Does CBD Oil Help Cats? Top 5 Benefits

For many cats, CBD or cannabidiol is one of the best alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs to assist felines with ailments of the body and mind. CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant, with strong anti inflammatory, analgesic and anti anxiety effects. It’s great for a huge range of issues cats encounter, without having side effects or being addictive. It’s proven to work for humans in studies – but can CBD oil also help cats? Felines can benefit from it but the effects may be a bit different. Let’s take a look at how this amazing product is already assisting many pet owners with their cat’s health issues and how your cat might also be able to benefit. Key to its delivery of helpful effects is the endocannabinoid system or ECS. This is present in all mammals including cats and influences their metabolism, immunity and homeostasis. Because of this CBD is able to improve a cat’s health from a range of dimensions – from mood, immune support, stress, anxiety and more. So what are the top benefits for your cat? Let’s examine this powerful compound and why more and more cat owners are turning to it.

What is CBD oil for cats? Brief history

CBD and other cannabinoids like THC were only discovered in the late 20th century after the medicinal properties of cannabis were becoming more and more evident. Scientists have since identified hundreds of bioactive cannabinoid compounds in the plant, each carrying distinct but highly useful effects. Hemp or CBD oil is extracted from industrial hemp, which is used to produce textiles, food, paper products and even protein powder. THC is another cannabinoid that also occurs in cannabis, responsible for its renowned ‘high’ – however with hemp plants they contain CBD only (they’re bred by design to contain no THC). The extraction process is the same as with the CBD. First, cannabis concentrates formed from cropping and drying the plant are extracted and converted into refined oil by means of decarboxylation. Depending on the type of cannabis, the THC and CBD content vary. Hemp contains less than 0.2% THC while marijuana strains will contain both CBD, THC plus other cannabinoids. The blend of these is what causes the differing effects of particular strains. Some can create a stimulating or energizing effect – typical sativas. Indica’s contain more CBD and are relaxing, calming and can aid with sleep (CBD promotes sleep). The complication here is THC has an intoxicating and psychoactive effect on both animals and humans. For dogs and cats it’s actually toxic and should never be taken or provided to them. It can cause liver toxicity and poisoning in both these animals. 

Benefits for Cats

Cannabidiol interacts with the endocannabinoid system in cats to deliver its payload of beneficial anti-inflammatory effects. It does this by stimulating the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the cats brain and body tissues, triggering the production and release of the beneficial endocannabinoid compounds. There are several key endocannabinoids of note, with the most important being anandamide. What are the benefits of these compounds for cats? 

  1. Arthritis

It’s been shown time and time again that CBD is able to reduce inflammation. One of the key and most important areas of inflammation reduction is in joints – particularly those impacted by arthritis. There have been many clinical studies looking at how CBD reduces swelling and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis – which is common in both cats and humans. It helps to block the sensations triggered from the nerve pain receptors, helping prevent and allow pain to reside. There are already steroid-like drugs including sprays and sublinguals for CBD that have been clinically produced to assist with those suffering from chronic pain problems such as sativex (for humans). Antioxidants in CBD oil are also able to help in mitigating and reversing the damage of oxidative stress related inflammatory illnesses like arthritis. Free radicals that cause this are present in smoke, pollution and sun exposure – however for arthritis this is largely due to bacteria. CBD comes into its own for pain reduction and management for chronic issues that can impact mobility and joint health like osteoarthritis (where the actual joint or bone within the joint becomes significantly weaker and bone density reduces). 

When these types of ailments strike they are often chronic in nature and worsen over time. The pain and mobility problems resulting can be very negative to the health of your pet and impact their quality of life. Mobility issues in cats can cause weight gain from reduced movement and other subsequent health problems as an outcome of the chronic pain meaning the animal moves less and loses confidence. These issues are also known to affect both dogs and cats at very high frequencies, with around 60% or more expected to display symptoms of arthritis as they age and the joints wear down. As we know cats love to jump, climb and run. This movement keeps them active and healthy. To maintain a good healthy life for your cat, the cat needs to stay mobile and active. CBD oil for cats may help to assist in both directly reducing symptoms of arthritis causing mobility reduction while also mitigating the pain caused by this frustrating ailment. It can provide many cats the ability to gain some movement back and may keep them fit physically.

