Should you give your cat CBD to help their anxiety, skin issues, or joint pain? Here’s our take on the growing trend for pet CBD products.
The market for pet CBD products has quickly grown over the past few years. The trend began with CBD oil for dogs, which are used to help treat canine anxiety and arthritis.
Since then, pet owners, academic researchers, and even vets have claimed that CBD offers benefits for other types of pets – including cats.
So what exactly is CBD, why do people recommend it as a pet supplement, and should you try it with your cat, dog, or horse?
What is CBD?
CBD is an anti-inflammatory compound that’s extracted from hemp plants and infused into oils, balms, snacks, and other products.
Hemp is a mild species of cannabis plant that contains several naturally occurring cannabinoids, a type of chemical that has an active effect on the body’s inflammatory and immune systems.
CBD is one of many similar cannabinoids. Others include CBC, CBG, and CBN. Many CBD products contain a mix of different cannabinoids.
What does CBD do?
CBD and other cannabinoids interact with a part of the body called the endocannabinoid system, which humans, dogs, and cats all share.
The endocannabinoid system affects all major organs and helps to control the release of hormones and pain signals. As a result, it plays a role in stress and sleep responses, as well as the activation of inflammation.
Research shows that CBD can cause the endocannabinoid system to lower inflammation and pain, and help to restore balance in overstimulated, inflamed bodies.
Why do some people recommend CBD for pets?
Many of the most common feline and canine health issues have inflammatory elements. Arthritis and hip pain often involve swelling of joint tissues, while skin allergies can create irritated skin.
Pet stress and anxiety are also partly inflammation-based disorders. Other, less common disorders such as seizures and cancers can dramatically increase inflammation in pets’ bodies.
CBD is safe for pets, and acts like an anti-inflammatory supplement. Taking it alongside or instead of traditional treatments may help to reduce some of the symptoms of these common ailments.
CBD for cats
Now that pet CBD has become an established industry, many brands produce oil tinctures and treats specifically tailored to feline tastes and needs.
What is CBD for cats?
There are two main types of CBD for cats: CBD oils and CBD treats.
CBD oils contain a hemp extract, a high-fat oil to help with digestion, and any flavorings to make the product more appealing to cats. Many owners prefer to use oils to give their cats hemp supplements because it’s easier to give an exact dosage.
CBD treats contain a hemp extract infused into a standard cat treat recipe. Many manufacturers take care to make their treats using clean, whole ingredients that won’t irritate cats’ stomachs or digestive systems.
All of these products contain pet-safe hemp – CBD that’s been produced to provide high levels of anti-inflammatory cannabinoids, and none of the mind-altering effects associated with human cannabis.
Feline CBD products may also contain other soothing anti-inflammatory supplements such as fish oils or chamomile. Sometimes, brands infuse meaty flavors in their treats and oils to help with palatability.
Is cat CBD similar to Catnip?
Many cat owners will have given their pets Catnip at some point. Most cats love to roll around in Catnip powder, or sniff and rub on Catnip toys. (Though, up to 30 percent of cats have no interest in catnip).
The way that cats interact with Catnip suggests they get some form of inebriation or high from the plant, which may lead some to wonder if there’s any relation between catnip and cannabis.
While both are widely known and used herbs, the hemp plants used to make pet CBD are different from the plants used for Catnip.
Catnip is a member of the mint family. It contains the active component nepetalactone, which is through to trigger endorphin release in cats.
Hemp is a non-intoxicating variety of cannabis plant. It doesn’t contain the cannabinoids required to produce a mind-altering effect. In fact, THC and other inebriating cannabinoids found in human cannabis products are considered toxic for cats, and should always be kept well away from them.
Does cat CBD work?
Here are some of the most popular uses for cat CBD among owners:
- Mild allergies
- Territory anxiety
- Separation anxiety
- Sleeping issues
- Stress-related immune issues
- Bad behavior
- Clingy behavior
- Wintertime depression
- Joint pain and arthritis
CBD for cats with allergies, overgrooming, and skin issues
Cats are more likely than other pets to develop mild allergies to things in their environment – especially their food. Even if a cat has been eating the same food product for years, it’s possible for them to become intolerant or allergic, usually to the main protein ingredient.
Symptoms of mild food allergies in cats include loose stool, vomiting, and inflamed, itchy skin. This itchiness may cause a cat to begin overgrooming, pulling out their hair in an attempt to soothe the irritation.
Solving a feline food allergy issue involves identifying the allergen(s) and switching recipes or products. But to help with any skin inflammation, supplementing with CBD oil can be a good idea.
