CBD Oil for Cats - What Is It? Does It Work? - Cat Info Detective

CBD Oil for Cats – What Is It? Does It Work?

Skye Blake looking left through magnifying glass

Greetings curious cats! Skye Blake here with some info people have been curious about lately… CBD oil for cats!

When your furry feline’s in pain or upset, what can you do to help?

You’ve heard about CBD and how it’s the latest craze in miracles…

But wait! Is it really all that great?

paw prints coming in from a distance

First, Vet Visit

First things first. Get your buddy to the vet for a complete checkup.

Find out what’s wrong before deciding how best to treat his problem. CBD isn’t for casual use.

If you’re already working with a vet and have a good diagnosis but are frustrated with treatments that aren’t helping, ask about using CBD. Some vets aren’t legally allowed to discuss it (see below), but others can.

What is CBD (Cannabidiol) Oil?

hemp leaf - litter, CBD

CBD oil has become popular for people, dogs and cats who have inflammation, pain, anxiety, and chronic conditions.

So, what is CBD oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa L. plant.

CBD oil is cannabidiol with carrier oils and sometimes other ingredient like flavorings.

Cannabis, Hemp, CBD & Marijuana

kitten with cloth heart

People use the terms “cannabis”, “hemp”, “CBD”, and “marijuana” interchangeably, which gets confusing.

Hopefully, this info will provide some clarity.

Cannabis

hemp plant - litter, CBD

Cannabis”, also called “hemp”, is a genus of flowering plants with a disputed number of species.

The main three are…

Cannabis sativaCannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis

Cannabis species come in many different varieties, with over 100 active compounds, some having opposite effects from others.

Hemp

hemp rope - litter, CBD

The word “hemp” describes varieties of cannabis grown for industrial, non-drug use. Examples of these uses are rope and cat litter.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

essential oils - fleas, CBD

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa L. plant that contains less than 0.3% THC.

Manufacturers use it in products like lotion, oils, treats/chews, and capsules.

CBD cream, lotion

Anecdotal and scientific evidence shows there are beneficial effects from CBD that lessen symptoms of various chronic conditions in people.

This makes CBD desirable, since it has benefits without the mind-altering chemical (THC) of marijuana.

So now pet owners are trying it for their dogs and cats with chronic and/or painful conditions.

The Legalization of Hemp

hemp seeds - litter, CBD

As part of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill-Trump) the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 reclassified hemp (with less than 0.3% THC) from “Schedule I controlled substance” to “agricultural commodity”.

“Under the Hemp Farming Act, hemp cultivation is no longer limited to state departments and universities.

cat jumping down onto grass-front view

In addition, the act allows farmers rights to water, crop insurance, and federal agricultural grants, as well as legal access to national banking.

Hemp may also be transported across state lines.”1“Is Hemp Cultivation Legal in the U.S.?”, Weedmaps

Discover more about the history of hemp in the U.S. at “Hemp Cat Litter“.

Marijuana

Marijuana, hemp-THC, chemical drawing

Marijuana is the type of cannabis most people are familiar with that’s smoked as “joints”.

It contains the compound Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that creates a mind-altering “high” or euphoria in humans.

Marijuana typically contains from 2.5% to 25% THC. The more potent it is, the more dangerous it is.

THC is what makes marijuana an illegal controlled substance in some states and at the federal level in the U.S.

Marijuana & Cats Don’t Mix

cat sitting on floor looking at dropper of CBD oil held by woman

If you think it’d be fun to watch your cat get “high”, think again! Humpf… what an offense to our feline dignity!

Ok, catnip makes us crazy… but not marijuana!

Catnip makes us kitties mellow and happy.

Marijuana makes us very sick…

Ginger cat smelling catnip plants

THC can cause neurological problems that create fear and erratic, aggressive behavior.

Don’t feed it to cats in any form (including brownies).

Don’t smoke it around them, and don’t blow the smoke in any cat’s face!

