how does cbd oil help cats?

did you know cbd can help cats just like humans and dogs? kitties have a special place in our world and we have a few within our zadaka family (shout outs to dash, violet, and whispers). they have a really sharp sixth sense of sorts and are very sensitive to all sorts of changes in their environments, small and large. you’re probably well aware of this, and sometimes that leaves our fur babies feeling stressed or anxious.

there seems to be nowhere near the amount of information on cbd and cats as is available for their canine counterparts. sure, some of it can still apply, but we had a feeling we weren’t the only ones left with lots of questions about cbd and how it pertains to our feline family members. this article will fill that gap, serving as the resource that actually answers all your questions about how cbd oil can help cats.

how does cbd work on cats?

cbd works on cats due to the presence of their endocannabinoid system (ecs). when you give your cat cbd oil, it activates their body’s cb1 and cb2 receptors, enabling the body to enact processes that ultimately work towards creating homeostasis within their bodies.

more specifically, the activation of your cat’s ecs causes them to produce their own endocannabinoids which are then sent throughout the body with a focus on areas of need. this process happens exactly the same as it does in our own bodies since we also have an ecs. in fact, all animals on planet earth have an ecs, and it is believed to be one of the oldest systems present in the evolution of all animal life forms. this is important because it is believed to play a role in homeostasis and can have a regulatory effect on pretty much every area of both our bodies and our cats’.

it does appear, however, that cats are not completely wired the same as humans or dogs when it comes to their ecs (go figure). cats are carnivores, and they process food differently than their omnivorous dog and human friends. this could result in your cat not digesting the carrier oil (such as olive oil or mct oil) thoroughly, which could lead to a couple of issues: your cat may not fully process and maximize its intake of cbd and/or it may also get an upset stomach as a result. 

of course, this is not meant to scare you off from giving your cat cbd. on the contrary, knowing this information can allow you to look for signs regarding whether or not the cbd oil you gave them is working as well as if it is causing them any stomach discomfort. you should also always be sure to look for as potent of a cbd product as possible to minimize the amount of actual oil your cat has to consume in order to take full advantage of everything cbd has to offer.

does cbd get your cat high?

cannabidiol, the compound better known as cbd contains zero psychoactive properties and will not get your cat high. cbd comes from the cannabis plant, as does its mind-altering cousin thc. however, cbd oil comes from hemp, a specific classification of cannabis that has less than 0.3% thc. 

such trace amounts of thc are not enough to get you or your pet high, which is even more important for cats as thc can be toxic to them. exposure to thc in cats can cause incoordination, anxiety, depression, vomiting, and in rare and more extreme cases, seizures and even death. of course, trace amounts should not cause any concern beyond the potential digestive issues previously mentioned, unrelated to thc in the first place.

hemp can be extracted into various finished products. when in its original state, its flowers contain high amounts of cbd that are accompanied by trace amounts of more than 100 other phytocannabinoids, of which thc is just one. when the integrity of the whole plant is retained in the resulting extract, it’s called full spectrum. the opposite of this would be to remove all other aspects of the cannabis plant from the equation, resulting in only the cbd molecule. this is called an isolate.

isolates contain absolutely zero thc, while full spectrum extracts have trace amounts. you might think that makes cbd isolate products superior, but the opposite is actually true. a phenomenon known as the entourage effect comes from the trace levels of accessory phytocannabinoids giving cbd’s properties a boost, so to speak. the best part is you can remove thc from a full spectrum extract and still engage the entourage effect: this is called a broad spectrum extract and it effectively gives both you and your cat the best of both worlds from isolate and full spectrum products. 

in short, your cat is more likely to show signs of being “high” from consuming catnip than it is from cbd oil. regardless, a high-potency broad spectrum hemp extract will always be the best product for cats and people alike. 

how does cbd help cats?

the best way to take advantage of cbd is by consuming it daily. just like humans, cbd works best for cats when it’s taken regularly because it can allow for consistent activation of their ecs, which can then work to regulate other systems all throughout their bodies.

the list of areas where cbd can help your cat includes, but is not limited to:

  • behavioral issues related to stress and anxiety, including aggressive behavior and being prone to attack
  • loss of appetite
  • increased activity levels and playfulness
  • ability to manage pain, soreness, and arthritic symptoms
  • helping to settle stomach issues like vomiting, constipation, and inflammatory bowel disease
  • breathing issues in cats such as asthma and chronic upper respiratory tract infections
  • dry skin
  • weight loss

there have been very few studies on cbd and animals due to the legal issues previously posed with cannabis (hemp is now legal in all 50 states as of 2018). most preliminary research has been done on rats and mice in laboratory settings, though dogs and even horses are also being studied in addition to cats.

promising results have already been found with regards to cbd’s efficacy towards reducing pain in dogs with osteoarthritis, suggesting even more potential benefits for animals of all kinds to be discovered in the future, cats included. on top of this, there is also an fda-approved cbd medication for epileptic seizures, and it is possible that cbd may help cats who have seizures as well. 

cbd for anxiety in cats

of all the ways in which cat owners look to cbd for help, anxiety is at the top of the list. cbd exhibits calming effects that can help your cat manage stressful situations in a healthier way, without the need for prescription pharmaceuticals.

it’s easy to tell when your kitty gets anxious or stressed out about a situation. cats are much more prone to stress over environmental changes. if you frequently encounter predictable situations that trigger your cat’s anxiety, you may want to look into giving them cbd an hour or so before those situations occur in order to allow for absorption time. even if that isn’t possible, you can still administer cbd to your cat as early as you recognize the need to, as cats often take time to ease back into normalcy after stressful situations anyways.

