Definitive Guide to CBD For Cats
With more and more people across the world using CBD for their general health and well-being, as well as its other therapeutic benefits, it is understandable that animal-lovers would be keen to know whether it could also be helpful for their pets.
Cats are one of the world’s most common and best-loved pets, having their own unique personalities and building special relationships with their human families. They can be affectionate, protective and cuddly and play an important part of the family.
They are also susceptible to a number of health problems and illnesses which can often be similar to humans, and given its helpfulness for us, this is another reason why it is important that we should look properly into whether CBD could be useful to our feline friends.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol – commonly known as CBD is a compound that is naturally present in the cannabis plant. There are over 100 compounds that are found in the plant, of which CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and the most well-known.
Both compounds are known as phyto-cannabinoids – cannabinoids which are made by a plant – and these can affect the endocannabinoid system in humans.
Scientists only discovered the endocannabinoid system in people in the 1990’s when they were investigating cannabis and its medicinal qualities. They discovered that the endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced naturally by the body) and when these interact with each other, they can affect a number of functions of the body.
Scientists discovered that the different cannabinoids (for example, CBD and THC) have different effects on the endocannabinoid system – and therefore on the body. They have found that it is THC which has the effect of making you feel high due to the way that it binds with some of the cannabinoid receptors.
This means that CBD doesn’t make you high, regardless of how much you take – as long as you don’t take any THC alongside it.
How can CBD Affect the Body?
The endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors are located all around the body and can affect a number of functions. These include:
- Body temperature
- Digestive issues
- Mood such as anxiety, stress or depression
- General health and well-being
Given that cats can also suffer from issues linked to these functions, it is only natural for cat lovers to question whether CBD might be able to help them too.
It can be, of course, difficult to know exactly what your furry friend is feeling. However, most attentive cat parents will know when their pet is out of sorts, not feeling ‘normal’ or just generally not happy, and this can give us a good indication of when or whether something is working or not.
It is important that if your cat isn’t well, that you see your vet and follow their instructions, as well as closely monitor their behaviour.
It is also important to note that due to the fact that medicinal cannabis research is still in its early stages there has been very little research carried out specifically on cats. This means that we are generally applying what we know about how it affects people and other animals that have been used in research, to cats.
What we do have, however, is plenty of anecdotal evidence from both holistic vets and cat owners.
The Endocannabinoid System and Cats
Research shows that all animals with a backbone (known as the Kingdom of Chordata) have an endocannabinoid system. It works in the same ways as the endocannabinoid system in humans, although scientists believe that the cannabinoid receptors are concentrated in slightly different areas.
Scientists believe that, in the same way as humans, if there is any problem with the endocannabinoid system, it can cause a range of potential health problems for your cat. Whether it is something specific, or general ill-health, it is thought that the endocannabinoid system could be boosted by giving them CBD.
Cats have similar cannabinoid receptors to people – CB1 and CB2 receptors – and it is with these receptors that the CBD can interact and make a difference in how they are feeling.
You can find out more about the endocannabinoid system in animals in this informative video.
How CBD Helps Cats
When you give CBD to your furry friend, the first thing to know is that as long as you use CBD made from hemp, they will not get high. Just as with people, it will usually enter the bloodstream and go around the body to the cannabinoid receptors where it will begin to do its work.
Hemp is a particular variety of cannabis which has been specifically cultivated to contain less than 0.2% THC in the UK – and 0.3% in the USA, for example. This is such a low level that you would have to consume a lot to get high from these CBD products.
Scientists have found that CBD works better when it is taken in conjunction with the other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant – albeit in very small amounts. This is known as full-spectrum CBD.
There is evidence to show that CBD can help with a number of health problems including:
- Panic attacks
- Joint pain
- Physical bodily pain
- Sleep problems
- Seizure disorders
CBD for Cats with Anxiety
You could be forgiven for thinking that psychological issues like anxiety and depression are purely human problems. Those who are close to their feline friends, however, would certainly disagree. Cats can get stressed and suffer from anxiety or depression especially at times such as when they are travelling, or they feel threatened by other animals.