There’s a documented case of a cat being made sick by marijuana smoke.

Find out more at “Marijuana intoxication in a cat“.

The Endocannabinoid System in Animals

various pets. animals

All mammals, reptiles, fish, and birds have a system known as the “endocannabinoid system” (ECS). That includes us fabulous felines!

In this system is a chain of receptors (CB1 and CB2) in the brain, organs, glands, and nervous system that helps keep the body chemically balanced.

CBD interacts with these receptors in the bodies of humans and dogs, so it’s likely the same in us cats.

exotic blue-eyed cat looking over shoulder

There is still much that’s not known about the endocannabinoid system.

Safety and effectiveness both for short and long-term use of CBD in humans or animals is currently being studied.

Many studies have been done over the last few decades about non-psychoactive cannabinoids, but were conducted with laboratory animals such as rats, not cats.

Theories abound that CBD oil will work well for cats with various conditions because they have the same ECS that humans, dogs, rats, and other mammals do.

Scientist holding test tube - vet medicine, CBD

Scientists are currently conducting studies specifically with cats about the effects of CBD on pain.

More studies are planned to determine if relieving anxiety helps deal with urinary tract infections (sure hope so).

Logically, the studies that are emerging about humans, dogs and CBD, lead people to think cats can respond in the same way to medical use of the oil.

Assuming that’s correct, it makes sense that we cats could get the same benefits from CBD oil as people and dogs do.

Veterinarians & CBD

vet office

Talking to your veterinarian about CBD is just as important as talking to your doctor.

But this may be difficult or even impossible. Here’s why…

Scientific Evidence (or Lack Thereof)

vet removing cat from carrier

Many vets may not yet be up-to-date about the legal changes and use of CBD products.

Even if their knowledge is current, they’re justifiably reluctant to recommend using products that don’t have controlled, independent scientific studies to back those recommendations.

Vets are more comfortable using medications that have a good track record of success instead of something yet unproven (works for me, too).

Anecdotal stories of what people experience with their pets are helpful but not the same as clinical data.

pharmacy-pills - vet medicine

In the case of CBD, there are other medications that have the backing of scientific studies already in use for the same conditions.

In some cases, though, these traditional treatments don’t work or have side effects that aren’t good for long-term treatment.

If that’s the case in your state or area and regular treatments aren’t helping relieve your cat’s pain and other symptoms, a holistic vet may be able to help.

Veterinary Legal Restraints

rules-plain background - cat show

Another restraint on veterinarians is that some vet licensing boards forbid discussion of any cannibas treatments with clients.

Those who can discuss it, can’t prescribe or recommend any products. It’s illegal for vets to prescribe cannabis, since it’s a Schedule I drug, illegal by U.S. federal law.

law books in library - CBD, cannabis laws

Laws dealing with prescriptions have not yet (to my knowledge) been revised to make an exception for CBD products.

The changes in laws involved with cannabis have made the issue confusing, since some states have now made its use legal, even though it’s still illegal nationally.

If you live in a country other than the United States, check the laws in your area.

CBD – A Current Hot Topic

people in a meeting - vets

The veterinary community is currently discussing the CBD issue and will continue to review new information as it becomes available.

Legislatures, vet boards and vets themselves will have more ability to properly judge the use of CBD for all animals as more studies are completed and data becomes available.

Observations From Vets About CBD

tuxedo cat sniffing dropper of fragrance; CBD oil, vet

While many vets are more conservative in their approach to new products like CBD and prefer to wait for the clinical data, some believe there’s enough anecdotal evidence to justify using CBD in some cases.

There are currently some vets who are experts in understanding and using CBD for animals.

