Full spectrum hemp oil isn’t new. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade you’ve likely heard of it. It contains a ‘full spectrum’ of beneficial plant compounds and phytocannabinoids. Many of these compounds in hemp oil are known for their ability to assist with issues like anxiety, inflammation, gut health and more. It was even found to have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties in a recent study from the University of Queensland. But not only is it effective and showing huge promise amongst human subjects, full spectrum hemp oil is showing promise in a broad range of areas including pet health for horses, dogs and our furry friends – cats.
In this review we’ll be looking comprehensively at the health effects of full spectrum hemp oil on cats, including its benefits, potential side effects to be aware of, when and how to use it. You’ve likely already heard of hemp oil’s anti-anxiolytic, pain mitigating and inflammatory reducing effects. As hemp oil spreads further in popularity in Australia and develops beyond the stigma of old surrounding cannabis, it’s accessibility and usage will further increase, both for humans and cats.
Our aim here is to help you get the best outcome for your cat – ensuring it is healthy, vital and is able to live well day to day. We’ll give you the step by step to ensure you know about dosage and all the other small considerations to know when using hemp oil – so let’s get started.
What exactly is Full Spectrum Hemp Oil for Cats?
Ok so we’ve briefly touched on and introduced the topic of full spectrum hemp oil for cats. But what is this ? Full spectrum hemp oil contains cannabinoids and phytocannabinoids – many of which are contained in the cannabis or hemp plant. Some include CBN, CBG and CBA. Each of these has differing physiological effects and benefits, but the most renowned and powerful in terms of its health effects for pets and humans is cannabidiol or CBD. It’s bioactive – meaning it can be metabolised and used by the body for both humans and pets. One of the other well known compounds is THC – which is what causes the euphoric ‘high’ and psychoactive effects of marijuana. Full spectrum hemp oil is completely different however, not causing a high and not being psychoactive – its effects lie in the therapeutic spectrum.
One of the key selling points and benefits of hemp oil is it’s natural and from plants – you don’t need to worry about preservatives and inorganic compounds that can have nasty side effects for the body and liver. You can also rest easy knowing it’s a supplement and plant food that’s been used since ancient times across many cultures – from the middle east to Central Asian tribes (it has been found with remains of the mongols) as well as through Greece and Europe in more recent times. The therapeutic and anti-inflammatory effects of full spectrum hemp oil were known by the ancients and widely used to assist with common health issues.
But how do these effects get metabolised and used by the body? The answer lies with a special system known as the endocannabinoid system, which is present in cats and humans (also known as the ECS). The ECS supports an array of bodily functions including memory, mood, immune system and more. It also connects to many organs in the body as well as muscles and joints through receptors known as the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are activated when cannabinoid compounds bind with them and release endogenous (produced by the body) compounds that stimulate the body’s anti inflammatory response.
Cat’s experience many of the same symptoms and diseases as humans – like anxiety, arthritis, psoriasis and more. Most of these issues relate to inflammation, which is what hemp oil is able to assist with and mitigate. A lot of cats particularly are jittery and prone to anxious disorders from loud sounds or the stresses of modern day living in cities – surrounded by large vehicles and machinery. Full spectrum hemp oil can help to calm and reduce their stress states and cortisol, to bring them back to a more manageable level. Cats also benefit from the unique blend of nutrients and phytocompounds that hemp oil can provide – including flavonoids, phytocannabinoids, terpenes and antioxidants.
Typically hemp oil is known by the term ‘tincture’ which just means the cannabis oil has been suspended or combined with an inert carrier oil like MCT, coconut oil or olive oil. The carrier oil helps the body (human or pet) absorb the compounds of hemp and allow the body to take in its beneficial effects better through healthy fats.
But how is hemp oil produced? It’s a multi-phase process that involves stripping the hemp plant of its valuable buds, flowers and leaves (called trimming), drying the plant matter out, before running solvent through the plant matter in order to extract its oils. Solventless processes are also used which use CO2 gas extraction to generate the final hemp oil product. With the final product being completely from plants (a plant oil), it’s entirely non-toxic, non addictive and healthy.
But are there risks to using full spectrum hemp oil with cats?
