Cat owners, just like any other pet owner, have a lot of love and often worry for their furry feline friends. Naturally, when their cat starts to show signs of illness, owners quickly start to look for a solution. Veterinarian sciences have made some incredible advances in health and wellness for our pets. However, the medications that are often used may not always be the solution. Some cats are allergic to medications, or the prescription is not sufficient to return the cat to health on its own.
When faced with the inadequacies of current prescription drugs, many pet owners have been turning to more holistic solutions for their cat’s ailments. Recently, CBD has risen as a potential option.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound derived from plants in the Cannabis family (Marijuana and Hemp, to name the most well-known). There is a lot of misconception surrounding CBD. One of these is that people often confuse it with another compound found in the same plants, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Both cannabinoids are prevalent in the flowers and leaves of all Cannabis plants. However, CBD and THC produce radically different effects in our bodies.
THC is the compound that creates the high that is most often associated with Cannabis. CBD, on the other hand, is much less intense. CBD does have effects on the brain effectively to promote a calming effect and will not give you the high that THC does. CBD also does not impair cognitive functions as THC can. It should be noted that THC should not be given to cats.
CBD may be found in all plants in the Cannabis family. However, most CBD manufacturers are more likely to use Hemp instead of Marijuana. This is because Hemp has much higher concentrations of CBD, while Marijuana is richer in THC.
CBD is often used by humans to relieve stress, help with their epilepsy, use for skincare, or to help with any number of ailments. Now pet owners and holistic veterinarians have started using CBD for similar benefits for their household pets, including cats.
CBD for cats?
Cat owners have been using CBD to help their cats with several different problems. Cats and humans both have cannabinoid receptors (the receptors that interact with cannabinoids like CBD and THC); this could be the reason why cats and humans seem to be affected by CBD in similar ways.
As with humans, cats may benefit from CBD to help with epilepsy, relieve stress, and the conditions of their coats and skin.
Inflammation may be a side effect of all kinds of pain issues in cats, including arthritis and pancreatitis. A study done at Cornell University showed that CBD could help with pain experienced by arthritic dogs. The study found that CBD may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the trouble areas. This could possibly lead to less pain and better movement. As this study showed, CBD had great effects on dogs, and it is likely that it could work well with cats too.
Epilepsy and seizures are not overly common in cats. But that does not mean that cats never suffer from these issues, and CBD may be able to help. Many holistic vets and cat owners have reported a drop in the number of seizures their epileptic cat has suffered since they started giving them CBD. CBD will not cure your cat’s epilepsy but may be able to help.
CBD has been known to help increase the production of serotonin and dopamine. Both of these are compounds that could have a positive effect on mood and attitude. Most of the studies that have shown improvement in mental well being are focused on people. However, many pet owners and vets have reported improvements in a cat’s anxiety after starting with CBD. This could possibly help with separation anxiety, former feral cats who may still be skittish at home or anxiety caused by situations that are potentially distressing for cats (like car rides to the vet).
Many cats suffer from dry skin, an affliction that often makes their coats dull and dry. CBD is becoming a common option to improve skin health among humans. Now holistic veterinarians are recommending CBD to help with pets’ skin. CBD may help hydrate the skin and, as a result, improve the coat, making it shinier and softer.
Another common feline affliction is Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). This is a condition that may cause much discomfort and may even cause them to lose weight. While vets do not recommend using only CBD for IBD, some do report improvements when it is used alongside a special diet.
There are other owners who give their cats CBD just to improve their overall health. These owners often report their cats having higher activity levels and better skin and coats with less shedding.
Will CBD have any side effects on my cat?
There are multiple studies on the effects of CBD. Most are on humans and laboratory animals; some are on dogs. Unfortunately, it appears that few (if any) studies are focused on cats. However, many owners report that CBD has been beneficial for their pets.
CBD is unlikely to have your cat running around and acting crazy like they might when you give them catnip. In fact, CBD may have the opposite effect. Some owners report that CBD has a sedating effect on their cat. Owners also report that this sedation does go away quickly after they stop giving CBD to their cat or decrease the amount or frequency at which they dose CBD. Veterinarians and owners have also found that CBD may sometimes lead to a gastrointestinal upset in cats. Like the sedation, this quickly alleviated by stopping or decreasing the dosage.
The best way to avoid these side effects is by starting the amount of CBD you give to your cat at low levels. You should start with low CBD concentration and give your cat only a little bit initially. If there are no negative observations, you may try slowly increasing how much your cat is taking. You should also be sure that the THC level in your CBD product is low. Most products will contain a small amount of THC. That small amount is unlikely to harm your cat, but you should also be sure that it is a low concentration.
Be sure to discuss with your veterinarian before you start giving your cat CBD. If you do decide to try starting your cat on a CBD regimen, keep an eye on your cat when you start them with whatever pet product you’ve selected. Pay attention to their napping and eating schedule and note if there are clear and worrying changes. If there are, stop or reduce the amount of CBD and talk with your cat’s vet.
How do I give my cat CBD?
Cats may sometimes be difficult to give medication to. They are not always as eager and trusting as dogs and won’t necessarily take a pill wrapped in lunchmeat or covered in peanut butter. In fact, getting a cat to sit still long enough to do anything may often be a challenge. So, how do you get them to take CBD?
Cannabis oil for cats comes in several different forms. However, most of the forms are made with humans in mind. If you are trying to give a CBD product to your cat, the easiest way is CBD drops. Drops are tinctures generally made with different concentrations of CBD oil and palm oil that are dispensed with a dropper. You may simply put a drop directly into your cat’s mouth or mix it in with their food or treats. Panacea Life Sciences is developing a feline-specific formula that will make it easier to provide beneficial CBD to your cat that will launch late spring 2020.
Because of the plants that CBD is derived from, some of the oils may be rather bitter in taste. If your cat is a picky eater, you may find drops with different flavors like mixed berry or vanilla that may be easier on their palate.
If you would like to use CBD to help with your cat’s coat and/or skin, the easiest way to go about it is by applying it directly to their skin or fur. Feeding them, the CBD may also help, but the direct application seems to work better for skincare. Applying the CBD directly to inflamed areas may also be a more direct way to help with your cat’s pain potentially.
There are not many CBD products made for cats. However, there are some that are made for dogs, and cat owners have reported that those work just as well. Many also just use the products made for people using smaller doses.
If your cat is already on medication, be sure to talk and work with your vet before starting your cat on CBD.
Anyone with a pet knows that they are more than just a pet; they are a part of the family. Cats are no exception. So, it is understandable that owners want to find the best way to take care of them. CBD may not be the solution for all of your pet’s problems, but it appears that it may help.