The good fats found in CBD oils may also contribute to healthy, shiny fur. Hemp seed oil in particular is a rich source of beneficial Omega 3 and 6 acids.
Cats recovering from a bout of fleas may experience skin redness, soreness, and itching – both from the fleas themselves and chemical treatments used to destroy the parasites. Sometimes, cats can make these issues worse by overgrooming or fussing over the affected area.
In these cases, supplementing with a CBD oil, or using a topical CBD cream treatment on a cat’s skin, can be an effective salve.
CBD for cats with anxiety or stress
Today’s cat owners are more likely to keep their pets indoors than allowing them to roam free. But even cats who stick to their own backyards may experience stress and anxiety related to defending their territory.
When cats sense the presence of other moggies in their local neighborhood, it can trigger a territory war, especially if two cats share a fence or garden wall.
Cats may become obsessed with patrolling the yard or can begin excessively spraying the borders of your property to mark their territory. With cat urine having a distinct, pungent smell, this can become quite unpleasant.
If a cat is spraying frequently due to anxiety over territory, using CBD oil may help. CBD can soothe anxious animals, allowing owners to employ distraction or training techniques.
In the same way, a CBD regime may help cats adjust to lifestyle changes within the home. Many moggies struggle to accept the presence of a new pet or baby and may develop anxiety. CBD is one potential pathway to a solution.
Cats are less susceptible to separation anxiety than dogs, partly thanks to their crepuscular sleep cycles, which means they’re most awake and engaged during the mornings and evenings – when owners are more likely to be at home.
But many cats still have trouble being comfortable in an empty house when their owners leave for work, especially if they were bought during the pandemic and have become accustomed to a work-from-home lifestyle.
CBD can help with separation anxiety, by encouraging calm in moments of heightened stress. Using CBD as part of a wider effort, along with behavioral training and conditioning, will help cats to develop better coping habits.
Most cats spend at least half the day napping – so if you notice your cat has begun sleeping less, it may be a sign that something’s amiss.
Just like humans, cats can struggle to sleep when they feel anxious or in a state of high alert. New sounds, smells, objects, or animals can all trigger a bout of feline sleeplessness.
Because CBD affects the endocannabinoid system – a key part of a cat’s sleep/wake cycle – it may help them to “reset” their body and recover normal sleeping habits.
CBD for cats with stress-related immune issues
Stress over territory, predators, and the other issues above can all affect how well your cat’s body deals with bacteria, viruses, and inflammation.
As a result, a stressed cat is more likely to develop health conditions and may become more susceptible to pathogens and diseases.
Research suggests that CBD can help restore “homeostasis” in the body, the scientific term for a state of natural balance. This lowers stress, helping to strengthen cats’ immune systems.
CBD for cats with bad behavior
Acting out due to anxiety
CBD isn’t a sedative, and dosing a cat with any type of supplement or medication isn’t an appropriate response to bad behavior.
However, some bad behavior from cats can be due to wider environmental or health issues, such as boredom or anxiety. If you suspect that your cat is acting out due to fear, nervousness, or stress, then CBD may help to relieve the discomfort underlying their behavior.
Just like those cats who deliberately do things they shouldn’t, cats that are “clingy” and refuse to be left alone for a second may also be demonstrating anxiety systems.
Again, CBD supplementation may be a great way to help reset things and help cats develop better habits.
CBD for cats with Wintertime anxiety or depression
Yes, cats can get depressed too! According to a 2007 survey, one in three cat owners found that their pet seems sadder and less playful during the winter months. Many vets theorize that the low levels of light during wintertime can adversely affect cats in similar ways to humans, causing sleepiness, lethargy, and apathy.
The best ways to help a kitty beat the winter blues are exposure to light sources, higher temperatures, and more opportunities for play. But CBD can also play a role in counteracting any built-up stress.
CBD for cats with joint pain
One of the most popular uses for CBD in dogs is to reduce joint pain and inflammation. And while issues like hip dysplasia and arthritis are far more common in dogs than in cats, aging felines can also develop stiffness and pain in their backs and legs.
Research performed on mice, dogs, and humans has demonstrated CBD’s ability to act as a powerful anti-inflammatory when taken regularly. CBD acts on the tissues surrounding damaged joints, preventing swelling, thereby reducing pain and supporting improved mobility.
Is CBD for cats safe?
In general, CBD is a highly safe supplement with a mild side effect profile and no record of causing serious illness. CBD has been used for years by dog owners – as well as a growing population of cat owners.