  1. Stress and anxiety in cats

Dogs, cats and many other animals are susceptible to anxiety and stress much like humans. This can be caused by a range of both environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors but the end result is a large release of cortisol (stress hormone) that leads to increases in weight gain, reduced muscle mass, lowered immunity and other health issues. Anxiety is particularly problematic – this chronic mental condition is a disorder which is composed of constant negative thought patterns and stress. It affects many and leads to chronic stress and mental imbalance from worry. Animals like cats and dogs can also be affected by anxiety like humans, causing fear and potentially susceptibility to being frightened by loud noises, cars or other environmental factors.

Triggering the ECS and its anti anxiety supporting effects is key to how CBD oil is able to help manage and reduce anxiety in cats (as well as humans). By doing so cortisol gets lowered which enables long term stress reduction and bodily functions to improve. This mechanic can also help your cat with its mood, enabling it to remain calm, composed and happy if it’s prone to fear or scared or loud noises like thunder. By using CBD oil many cat owners have anecdotally noted they’ve seen a positive change in their cats behavior such as reductions in scratching and chewing things from being anxious. Try it with your cat today – you will see a change in their temperament if they’re prone to being fearful.

  1. Seizures 

One of the most promising and well researched areas of study with CBD oil’s effects is its noted improvement in seizure strength and frequency for those individuals suffering from epilepsy. This has been shown in both human children and adult subjects (although there is less research on animals). Seizures are caused by conditions in the brain which result in neurons firing incorrectly and motor neurons overfiring which means the body can become unresponsive and convulse. The effects of this are also seen in pets like cats and dogs. CBD oil is able to prevent the effects of seizures in some cases, and mitigate or reduce their length and frequency in others. Clinical drugs are being developed in some countries to harness this effect and make it deliverable in a repeatable, measured fashion. It’s a true progression of medicine and likely the single most researched effect of CBD medically. It’s not yet known whether the same process applies for feline physiology but there is much promise and potential for the future. 

  1. Moisturizing skin and fur

Hemp oil contains a number of healthy fatty acids and omega 3 long chain fats. Similar to other seeds like flax, chia and healthy fatty plants like avocado and olive, hemp seed in particular is rich in these fats which can keep skin healthy, glowing and young in both humans and cats. Long Chain fatty acids in hemp are key to retaining moisture in the skin and fur of cats, alongside a healthy and rich diet (which can contain some, although minimal plant products – cats are carnivores). The oil from hemp can be topically applied to both human and cat skin or fur to enrich the nutrients on the surface of the skin, while also boosting the health of underlying layers. It’ll keep your pet’s fur smooth, strong and shiny, making sure your furry friend is happy and content. Psoriasis, eczema and other dry skin conditions or skin allergies can also be mitigated from the moisturization and nourishment that topical CBD products provide. We like to use CBD oil and jojoba daily for our cat’s fur health and sheen. 

  1. Gut health and inflammation in cats

Much like humans, cats can become afflicted with issues of the bowel, most of which result from bacterial imbalance or inflammatory conditions. A recent study from Queensland University in Australia showed CBD had antibacterial and anti-microbial properties. It’s known that other cannabinoids like CBG in hemp are also similarly anti microbial. Hemp oil is able to calm the gut and offer benefits to gut inflammation and the gut biome. This can result in marked improvements in the irritation and uncomfortable bloating or pains from issues like irritable bowel syndrome, colitis or leaky gut. CBD may help in balancing the gut environment to improve body health.

Increasingly the link between gut health, serotonin and a range of bodily functions like immunity and sleep is becoming more and more well known in the scientific community. Keeping the immune system strong in pets like cats and humans may stem partly from good diet and supplementation with key plant based nutrients and fiber. Without this – susceptibility increases to infection and disease. Particularly key is plant fiber, which provides both pre and probiotic food to the natural gut flora and helps to build and maintain a healthy gut ecosystem. Hemp oil is rich in plant fiber and can assist in this capacity.

