CBD for Anxious Cats: Pros and Cons

cat on fence

Cats anxiety remains a common concern among many cat owners.

For some cats, even the smallest changes in life, such as a vet visit or bathing, can create stress.

Other cats, on the contrary, can tolerate long separations with their owners and transatlantic flights without a fuss.

When cat owners deal with the anxiety of their beloved pets for the first time, they choose different solutions. While some immediately go to vets for medication, others try to do something on their own.

With the growing popularity of cannabidiol, some cat owners have been encouraged to give their pets CBD oil drops.

There is a simple logic behind it: if cannabidiol helps humans to battle anxiety and stress, why can’t it help cats as well? Even the WHO confirms that both humans and animals tolerate CBD well.

On the other hand, there is no sufficient evidence that CBD products are suitable for cats. The danger lies in the tendency of some cat owners to do a self-diagnosis instead of consulting vets.

As a result, they can easily overlook a serious medical condition behind cats’ anxious behaviour. In this case, CBD will only suppress symptoms instead of providing curation. Hence, CBD for cats remains a two-edged sword. When is it worth giving to your pet, and when is it better to abstain? 

yawning cat

The rising star of CBD

CBD stands for cannabidiol, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid most commonly derived from the hemp plant.

However, people frequently confuse CBD with another psychoactive cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), found in marijuana or “weed”. While CBD eases stress and helps relaxation, THC instigates high behaviour.

Despite that both marijuana and hemp belong to the Cannabis family, only “weed” contains high levels of THC.

On the contrary, organic hemp possesses high levels of CBD and low levels of THC. The 2017 World Health Organization report confirms that humans and animals tolerate CBD extracts from hemp well. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also suggest that adults can harmlessly consume up to 1500 mg of CBD daily within a month. 

Substantial research has already demonstrated the holistic benefits of CBD for humans. It has been widely recognized that CBD boosts general wellness, improves sleep, promotes relaxation, and helps to cope with anxiety and stress.

As a result, the CBD industry has flourished across the European Union. CBD products are legally allowed in the EU and the UK. CBD infused balm, beverages, creams, foods, oils, tinctures, and vitamins are easy to buy online and offline. 

Several CBD producers have already launched animal product lines. So far, CBD oils remain the most popular holistic additives to cats. Indeed, they can be easily incorporated to the ratio of the pickiest cats. CBD oil can be given either by direct feeding or indirectly, by adding it into cat food and treats. 

black cat in bucket

Cannabidiol the almighty: just for humans?

Though clinical trials have been underway for years to provide more evidence for the benefits of CBD, not much proper research has been published about its efficacy for pets.

So far, there has been only some anecdotal evidence about the positive effect of medicinal marijuana in pets. Therefore, many vets still advise being cautious about giving CBD to the beloved four-legged family members.

Indeed, when humans decide to incorporate CBD into their daily lives, they are advised to follow the appropriate dosage to stay safe.

Since each human organism is unique, unpredictable bodily reactions to CBD are quite possible. The same goes for animals, and cats in particular. There are not two cats exactly alike, and all cats can react differently to CBD products. 

According to Dr Gary Richter, the medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, CBD is generally safe for cats.

However, it is important to stay careful about the right CBD dosage to avoid potential side-effects, such as sedation and gastrointestinal upset. If overdosed with CBD, cats might become more passive and lazier than usual. Also, in rare cases, felines can have an upset stomach. In those cases, cat owners have to lower CBD dose and consult a vet.

Other vets, such as Dr Liza Guess from the Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Medicine, remain more skeptical about recommending CBD products to pet owners due to the lack of the official documented research on how cannabidiol affects them.

According to Dr Guess, cat owners should be careful when buying CBD products for their four-legged family members. All products must be laboratory tested for THC, bacteria, and heavy metals. 

In addition, cat owners should be aware of the potential dangers of marijuana and medicinal marijuana. Unlike the hemp-derived CBD that produces no non-psychoactive effects, medicinal marijuana contains much higher levels of toxic THC.

There is numerous evidence that cannabis plants and recreational marijuana make cats sick and uncomfortable. Instead of a  positive effect, marijuana-based products will make their state even worse.

close up cat

CBD for cats: to give or not to give?

While CBD is generally safe for animals, pet owners should be cautious about adding them to their cats’ daily routine.

First, it is important to determine the true reason behind the cat’s anxious behavior. On one hand, it can be minor stress, such as a temporary change of location. On the other hand, a cat might suffer from a serious disease, for example, from cancer. The best way to find out is to visit a vet as soon as possible. 

In case a vet confirms that an anxious cat is healthy, then it is possible to consider giving it a couple of CBD oil drops per day, either by direct feeding or through adding to cats treats.

In some cases, CBD can indeed benefit old cats experiencing pain or young cats abandoned by previous owners. At the same time, cat owners have to constantly monitor the state of their beloved pets for any possible side-effects, such as increased laziness, sedation, or stomach distress. Since there is no proper clinical research on how CBD affects cats, the consequences of adding cannabidiol solely depend on the owner.

In summary, CBD has an interesting potential to conquer the wellness market for animals. Despite the absence of proper medical research, CBD seems generally safe for cats and can be a harmless remedy against pets temporary anxiety and stress.

Still, cat owners should keep in mind that CBD can be useful for calming anxiety but has not been established to be a cure of any serious diseases. Always consult a medical professional or vet before using CBD for your cat. 

Featured Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay 

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  • It's Bro says:

    I love giving my dog natures medicine. I suppose if I had a cat, I would do the same. It’s a just for the 4th of July and Windy days.

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