: When treating chronic issues, you may not see optimal results until 2 to 4 weeks of steady use.”5 CBD Oil For Cats: Peeing, Urinary Tract Infections, Appetite & More (cannanine.com)
It’s possible a tolerance can be built up over time and you’ll have to change the dosage slowly to continue the helpful effects.
How to Get CBD Oil into Your Cat
Now here’s the fun part! Will your cat let you stick a dropper in her mouth (be sure it’s a plastic one, not glass)?
Getting the oil into your cat can be a sticky wicket!
It’s supposed to go under the tongue, and while some of my feline brethren are chill enough to allow it, many won’t sit still for it.
Another idea… If your cat will sniff at the dropper, she can lick it off the end while you squeeze out the number of drops needed.
Be sure to clean the dropper before putting it back in the bottle.
If your cat won’t let you near her mouth, try using training techniques with her favorite treats, one small step at a time.
You can put it in her food, but it will not be as effective. Try putting the drops in the bowl just before feeding.
That way she can lick it up first (especially if it tastes like bacon!) and get it in her system before the food.
Putting some on your cat’s paw to lick is another option, but there’s no guarantee she’ll get the correct amount of CBD.
Some suggest rubbing it on the inside of the ears since it will absorb quickly there.
Both oils and creams can be applied in this way.
As you can see, CBD in whatever form you use, must be dealt with as you would any medication.
Work with it under a vet’s guidance, if possible, and follow manufacturer instructions carefully.
These products are still new and there have been very few studies of any kind done on their effectiveness and safety with cats, both short and long term.
While there’s a lot more research to be done, there seem to be benefits in using CBD for my fellow scaredy-cats and felines with chronic inflammatory conditions.
Discover more about your cat’s health at “Cat Health“.
Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.
Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.
Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.
Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own.
However, sometimes they refer to primary sources.
When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.
List of Sources
“5 Things to Know Before Using Medical Cannabis for Your Pets” by Hayley Fox, Leafly, May 18, 2017
“5 Best CBD Salves for Dogs & Cats“, by Alex Malkin, Redstorm Scientific, January 10, 2020
“6 Potential Side Effects of CBD Oils for Cats: What You Should Know!” by Christian Adams, Excited Cats, last updated: Aug 22, 2021
“The 10 Best CBD for Cats in 2021-2022” – CBD Awareness Project (cbdoil.org), November 22, 2019
“Analgesic and antiinflammatory activity of constituents of Cannabis sativa L” – by E.A. Formukong, A.T. Evans, F.J., EvansPubMed (nih.gov), August 1988
“Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa” by Alexandre R de Mello Schier, Natalia P de Oliveira Ribeiro, Danielle S Coutinho, Sergio Machado, Oscar Arias-Carrión, Jose A Crippa, Antonio W Zuardi, Antonio E Nardi, Adriana C Silva – PubMed (nih.gov)
“Best CBD Oil For Cats: Reviews And Complete Buying Guide” by Nina Julia, CFAH. Last updated: October 17, 2021
“Best CBD Oil for Cats – The Top CBD Brands for Your Kitty“, cannabissupplementsforpets.com
“CANNABIDIOL (CBD)”, by Professor Jason White, Adelaide, Australia, Ms. Dilkushi Poovendran, Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Stephanie Kershaw, Adelaide, Australia, World Health Organization, Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, November 6-10, 2017
“Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders” by Esther M. Blessing, Maria M. Steenkamp, Jorge Manzanares, and Charles R. Marmar, nih.gov, October 2015
“Cannabinoids inhibit nitric oxide production in bone marrow derived feline macrophages” by W Ponti, T Rubino, M Bardotti, G Poli, D Parolaro, PubMed (nih.gov), October 2001