It is however important to acknowledge that cats are smaller, lighter, and often more sensitive than their canine companions. That means extra care is needed when choosing and administering a cat CBD product.
Whenever you’re giving your cat CBD or other supplements for the first time, make sure to choose an appropriate product and use a small dose. Observe your pet carefully for any changes in behavior.
Remember: all pet CBD products must be made from hemp plants, which contain very low levels of the mind-altering cannabinoid THC. Giving a cat cannabis products designed for human consumption may result in poisoning, serious illness, and even death.
CBD for dogs
CBD products for dogs were the first examples of hemp extracts developed for use by animals, and they remain the biggest pet CBD sector, by far.
How is CBD oil for dogs different from CBD oil for cats?
Many CBD brands offer similar products for dogs and cats – oils and treats containing a hemp extract.
CBD products for dogs tend to be stronger, with larger concentrations of CBD intended for dogs with a higher body mass.
Some companies also produce chews and other dog-specific treats that cats wouldn’t normally enjoy.
When it comes to the type of CBD itself, however, both dogs and cats benefit from a mild mix of non-intoxicating cannabinoids, derived from a hemp source.
Does it work?
Because CBD for dogs is a popular and older trend, there’s a greater body of evidence to show its effects. Several academic studies have even been commissioned to investigate how CBD interacts with dogs’ bodies.
The main uses of canine CBD are to reduce inflammation in dogs experiencing separation anxiety, arthritis, and joint pain.
CBD for dogs with separation anxiety
The internet is awash with stories from owners about how CBD helped their dogs to overcome nervousness and symptoms of anxiety.
While there are reports of CBD having no effect in some nervous dogs, the proportion of positive responses seems to suggest that CBD’s soothing powers are legitimate.
The best results often appear to occur when owners use CBD in conjunction with tried-and-tested training techniques like crating and conditioning. Some canine behavioral experts theorize that CBD helps dogs to remain in a calmer state of mind, which makes them more receptive to owner cues.
CBD for dogs with arthritis
Several studies by institutions like Baylor Veterinary College and Cornell University have found that CBD improves arthritis symptoms in dogs under laboratory conditions.
When dogs with joint disease or degeneration are given regular CBD supplements for between two weeks and a month, they often show signs of increased mobility and decreased pain – as assessed by both owners are canine health experts.
CBD for dogs with seizures
Certain breeds of dogs can be prone to epilepsy and seizures disorders, sometimes without a cure. In these cases, studies suggest that CBD may be able to reduce seizure frequency and intensity.
One of the first serious use cases for CBD in dogs and humans was for treating seizures. In fact, it remains the only FDA-approved use of CBD products.
CBD for other animals
Today, there’s a wide world of pet CBD products to discover. With growing awareness of the benefits of hemp supplements, plus the relaxation of cannabis laws across the country, there are more pet stores and pet brands offering CBD than ever before.
What other pets and animals can take CBD?
The biggest market for pet CBD beyond dogs and cats is in horses. Horse owners use CBD on their animals to help them with common conditions like Laminitis and Equine Metabolic Syndrome – irritation of the hoof and difficulties with properly digesting carbohydrates.
Riders have also reported skittish horses performing with a calmer demeanor when supplementing with CBD, becoming less reactive to surprises, and responding more efficiently to commands.
CBD for horses is made with much higher concentrations of active ingredients to match the animals’ size, so it goes without saying that cats and dogs shouldn’t be given horse CBD products.
What’s the future of pet CBD?
In the past decade, pet CBD has grown from a niche alternative treatment into a mainstream supplement. Pet CBD brands now do big business online, and pet stores regularly stock a selection of CBD products.
In the future, expect to see even bigger names in pet products get involved in CBD – think Amazon and PetCo. Also expect to see a greater number of veterinarians being officially recommending CBD supplementation, as clinical evidence mounts.
- Pet CBD began in the form of canine treats and oils, before expanding to products for cats and even horses.
- Pet CBD products contain anti-inflammatory hemp extracts, made from non-intoxicating breeds of cannabis plants.
- It’s possible to find CBD products in the form of oils, topical creams, balms, and treats, all designed to make it easier for owners to give their pets CBD.
- Regularly supplementing with CBD has been shown to help lower inflammation in pets’ bodies. This can reduce inflammatory-based symptoms such as pain, swelling, itchiness, and anxiety.
- As a result, CBD is viewed by many pet owners and healthcare professionals as a legitimate way to support cats and other pets with inflammatory disorders.