Much of the research on full spectrum hemp oil is in its early stages both for pets and humans. There have been a number of studies in the scientific community however that indicate it is safe, beneficial and useful for animals like dogs, cats and well as humans. Some of the key ones were a 2017 study from the World Health Organisation that cleared hemp oil as non addictive, non toxic and beneficial as well as a recent 2020 study by Queensland University that showed it had beneficial antibacterial effects that may have future therapeutic benefit.
When it comes to cats the research is sparse – most of the studies to date clinically have focused on humans or dogs (or rats). Overall the metabolic processes are similar. We don’t recommend using hemp oil to treat any illness – make sure you take your cat to the vet – but rather as a health supplement to assist with overall wellbeing. It’s important to take note that like humans, cats all react differently when it comes to full spectrum hemp oil (and all other chemical compounds). This is due to genetic and immune system variations between individuals, which is something to be careful of.
You can think of full spectrum hemp oil as a holistic and wellbeing enhancing product – it helps to bring overall calmness and improved nutritional health to your cat. Most cats don’t see any negative issues or side effects and vets will attest to that. There’s also a bounty of anecdotes from pet owners saying their cats have seen improvements from hemp oil without downsides but in starting out with the supplement, small dosages at a time should be used in order to test and assess whether the individual cat will have any reactions. Controlled and small dosages are key to ensuring cats don’t have negative side effects from the outset.
While full spectrum hemp oil is fairly safe and can be used with pets including horses, dogs and cats, THC is not – it’s toxic to most pets and can cause toxicity if ingested. Avoid using THC with pets or any kind of marijuana (as opposed to hemp) based products. Although side effect risk is minimal, the most commonly found side effect (rare still) is lethargy in the cat and lowered energy. This is particularly pronounced when cats are given high doses, which can lead to other side effects like anxiety, nausea and loss of appetite or stomach issues. We recommend against high dosages and always advocate for a ‘vet first’ approach when it comes to your pet’s health.
Always ensure your oil product is from hemp not marijuana to ensure it contains no THC which can harm your pet. Industrial hemp contains no THC and only certain cannabinoids (of varying quantities depending on the plant breed and quality), but be careful to clarify this and avoid any risk. We also prefer oils or tinctures as they can be administered precisely by the drop, which means dosage control to a very specific and restrained level. Oils are also great as they can be stealthily placed in cat foods and provided daily with minimal issue as the cat typically won’t even detect the scent or flavour which is great for picky cats.
How does the endocannabinoid system in cats help their health?
Receptors known as CB1 and CB2 present throughout cats are what deliver the beneficial therapeutic effects of hemp oil in felines. These receptors are triggered when cannabinoids like CBD bind with them, releasing a potent amount of anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiolytic chemicals that help to soothe the mind and body. Supporting this is the vitamins and minerals contained in hemp oil – including E, magnesium, zinc and manganese. The receptors are also located in the brain and brain stem which is how hemp oil is able to assist with areas like anxiety in cats.
The ECS is completely separate from metabolic functions which cause highs. Taking full spectrum hemp oil won’t result in your cat being inebriated or high (same as humans) as it doesn’t contain THC. THC is also illegal in many countries which hemp oil helps avoid. It’s from hemp which is a sub-crop of cannabis (like marijuana) that doesn’t have THC in it. Cannabis is typically used as an umbrella term for all the sub-crop or subspecies of the plant. Hemp is also used for a range of industrial purposes like producing bags, rope, clothes and even enriching and reinforcing concrete.
What are the effects and health benefits of full spectrum hemp oil for cats?
As we’ve described regarding the ECS – it is able to help improve your cat’s health from a range of dimensions, from mood, immune support, stress, anxiety and more. But what are the specific health benefits it can attest to?
- Inflammation reduction and arthritis
As we know cats love to jump, climb and run. This movement keeps them active and healthy. But with time they get old and weak, as a result, their movement reduces – this can happen naturally but also through arthritis. To maintain a good healthy life for your cat, the cat needs to stay mobile and active. Hemp oil cats provide their movement and may keep them fit physically.
It’s been shown time and time again that full spectrum hemp oil 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 full spectrum hemp oil 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 sublingual’s for full spectrum hemp oil that have been clinically produced to assist with those suffering from chronic pain problems. Antioxidants in hemp oil are also able to help in mitigating and reversing the damage of oxidative stress related inflammatory illnesses, caused by free radicals in smoke, pollution and sun.