CBD can help to regulate mood in both humans and animals. It is what is called ‘anxiolytic’ which means that it can reduce anxiety. Research carried out in Brazil in 2011 studied people with a social anxiety disorder and found that after they had taken CBD their anxiety was reduced in a public speaking task, and it is believed that this effect can also be applied to cats.
Whether your cat gets stressed when going in the car, if they are feeling threatened or when there are unfamiliar people or animals around, CBD might be able to help them to deal with the situation in a safe and non-addictive way.
CBD for Cats in Pain
There is evidence that shows that CBD can be useful for people and animals who are suffering from pain. The main reason for this is due to the fact that it has anti-inflammatory properties – and inflammation is often the cause of pain.
Research carried out by the University of South Carolina, the USA in 2010 shows that CBD has anti-inflammatory qualities which are very useful in having pain-relieving properties. It is safe to take and non-addictive – unlike some of the pain drugs which are given to people and animals currently. This is why scientists are so excited about pain relief being one of the potentials of CBD.
Health problems such as osteoarthritis are common in cats and it can be difficult for them to express when they are in pain. Many cat owners, however, notice a big difference in their much-loved kitties after using CBD.
This article published in 2008 by cannabis specialist, Ethan Russo, shows how there is growing evidence t show how CBD and other cannabinoids can be very useful in the relief of chronic pain as well as reducing inflammation.
CBD for Cats with Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can be a fairly common problem for cats. It occurs when their bodies are unable to use the insulin that it produces. There are many health issues that can be associated with diabetes in cats, and research shows that CBD might be able to help.
Health issues such as kidney damage, nerve damage, infections, gastrointestinal problems and pancreatic problems are all common amongst diabetic cats. Scientists believe that there are some issues that affect cats with diabetes that could be helped by CBD.
Research such as that carried out by Wellen and Hotamisligil in 2005 shows a link between inflammation and diabetes, and it is well-known that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. This suggests that CBD could be useful in helping cats to avoid diabetes.
There is also research carried out by the University of Calgary in 2010 which suggests that cannabinoids like CBD can be useful In treating neuropathic pain – a common problem with diabetic people and cats.
CBD for Cats with Cancer
Cancer in cats can be just as devastating as it is in humans for their families. They suffer many of the same kinds of cancer as we do, including lymphoma, breast cancer, leukaemia and skin cancer. There is growing evidence that CBD may be able to help to fight cancer.
Although there is still plenty of research that needs to be carried out, scientists are looking into whether CBD could be useful in fighting cancer. CBD can promote homeostasis in the body – which means helping to keep everything properly regulated. It is thought that this could include the prevention of cancerous cells spreading.
This research by Massi, Marta Solinas, Valentina Cinquina and Daniela Parolaro suggests that CBD can potentially be used as an anti-cancer drug – a very exciting prospect in the world of medicine.
It can also be very useful in helping to fight the nasty side effects of chemotherapy – such as severe nausea and pain. In fact, it is one of the few reasons why medical marijuana can be prescribed legally in the UK at the moment.
CBD for Over Aggressive Cats
There are a number of reasons why cats can become over aggressive – often linked to past issues, hormonal problems and fear. Thanks to its anxiolytic properties (it’s ability to help to reduce anxiety) it is believed that CBD can also help over-aggressive cats.
Scientists believe that CBD can affect both serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. These can have an effect on the cat’s mood and help to calm over-aggressive cats.
Since researchers believe that the reasons for aggressive cats often rest on anxiety, the fact that it can help to reduce anxiety shows that it is likely that CBD could be very useful in calming your overly aggressive kitty down.
Of course, there may also be other reasons why your cat is very aggressive, and it is important that you get to the bottom of this – perhaps by working with your vet.
With or Without THC for Cats?
There is evidence to show that CBD can be highly effective when it is taken with THC for people. Some medical marijuana for humans that is available also has higher levels of THC. However, in the UK, only CBD products made from hemp are allowed for animals.
THC would have the same effect on your cat as it would on a person, and so you shouldn’t give them high amounts of THC. The effects of THC can be very distressing for a cat, so you should avoid it at all costs.