giving your cat cbd for anxiety highlights another reason in which it is ideal to use it daily: you will be better able to hone in on how cbd affects your cat and what their optimal dosage is. knowing these two bits about your cat’s relationship with cbd can help you maximize its potential to placate anxiety.

assuming you care about your cat (you are reading this article after all), you should also be aware of all the other ways you could help your cat deal with anxiety, whether those efforts are made environmentally or socially. 

here are some things to be mindful of:

  • a safe hiding space is always a good thing to have for your kitty. this might be as simple as under a bed or in a closet, but make sure they have access to that space. keep your bedroom door open, or the same goes for whatever other room they go in to hide. you probably have already experienced this, but your cat will eventually calm down and show their face again. the least you can do is give them a comfortable space in the meantime.  
  • natural light helps cats feel at ease. even if they want to hide, having access to natural light will give them a semblance of things being normal, and they may come out and lay in the sun if it is shining through a window, getting comfy and easing stress in the process. just like natural light is good for our overall mood as humans, the same goes for our feline companions. 
  • desensitization to predictable stimuli can also help. take it slow and break things down step-by-step in order to set your cat up for success. a similar approach can be taken when addressing separation anxiety in dogs.
  • dedicated interaction! you didn’t think we were going to leave this one off the list, did you?! part of having a pet is the responsibility of giving it attention. in other words, one of the most beautiful parts of having pets is the opportunity to bond and share love with them. dedicating time to playing with your cat, or giving them some affection, will help them feel more comfortable in their environment and help with their overall well-being!

having a close bond with your pet will also cue you in better to the subtleties of their body language and overall personality. being aware of this can help you notice when your cat may start to display signs of anxiety, allowing you to act accordingly. it could even allow you to alleviate the situation from arising in the first place by shifting their attention or removing a given stimulus by closing a door, window, etc. (for example, if there is another cat outside in your yard that would spook your kitty, you could close the blinds or distract them into another room for some playtime).

is cbd safe for cats?

cbd is safe and 100% non toxic for cats. it is possible for your cat to have some mild gastrointestinal effects if they are sensitive to the carrier oil in a tincture (such as olive oil or mct oil), but there is no toxicity risk in giving your cat cbd. 

veterinarians may find themselves in a peculiar situation with cbd oil. cbd is not regulated by the fda and despite the fact that it is legal in all 50 states, there is tremendous legal risk to any sort of veterinary advice on cbd being taken as an official medical prescription or recommendation. of course you are always welcome and encouraged to ask your veterinarian for more information about how cbd may help your cat, just make sure you understand where their boundaries lie. depending how knowledgeable your vet is about cannabis, you may still learn something new and useful. it can’t hurt to ask, right?

if you’ve decided to try cbd for your cat, you will likely encounter a lot of available products. at the end of the day, the cbd molecule is the same regardless of whether the product is labeled for cats or not. the true differences will likely only lie in the potency and price point (and other specific ingredients in the case of cbd cat treats and such). cbd products for pets are often more expensive than ones marketed to humans, and they often have much less actual cbd in their contents. 

especially with cbd drops, you want to get the most concentrated tincture possible for your cat in order to reduce the amount of overall oil they need to get their cbd dosage. on top of that, make sure your cbd comes from organically grown hemp somewhere in the usa. even though cbd is not regulated, the hemp industry is still subject to strict regulations. hemp can absorb everything within its soil, contaminants included, so staying within these guidelines will ensure your final product is free of any harmful pesticides, fungicides, and toxins like lead and arsenic.

you should also look to make sure the cbd product you buy is co2 extracted, as it is the purest form of extraction. some available products use ethanol or butane because it is much cheaper, but there are risks associated with these types of solvents. alcohol may degrade the product during the extraction process, and it is possible for less than 100% of it to be evaporated during the extraction process. this could cause potentially unwanted side effects, and can be avoided by ensuring that your cbd has been extracted via a carbon dioxide method.

how is cbd for cats different than dogs?

far more studies have been conducted on dogs’ relationship to cbd than cats. there is also more anecdotal evidence of cbd helping dogs thus far, which is likely due to differences in the way the two species process cbd, in addition to dogs being more prone to liking cbd oil more in general.

cats and dogs processing cbd differently seems to be supported by one small experiment conducted in 2019. in the study, eight cats and eight dogs were each administered cbd-rich hemp products for 12 weeks, however the cats showed mostly no changes from their initial physical examination when checked again. in the end, it was determined that “cats do appear to absorb or eliminate cbd differently than dogs,” with more work needing to be done on the subject in order to better understand cats' relationship with cbd. 

understandably, we may hear of a first-hand account of a friend’s dog having the quality of their life drastically improved by cbd and want to help our cat in the same fashion. there is certainly plenty of potential for cbd to help cats too, as was discussed in the previous section of this article. but at the present moment, we still do not have much by way of scientifically conclusive evidence on the matter, and we aren’t here to try and lie to you.

how do i give my cat cbd?

cats are likely to be much less inclined than dogs to readily take cbd straight from the dropper or palm of your hand. with regards to cbd drops, the best option would be to mix it with their food. this should be especially easy if you give your kitty wet food, though it should be fine regardless.

if for some reason your cat will not eat the food with cbd, you can always try another carrier oil or buy specific cat cbd treats. lastly, make sure to pay attention to their behavior over the next hour to see if the cbd has had any effect. your cat will thank you in the long run.

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