What side effects are possible for cats

As we’ve recommended – when starting out you will want to start with low dosage of CBD oil and increase over time providing your cat shows no adverse reactions. It is possible for cats to become lethargic or irritated from hemp products and each cat is different.  We’ve already covered some of the recent health studies on CBD oil which highlight its safety, non toxicity and low potential for addiction and abuse. Side effects may present themselves however as a more lethargic cat, irritability or mood changes. Always be aware of your cat’s energy level and behaviors when dosing and keep them under your eye. Any greater side effects like vomiting or large shifts in appetite and mood should be met with complete stoppage of CBD oil use and potentially veterinary assistance if needed. If you observe changes in behavior such as excessive meowing, gnawing or biting objects or clawing out of character this may also indicate potentially negative side effects which need to be monitored.

One thing to note regarding hemp and its uses is it actually often soothes the inflammation response or irritation in pets and their skin. That’s why it has been used in recent times within pet litter. Many synthetic types of litter can impact negatively as far as the environment is concerned as well as irritate pet skin. They can’t be great for the lungs of the cat or those who scoop their litter. Another concern is that some cats have sensitive skin which can quickly be affected when exposed to synthetic irritants. As a result, pet owners may resort to unscented litter that leaves the surrounding area smelling rather unpleasant. Hemp infused litter may be a solution to this issue. Hemp litter for cats is made of a composition of all-natural cat litter that is made with hemp stalks. Even better, this product is 100% compostable, thus you can use it to help fertilize the soil for the garden.

Choosing a CBD oil

Ensure you always vet your supplier and the product you’re purchasing to ensure it won’t be contaminated with nasties or adulterants (common due to solvents used in alcohol based extraction). Always seek organic, quality assured products and ensure your product does not contain THC which is toxic to dogs and cats. Look for full or broad spectrum CBD oil when purchasing to ensure you’re giving your cat a product that contains the full array of nutrients hemp can offer including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats like omega 3.

Generally the three forms of CBD oil for cats you’ll come across are:

  1. Isolate CBD oil: during the refining process, all plant matter and nutrients are stripped out of the final hemp oil leaving only cannabidiol in high concentrations.
  2. Full spectrum CBD oil: contains plant matter, chlorophyll, can flavins and other phytonutrients plus minor cannabinoids like CBN, CBG and CBDA in addition to cannabidiol.
  3. Broad spectrum CBD oil: contains certain cannabinoids and more limited plant compounds – often specializing in a particular one such as CBD or CBN plus CBD.

It’s also prudent to seek out an organic product that is GMO free and pesticide free – avoid the nasties and toxins that can cause health problems for your cat. Many hemp plants in Australia are treated with carcinogenic herbicides or pesticides which you can avoid through seeking a reputable and high quality CBD oil product. 

Which CBD oil for my cat? 

Full spectrum CBD oil contains all the helpful compounds of hemp like CBDA,CBN, CBG and CBD that your cat needs without compromising its health with THC. Broad-spectrum CBD oil for cats is another perfect way to introduce CBD products to your cat while providing it with added nutritional quality. It can be administered through droppers, vials, added directly onto food and more. What’s great about giving your cat broad-spectrum CBD oil is that more of the hemp plant’s beneficial compounds are included, meaning the effects may be even better than just CBD alone. Terpenes in full and broad spectrum CBD oil help to enhance and strengthen the effects of CBD. This is known as the entourage effect – occurring when these natural plant pheromones aid in improving uptake of CBD in the cannabinoid receptors. 

Today, you can even find pet treats in the market that are infused with CBD. These have a crunchy and tasty flavour that cats would enjoy. Many cats don’t like the flavour of drops or capsules meaning this could be a method you use to help them in digestion. These treats are the perfect option for those with picky cats. It’s important to always avoid products containing THC in them which can be toxic to your cat. CBD products won’t have any psychotropic or psychoactive effects in pets, being safe for use with minimal side effects and no addictive properties. 

Final Thoughts

To wrap up – we’ve run through a comprehensive guide on what CBD oil for cats is, its key benefits for our feline friends, some important risks to be mindful of and the key methods of using CBD oil for your cat. With regards to product types, administration and dosage – always start with low dosages to start and opt for full spectrum products. We personally love using this great health supplement with our cat – both for improved longevity, wellness and helping them age while avoiding the complications of stiff and painful joints or inflammatory issues. Always assess your cat’s reaction ongoingly prior to upping any kind of dosages with your furry friend. Avoid using products from non organic suppliers in Australia and ensure your oil is GMO and pesticide free to prevent any toxicity.