Everyone is praising CBD oil for helping their pets with various health issues, but is CBD oil really worth the hype? Find out what a veterinarian thinks about CBD oil for cats and whether there is research to back up the claims. Our feline companions are pretty self-sufficient. In fact, sometimes our cats may even come across as moody, aloof, or skittish. It’s easy to stereotype cats into a group that has one particular type of personality. A particular orange-furred, cartoon cat that exhibits constant dominance over his owner and terror CBD oil is growing in use among cat owners, but there is confusion among similar products and whether or not it is safe to use in cats.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
CBD has taken the pet world by storm; however, scientific research on the impacts of CBD on dogs and cats is still in its infancy—especially for cats.
Let’s look at what cat parents should consider before giving their cats CBD oil or CBD cat treats.
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s the second most common active ingredient found in the cannabis plant.
While CBD is present in all cannabis plants, it’s primarily derived from the hemp plant—which a recent study defines as, “Cannabis sativa with a total THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) less than 0.3% dry weight in leaves and buds.”
It is also important to note, that legally, a hemp plant cannot contain more than 0.3% THC or else it is considered a Schedule I controlled substance (illegal narcotic).
Unlike hemp oil and hemp seed oil, CBD is extracted from the stalks, leaves and buds—not just one part of the plant.
Has Research Been Done on CBD for Cats?
As far as I’m aware, no scientific studies have been published regarding the use of CBD with cats.
So, as is often the case, we’re left to interpret research results in dogs, people and other animals combined with anecdotal evidence to try to determine if giving CBD to cats is a good idea.
Research on CBD Use in Dogs and People
Recent studies indicate that CBD can help relieve pain and promote activity in dogs with osteoarthritis and can reduce seizure frequency in cases of severe epilepsy.
The fact that CBD has been shown to help dogs with epilepsy correlates nicely with the 2018 US Food and Drug Administration approval of the human CBD medication Epidiolex for the treatment of certain types of childhood epilepsy.
Other common uses of CBD for which there is at least some supportive scientific evidence (in people or non-feline animal models) include inflammatory conditions—like inflammatory bowel disease—as well as asthma, anxiety, pain and nausea.
So, Is CBD Safe for Cats?
Based on reports from veterinarians and pet parents, CBD itself appears, on the surface, to be very safe for cats.
Some people report that their pets become sleepy or develop upset tummies, particularly when given very high doses, but these problems resolve when CBD is discontinued or the dose is lowered.
A Word of Warning About CBD for Cats
Although CBD gets good reviews from pet parents, there is one big problem with the use of CBD in cats: an almost complete lack of regulatory oversight.
This lack of oversight has resulted in a wide availability of low-quality CBD products.
One study tested CBD products and found that many have little—if any—CBD. Or they have more CBD than is reported on the label.
Studies have also found that some CBD products contain potentially harmful contaminants.
This is especially concerning for cats because of their increased sensitivity to medications and toxins.
How to Find Safe CBD for Cats
If you choose to try CBD for your cat, here are a few ways that you can protect your pets from poor-quality CBD:
Find products that carry the Certified Seal of the U.S. Hemp Authority ™ or the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC) Quality Seal, as these meet industry-imposed standards and have passed a third-party audit.
Use only products that are designed for cats or that contain just CBD oil—and maybe a benign carrier like hemp oil, coconut oil or MCT oil.
Talk to an experienced veterinarian. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association provides a “Find a Vet” tool on its website if your veterinarian is unable to help.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
Our feline companions are pretty self-sufficient. In fact, sometimes our cats may even come across as moody, aloof, or skittish. It’s easy to stereotype cats into a group that has one particular type of personality.
A particular orange-furred, cartoon cat that exhibits constant dominance over his owner and terrorizes his yellow dog “brother” comes to mind. However, cat personalities vary greatly. In fact, a study from 2017 assessed the personalities of over 2,000 cats and developed a categorical system for feline personalities now dubbed “the feline five.”
Feline personality types can sometimes make it difficult for their human owners to understand when they aren’t feeling well. Cats that are sick or experiencing discomfort may not appear to act much different than they normally do, depending on their personality.
For instance, it isn’t uncommon for cats who aren’t very social to hide or seek out a spot under a bed to sleep, this can be their normal behavior. However, it can also be a sign they are not feeling well or have been injured. If your cat normally sleeps under a bed or hides the majority of the day, you will have to look for other indications your cat is ill to determine if there is something wrong.