You can only get CBD products for pets which are made from industrial hemp and therefore with less than 0.2% THC, meaning that they cannot get high. In fact, it would be highly irresponsible to give THC to your cat.
A Range of Delivery Methods for Cats
There are a number of different ways that you can give CBD to your furry friend. Some cats prefer to be given it in a treat form, or other owners prefer to give it to them via CBD oil. Each method has its pros and cons and should be decided on depending on your cat and what you are using it for.
Some people like to use CBD which can be added to food, given via a dropper or rubbed into your cat’s gums. Other people prefer to give their cat CBD treats or capsules. CBD which is rubbed into the gums gets to work very quickly as it enters the bloodstream via the blood vessels close to the surface of the mouth and you can get fairly accurate dosing.
If you prefer to give your cat their CBD via food or dropper, it takes longer to get into the system as it works through the digestive system. However, it also stays in the system for longer, and you can get very accurate dosages if you know that they have eaten the whole treat or capsule.
Of course, if you have other pets it is important to ensure that the CBD is taken by the intended cat and not curiously hungry animals.
CBD can be Great for Cats
Just as in humans, CBD can have some great effects on your cat. It might not be able to cure your cat of all of its ailments but should certainly help them with their general health and well-being. You should never stop seeing your vet when it comes to your cat, but CBD can be very useful in keeping your kitty fit and healthy.
CBD is being increasingly recognised as a positive thing for humans, cats and other animals. More and more holistic vets are using CBD to help to treat cats and give their endocannabinoid system a boost.
In the same way as humans, everybody and every cat can react slightly differently to CBD. Although there are no known adverse side effects for cats, it is important to keep an eye on how your cat is behaving after you have given them CBD. Make sure that you make their vet aware of what you are doing.
Giving your Cat the Right Dose
It is important that if you are going to try CBD for your cat, you get the dosage right. Too much or too little CBD can be ineffective, and this is why it is important that you also consult your holistic vet before starting CBD with your cat.
The best way to start with CBD – as in with humans – is to start with a very low dosage and then gradually increase it over time. Keep increasing it until you perceive that it is at the best level for your furry friend.
The amount that you give them will usually depend on the reason why you are giving it to your cat, and its size. As a general rule of thumb, you should give roughly 0.3mg per lb of body weight of your cat to start off.
Getting the Best CBD for your Cat
One of the problems with the CBD industry is that it is largely unregulated. In fact, most of the regulation is carried out by the responsible CBD companies. It is therefore important that you get the right CBD products for your cat.
The best way to make sure that you are getting the best quality CBD products for your cat is to firstly go by recommendations from other cat parents or vets. When you are buying cat CBD products check that you can see a third party, independent lab test certificate of analysis.
A certificate of analysis will tell you exactly what is in the product, giving you a breakdown of all of the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids as well as let you know if the hemp has been organically grown, hasn’t been exposed to nasty chemicals or pesticides and no heavy metals which can also be harmful to your kitty.
This is exactly what you should also do if you are thinking of buying CBD for yourself as well.
As we see CBD rise in popularity the world over in humans it is not surprising that pet owners are keen to see how it can help their four-legged friends as well. The fact that we both share the endocannabinoid system is a great indicator that it could also be very effective for cats.
Although it can be difficult to know exactly what your pets are thinking, most pet owners who have a close relationship with their beloved animals will be able to tell you if and when they are in distress, pain – or indeed, are calm and happy.
The lack of specific evidence regarding CBD for cats is not surprising – as we are still in the midst of a wealth of research being carried out regarding CBD for humans. However, applying everything that we know about CBD, the endocannabinoid system, cats and people, it seems like it can certainly be beneficial to felines.
CBD is safe to use on cats, with no adverse side effects, but it is still important that you talk to your local holistic vet before giving CBD to your cat to ensure that it is done in the right way, and for the best effects for your kitty.
It is believed that CBD can be very helpful for cats who are suffering from a range of health problems as well as giving their general well-being and health a boost, helping to protect them from future health issues.
If you have a cat who you think could benefit from CBD, contact your local holistic vet and why not give CBD a go? Your cat could thank you for it!