- 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, lowered immune system and energy and other health issues. Anxiety is particularly problematic – this chronic mental condition is a disorder affecting many which leads to chronic stress and mental imbalance from overthinking and worry.
Triggering the ECS and its anti stress effects is key to how full spectrum hemp 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 hemp oil many cat owners have anecdotally noted they’ve seen a positive change in their cats behaviour reduction in scratching and chewing things and it is also useful in reducing stress and anxiety. This is also useful for puppies and kittens. It can be directly applied to their chest. You will see a change in their temperament.
One of the most promising and well researched areas of study with full spectrum hemp oil’s effects is its noted improvement in seizure strength and frequency for those individuals suffering from epilepsy. This has been shown in both 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 over-firing which means the body can become unresponsive and convulse. The effects of this are also seen in pets like cats and dogs. Full spectrum hemp 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 greatest effect of full spectrum hemp oil medically. It’s not yet known whether the same process applies for feline physiology but there is much promise and potential for the future.
- Moisturising skin and fur
Hemp Seed contains a number of healthy fats and omega 3 fatty acids. Similar to other seeds like flax, chia and healthy fatty plants like avocado and olive, it’s 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 epidermis 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 might also see some help from a moisture providing hemp oil product or topical cream. We like to use full spectrum hemp oil and jojoba daily for our skin health and richness.
- 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 full spectrum hemp oil had antibacterial and anti-microbial properties. We know it also 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 or leaky gut. Full spectrum hemp oil 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 animals and humans may stem partly from good diet and supplementation with key plant based nutrients and fibre. Without this susceptibility increases to infection and disease.
What side effects are possible for cats
As we’ve recommended – you want to start with low dosage of hemp oil and increase over time providing your cat shows no adverse reactions. It is possible for cats to become lethargic or irritated from hemp and each cat is different. We’ve already covered some of the recent health studies on full spectrum hemp oil which highlight its safety, non toxicity and low potential for addiction and abuse. Side effects may present themselves as a more lethargic cat, irritability or mood changes so be aware of your cat’s energy level and mental state on 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 hemp oil supplementation.
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 and they can affect quickly when exposed to an unsuitable environment. 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 product and supplier
Ensure you always vet (no pun intended) your supplier and product you’re purchasing to ensure it won’t be contaminated with nasties or adulterants (common due to solvents used in extraction) , as well as for quality and to ensure your product does not contain THC. Look for broad spectrum hemp 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. It’s also prudent to seek out a product that is GMO free and pesticide free – avoid the nasties and toxins that can poison your cat or reduce their health. Many hemp plants are treated with carcinogenic herbicides or pesticides which you can avoid through seeking a reputable and high quality hemp oil product.
Why do we choose full spectrum hemp oils over isolates?
It contains all the hemp and phytocannabinoid compounds that your cat needs without compromising its health with THC. Broad-spectrum hemp oil for cats is the perfect way to introduce full spectrum hemp oil products to your cat. It can be administered through droppers, vials, added directly onto food and more. What’s great about giving your cat broad-spectrum hemp oil is that more of the hemp plant’s beneficial compounds are included, meaning the effects may be even better than just full spectrum hemp oil alone. Terpenes in full spectrum hemp oil help to enhance and strengthen the effects of its composite cannabinoids, known as the entourage effect. There are some products that are pet treats infused with hemp oil – these have a crunchy and tasty flavour that cats would enjoy it to take. These treats are the perfect option if you’re interested in trying hemp extract supplements for your cat.
To wrap up – we’ve run through a comprehensive amount of detail on what full spectrum hemp oil for cats is, its key benefits for the feline physiology, some important risks and ‘watch outs’ to note, as well as giving you a run down on some of the key methods of using hemp oil with regards to product types, administration and dosage. We personally love using this great health supplement with our cat – both for improved longevity, wellness and helping them age gracefully and avoid the complications of stiff and painful joints or gut inflammation. It’s key to dose low initially and assess your cat’s reaction ongoingly prior to upping any kind of supplement dose with your furry friend. Always be careful and cautious. Avoid using products from non vetted suppliers and ensure your oil is GMO and pesticide free to prevent any toxicity. We at Bondi Hemp Oil wish you the best of luck in your journey with your cat.