Ginger tabby cat in cardboard box

Find out more from them…

Dr. Karen Becker – The Effective Pain Treatment Your Vet May Not Want to Talk About (mercola.com)

Dr. Stephanie McGrath – Preliminary data from CBD clinical trials ‘promising’ (colostate.edu)

Dr. Celeste Yarnell – Dr. Becker Interviews Dr. Yarnall About CBD-Rich Hemp Oil for Cats – YouTube

Dr. Gary Richter – Vets weigh in on cannabis for pets, GreenState

CBD & Chronic Conditions in Cats

sick cat holding thermometer and pills

Below is a list of diseases and chronic conditions in cats that seem to be responsive to CBD in its various forms (oil/tincture, capsules, topical cream, treats).

Take your cat to a vet for a proper diagnosis before using CBD in any form.

Carefully consider purity, dosage amount, and the potency that’s appropriate for your cat’s condition before using any CBD product.

pharmacist - vet medicine

If your cat is on other medications, it’s important to talk to your vet and pharmacist before giving CBD to avoid harmful drug interactions.

cbd oil, cannabis leaf

There’s no oversight or uniform measurement of dosages, so you may be giving a more or less concentrated dose to your cat than you think you are.

Be sure the oil you buy has been lab-tested for quality of cannabis, levels of CBD vs. THC, and any contaminants like metals, bacteria, and fungus.

Anxiety/Stress

Cats by Louis Wain
“Cats” by Louis Wain

CBD oil has a reputation for helping cats who are anxious and stressed. (We have such demanding lives, you see!)

This can occur in specific situations (e.g., thunderstorms or vet visits, ahhh!) or as a chronic problem (e.g., feels like my world is out to get me!).

It’s best to first try alleviating stress, anxiety, and behavioral problems by giving your buddy a cat-friendly living environment.

cat-sleeping-in-cat-tree

Cat trees, scratching posts, window seats, and other environmental enrichment relieve territorial anxiety… always great to be able to sit up high and survey our world!

You can work on training, too, and even talk to a behaviorist, if necessary.

Arthritis

cat outside watching something

There are two types of arthritis… rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.

Osteo is more prevalent in cats, especially older ones.

Both cause pain and stiffness in joints.

Cancer

cancer cells mitosis - vet medicine

Studies have been done showing CBD has properties that help prevent the spread of cancer and might be able to reverse a cancer’s growth in dogs.

This is promising for us cats but more research needs to be done.

Currently, CBD is useful for relieving side effects of chemotherapy and pain from the cancer itself.

Diabetes

fat cat on floor, diabetes, vet, CBD oil

Some people are using CBD oil to treat diabetes in people and animals, but it’s not known how well this works to stabilize blood sugars.

Changes in diet and exercise (with insulin injections, when needed) are still the most effective way to deal with diabetes.

Inflammation

Tabby cat sunning; pain, vet, CBD oil

Tissue inflammation is involved with a number of illnesses both in people and animals.

It’s often painful and difficult to eliminate.

Rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome are a few such illnesses.

There are indications that CBD has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that might be helpful in many inflammatory conditions.

black cat sunning himself

Being of the feline purr-suasion, I can tell you that we cats are masters at instinctively hiding pain and sickness.

So, if your cat isn’t wanting to walk much, walks with difficulty, has behavior changes, or hides an abnormal amount of time, get her to a vet… immediately.

IBS & Other Gastrointestinal Problems

tabby cat standing in litter box, irritable bowel syndrome, vet, CBD oil

The gastrointestinal system is susceptible to inflammatory problems.

Research done on humans using CBD oil for gastrointestinal problems indicates it should work well for dogs and cats.

But, again, there are no studies done yet confirming or refuting this.

Nausea/Vomiting/Loss of Appetite

sick cat vomiting the food; vet, CBD oil

When your cat isn’t eating, get him to the vet right away. Don’t assume he’s just being finicky.

He can go downhill quickly from organ problems after a few days of not eating.

CBD is known to help relieve nausea and vomiting for people, as well as stimulate the appetite.

This is assumed to be true with cats, as well, and is used in chronic conditions that cause these symptoms.

Kidney Disease

face of sleepy cat - senior, older, arthritis, CBD oil

There’s some indication that CBD can treat symptoms of chronic kidney disease.