“Cannabinoid receptors in invertebrates” by J M McPartland, J Agraval, D Gleeson, K Heasman, M Glass, PubMed (nih.gov), March 2006
“Cannabinoids in health and disease” by Natalya M. Kogan, MSc and Raphael Mechoulam, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products Dept, Pharmacy School, Ein-Kerem Medical Campus, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, December 2007, nih.gov
“Cannabis 101: CBD for Cats” by Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT, Boulder Holistic Vet
“Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals” by Zerrin Atakan, (nih.gov), December 2012
“Cannabis and Cats: A Feline Guide to Marijuana, CBD, and Hemp” by Dorothy Harris, cnbs.org, last updated: February 25, 2019
“Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know“, NCCIH (nih.gov)
“Cannabis, One Health, and Veterinary Medicine: Cannabinoids’ Role in Public Health, Food Safety, and Translational Medicine” – by Sivan Ritter, D.V.M., B.A., Lilach Zadik-Weiss, M.V.P.H., D.V.M., B.Sc.Ag., L.L.B., Osnat Almogi-Hazan, Ph.D., and Reuven Or, M.D., nih.gov, January 30, 2020
“CBD, Cannabinoid & Hemp Research“, Canna-Pet®
“CBD for Seizures in Cats“, by Fay Smith, Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM, CBD Clinicals, Updated on November 1, 2021
“CBD Lab Results: Why You Need to Read & Understand Them” by Glory Finnegan (neurogan.com), September 13, 2019
“CBD Oil for Cats: Here’s Everything You Need to Know” by Tim Kalantjakos, The CBD Insider, September 28, 2020
“CBD Oil for Cats: How to Reduce Pain & Inflammation Naturally” by Brandon Nolte, healthyhempoil.com
“CBD Oil For Cats: Peeing, Urinary Tract Infections, Appetite & More“, cannanine.com, April 5, 2021
“CBD Oil for Cats: What You Need to Know“, by Kate Hughes, PetMD
“CBD Oil for Cats With Kidney Disease” by Nina Julia, CFAH, last updated: October 17, 2021
“CBD Oil for Cats With Seizures and Epilepsy” by Nina Julia, CFAH, Last updated: August 31, 2021
“CBD for Dogs Buyer’s Guide: 8 Things To Consider Before Buying CBD Oil for Your Dog“, cannanine.com, April 5, 2021
“The Endocannabinoid System of Animals” by Robert J. Silver, nih.gov, September 16, 2019
“FDA warns companies illegally selling CBD products“, American Veterinary Medical Association (avma.org), January 15, 2020
“How to Give CBD Oil to Cats – Benefits & CBD Dosage” by Glory Finnegan, neurogan.com, February 14, 2021
“Marijuana intoxication in a cat” by Agnieszka Janeczek, Marcin Zawadzki, Pawel Szpot, and Artur Niedzwiedz, nih.gov, July 11, 2018
“New Developments in Cannabinoid-Based Medicine: An Interview with Dr. Raphael Mechoulam“, (adapted from Mavericks of Medicine by David Jay Brown), Longevity Medicine Review (lmreview.com)
“Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs” by Lauri-Jo Gamble, Jordyn M. Boesch, Christopher W. Frye, Wayne S. Schwark, Sabine Mann, Lisa Wolfe, Holly Brown, Erin S. Berthelsen and Joseph J. Wakshlag, Frontiers In Veterinary Science (frontiersin.org), July 23, 2018
“Preliminary data from CBD clinical trials ‘promising’” by Mary Gulden, Colorado State University (colostate.edu), July 2018
“Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy” by Stephanie McGrath, Lisa R Bartner, Sangeeta Rao, Rebecca A Packer, Daniel L Gustafson, PubMed (nih.gov), June 1, 2019
“Researching Marijuana for Therapeutic Purposes: The Potential Promise of Cannabidiol (CBD)”, Nora’s Blog, NIDA (drugabuse.gov), July 20, 2015
“The Science of CBD and Cannabis to Cats & Dogs” by Alexa Peters, Leafly, October 11, 2018
“Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats” by Kelly A. Deabold, Wayne S. Schwark, Lisa Wolf, and Joseph J. Wakshlag, mdpi.com, August 30, 2019
“Top 5 Best Strains for CBD Oil” – 2021 UPDATE, Weedseedsexpress
“What is CBD Isolate & Whole Plant CBD Oil? What’s the Difference?” by Cherie S., madebyhemp.com, Feb 1, 2018
“What Is Hemp? The Differences Between Hemp vs. Marijuana” (weedmaps.com)
“Which Cannabis Strains are Highest in CBD?” by Grant Hosking, Modern Nature, April 09, 2019
Updated July 9, 2023