Can CBD help anxiety in cats? [What you need to know]

CBD Oil for Cats?

As in humans, anxiety is something that cats suffer from when they become stressed out by a situation. Cats become on edge when they sense danger, and they move into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, psychologically preparing themselves to take major action to avoid harm.

This effect can be devastating and stressful for a cat, severely affecting their mood and quality of life.

As cat owners look for ways to keep their little ones happy and healthy, they’re starting to explore alternatives.  Among these alternative treatments is CBD products for anxiety. 

This isn’t much of a surprise, considering that more people are turning to CBD as a natural treatment for their health issues and research studies have consistently shown the plant’s positive impact on anxiety, inflammation, and other ailments. However, as many human studies as there are, there have been no official major scientific studies on cats.

So, is CBD safe for cats? And can it be used to treat anxiety in cats? Let look at what is CBD and how it can help with anxiety in felines. 

What Is CBD?

Hemp plants contain more than 100 active compounds, but the one most often used for medicinal purposes is cannabidiol or CBD. CBD differs from hemp’s major active compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in that it does not have a psychoactive effect, meaning it will not get users “high” and can be used for therapeutic purposes.

“There are not many classical medical studies that explore the effects of CBD in cats,” says Dr. Daniel Inman, a veterinarian at Burlington Emergency Veterinary Specialists in Williston, Vermont. “While we don’t recommend CBD oil for our patients, holistic veterinarians are using it to treat a variety of ailments, including inflammation, anxiety, and pain.”

Inman is careful to specify that CBD is often used to subjectively increase comfort and improve quality of life for cats, not necessarily cure ailments. This type of treatment should be advised by your veterinarian.

Can CBD help anxiety in cats?

CBD is an anxiolytic and can help calm feelings of fear or stress and treat symptoms of anxiety in cats.

As researchers continue uncovering the mysteries of the endocannabinoid system, they’re constantly finding new ways to use this powerful compound both as a supplement and medicine.

Preliminary research suggests CBD interacts with a specific serotonin receptor in the brain known as 5-HT1A.

It’s believed that CBD temporarily increases serotonin activity in the brain, which is believed to help boost mood and relieve anxiety symptoms.

For now, the effectiveness of CBD for cats is largely solidified from the vast amount of anecdotal evidence given by cat owners. If you have a fearful cat, using CBD might help comfort it.

Will CBD oil make your cat high?

Short answer, no. CBD can be extracted from a cannabis plant, but it doesn’t have the same ability to create a “high” or state of euphoria as marijuana or THC.

Your cat may feel calmer when using CBD as CBD’s effects are more relaxing vs a high feeling.

Is CBD Safe for Cats?

Although there have been no scientific studies that specifically investigate the impact of cannabidiol on cats, Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian and owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, says that CBD is generally safe for cats. However, there can be some adverse effects to giving your cat CBD, including gastrointestinal upset and some sedation, both of which can be relieved by discontinuing the use of the CBD.

“I think the bigger issue, from a medical perspective, is making sure that animals are dosed properly. This means that the CBD is having the effect you want it to have and that you’re not accidentally overdosing,” he says.

 “Pet owners looking to give their animals CBD should do their due diligence before purchasing anything online,” Richter says.”  Bottom Line:  People should make it a point to know what they are getting and what they paid for.

Is CBD Legal?

Regardless of how well CBD products work for cats, there is also the issue of legality. If the CBD product contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it’s classified as hemp, which is not a restricted substance. Most, if not all, CBD oil fits this description. The bigger issue is discussing the course of treatment with your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian should be able to discuss CBD treatment as an option for your pet, but depending on where you live, your veterinarian may or may not be legally at liberty to have this conversation with you,” Richter says. “Even if you live in a state where CBD is legal, it can be illegal for a veterinarian to tell a pet owner how to appropriately use these products.”

Discussing CBD with Your Veterinarian

Cat being examined by vet with blue gloves

Being able to discuss all types of treatments with your veterinarian is key, and Dr. Richter advises checking in with your vet before giving your pet CBD. “There’s no reason to ever start giving any kind of medication or supplement without having a conversation with your veterinarian first,” he says. Choose CBD Products Carefully

If you and your veterinarian decide that you should try CBD as a treatment for your cat, there are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing CBD. Not all oils are the same; you’ll want a high-quality CBD product to have a better chance of it working.

Because CBD, especially for pets, is largely unregulated, it can be difficult to know which products have been formulated responsibly, are free from contaminants, and contain the ingredients that the product labels list.

So, when shopping, whether online or in a retail store, look for products that claim to follow Good Manufacturing Practices.  These practices increase the chance that a product has been made with safe ingredients in a clean, high-quality environment according to Stephen Cital, a veterinary technician, cannabinoid consultant, and co-founder of the Veterinary Cannabis Academy.

Wondering whether you should give your cat a CBD product meant for humans?  While that may be fine, “some human products have other things in them, such as xylitol or grapeseed oil, that could be toxic to the animals,” Cital says.

And be particularly cautious about products that also contain THC. While some veterinarians use it to treat certain conditions in animals, experts don't recommend that you experiment with this on your own.

Look for the Product’s Certificate of Analysis

For any CBD product for you or your pet, your best bet is to find a company that has certified independent third-party testing and can provide a Certificate of Analysis, or COA.

The lab results should show how much CBD (and THC) the product contains, as well as how the product did in tests checking for contaminants such as heavy metals and fungicides.  According to Cital, if you can’t find a COA on the company’s website or the company refuses to share it, that's a red flag.

Dose Gradually

Although some CBD products have dosing instructions on the label, little is really known about what doses are most effective.

Until more is known, the experts urge caution. Dr. Judy Morgan, DVM advises that you “start low and go slow” when figuring out a dosage for your cat.  She also suggests that using tinctures rather than a chew treat can make it easier to scale dosages up or down. 

Store Products Carefully

Frank Lewis, Chief of Technical Operations at Envy Hemp, is always concerned about a product’s shelf life and stability.  Cannabinoids are susceptible to degradation. CBD products should be kept at room temperature away from bright lights or sunlight. 

Heating and extreme cold can dramatically change chemical composition.  If you have a CBD product that has changed color (usually pinkish), it has probably decomposed and should be replaced. And if you see a separation of product, ingredients floating around, or ingredients settled at the bottom, it may be an indication of microbe growth or a separation of the ingredients from an unstable emulsion.

 

 

 

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