Chronic kidney disease can’t be cured, but some vitamins and supplements are used to improve quality of life.

CBD oil is being used to help balance body chemicals that get out of balance when the kidneys aren’t able to work properly.

Pain

Ginger, orange tabby lounging in a cage - vet, shelter

Pain is a symptom of many different physical conditions. Most pain can be eliminated by correcting the underlying cause.

Most people are familiar with taking aspirin, NSAID’s and other over-the-counter drugs to alleviate pain.

Generally, these are used as short-term remedies because of potential liver-damaging side effects. This is true for animals and people.

tortie wearing medical cone (cone of shame); pain, vet, CBD oil

Chronic (recurring, long-term) pain is another story.

People and animals that have conditions that cause frequent or constant pain need remedies that have few or no side effects.

People use CBD oil/tinctures internally for both themselves and their pets for chronic pain.

Milder surface pain is handled with topical CBD cream.

Pancreatitis

spilled-bottle-of-yellow-capsule-pills - - oils, fleas, CBD, vet, medicine

Pancreatitis is a very painful inflammation of the pancreas that can kill your cat.

It makes it hard to digest food and requires veterinary help immediately.

To control pancreatitis, some vets use a combination of diet, enzymes, herbals remedies and CBD oil.

If your regular vet can’t or won’t consider CBD, a holistic vet may be able to help.

Seizures & Epilepsy

veterinarian listening to a cat's heart

Seizures are scary and can be caused by various conditions, including epilepsy.

CBD is very effective in reducing seizures in people.

Scientists have done a study with dogs that shows it can be effective in cats as well.

cat balancing on fence ready to jump

Anti-seizure medications used for cats can stop seizures but are difficult for some cats to tolerate when used long term.

They can cause kidney and liver damage.

Find out more about seizures and CBD at “CBD Oil for Cats With Seizures and Epilepsy

Senior Cats

old senior grey cat. sick, vet, CBD oil

As with people, my wise and wizened senior friends slow down and can get painful conditions like arthritis.

There’s anecdotal evidence from vets and cat owners that CBD oil has helped senior cats get relief from arthritis, asthma, urinary tract infection symptoms, as well as pain relief.

Upper Respiratory Infections

ginger cat sneezing, upper respiratory infection, vet, CBD oil

Some cats get upper respiratory infections (URI), often referred to as “colds”, frequently during the course of their lives (ah-choo!).

No studies have yet proven it but some veterinarians and cat owners have found CBD helps alleviate the symptoms of URI’s.

Urinary Tract Infections/FLUTD

white cat squatting in litter box - Urinary Tract Infection, vet, CBD oil

Urinary system problems are often recurring, painful, and can lead to more serious problems.

It’s a major cause of kitties going in places other than the litter box.

Again, there are no direct scientific studies showing effectiveness, but the anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties in CBD are believed to help relieve pain and inflammation.


Using CBD for Your Cat

Now that you have a better understanding of CBD and it’s uses, you can find out more about CBD products and how to use them at ” Using CBD For Cats“.

Happy cats rule!


Related Pages of Interest

Hemp Cat LitterUsing CBD For Cats
What Are Essential Oils?Symptoms of Illness In Your Cat
First Aid For Cats Veterinary Specialists – What Kinds Are There?
What Does a Veterinarian Do?

Sources

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

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

A-B

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

Ca

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” – Wikipedia

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

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 Oil For Senior Cats: Does CBD Oil Help Arthritis In Cats?” (cannanine.com)

D-P

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. FryeWayne 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

Q-Z

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 Hemp? The Differences Between Hemp vs. Marijuana” (weedmaps.com)

Which Cannabis Strains are Highest in CBD?” by Grant Hosking, Modern Nature, April 09, 2019

Why Your Veterinarian Might Not Want to Talk About CBD Oil”, cannanine.com, April 5, 2021

Updated June 23, 2022

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