If your cat is not feeling well, has been injured, or is otherwise not herself, you can look for signs.
Here are some of the most common behaviors of cats who aren’t feeling well.
- Hiding . Again, this can be hard to spot if your cat typically hides the better part of the day. Look for cues that the hiding is lasting longer than normal. For instance, a cat that doesn’t remove herself from hiding when she hears food being poured into her dish may be in discomfort or not feeling well.
- Sitting very still and hunching. If your cat is consistently in a “crouched” or hunched position, with her legs tucked neatly under her body, it could be a symptom she is experiencing some type of discomfort.
- Grooming issues. Cats who are normally meticulous groomers may stop grooming if they are ill, or over-groom to the point of self-harm like gnawing off fur or creating open sores on their skin.
- Unusual or excessive meowing. Is your normally quiet kitty suddenly meowing non-stop? This could be an indication she is in discomfort.
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea. A tell-tale sign of gastric discomfort is vomiting and diarrhea. In either case, this requires an immediate visit to her veterinarian, as she can become dehydrated very quickly.
- Restlessness. When your cat can no longer catch a cat-nap, she may be experiencing environmental stress. Environmental stress can come from many factors, and it’s important to see her veterinarian to determine the root of the behavior.
- Refusal to use her litter box . It’s understandable this will make a cat owner upset, but it is not an indication that your cat is “naughty,” it’s likely an indication she isn’t well.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, you should make an appointment to see her veterinarian right away. Her vet can help determine what’s wrong and develop a treatment plan for her.
In addition to seeing her vet, you can also look for ways to help promote your cat’s overall health and wellness, and care for her body through the use of all-natural, plant-based supplements. One supplement that carries a vast array of benefits for felines is cannabidiol, or “CBD” oil.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is one of over one hundred chemical compounds found in the leaves, flowers, and stems of the cannabis-sativa plant. The cannabis-sativa plant has many varieties and cannabinoid profiles with varying degrees levels of each compound, however, the variety used predominantly for CBD-focused products is an industrial hemp plant containing mostly CBD and other cannabinoids and less than 0.03% of tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC,” which is the compound associated with producing intoxicating effects.
CBD oil can be extracted from the hemp plant in three different ways that are available for pets.
- Isolate. CBD isolate is CBD oil that contains only cannabidiol, or CBD. No other plant parts, i.e. phytonutrients, are included in this formula. CBD isolate is inexpensive to manufacture and mass-produce, though the quality of the CBD is very low and doesn’t offer as many health benefits.
- Full-spectrum. Full-spectrum refers to the cannabinoid extract from the hemp plant containing CBD along with all other usable phytonutrients, as well as a trace amount of THC (don’t worry, it’s always less than 0.03% and does not intoxicate your animal!). This blend includes flavonoids, terpenes, other cannabinoids, vitamins, minerals, and proteins, which are vital in allowing CBD to deliver maximum benefits to your cat when administered. This benefit is often referred to as the “entourage effect,” and it refers to all portions of the hemp plant working together synergistically to provide the highest benefit level available to your animal.
- Broad-spectrum. This refers to CBD oil that has been extracted with most phytonutrients, but not THC, which makes its ability to produce the entourage effect less impactful.
When looking for a CBD oil for your cat, always seek out a full-spectrum product, like our CBD oil tincture here at VETCBD . It’s also a great idea to find a CBD oil tincture that uses a healthy fat as the carrier oil, (the oil which CBD is dissolved into to create the tincture) like organic extra virgin olive oil. Research shows that the bioavailability of CBD is higher when taken along with a healthy fat, as it helps the CBD avoid first pass metabolization in the liver.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
Because CBD oil is relatively new for approved use even in humans, studies of its effects on cats are rapidly developing. CBD oil is generally well tolerated by cats, with very few incidents of negative side effects reported. Side effects of cats who have been improperly dosed (i.e. given too much CBD oil) may have side effects like gastrointestinal upset or tiredness.
Additionally, as we mentioned earlier, full-spectrum CBD oil contains less than .03% THC so there are no possible intoxicating effects to your cat.
It is essential, however, that your CBD oil contain this trace amount of THC, so that the oil can properly deliver the entourage effect in terms of CBD benefit. Remember, that without all the necessary parts of the plant, your CBD oil is not as effective.
What Can CBD Oil Help With?
- Support healthy bone and cartilage function. As our cats age, they experience a decline in cartilage between their joints just like humans do. This can create discomfort that can limit your cat’s mobility. CBD oil is packed with cannabinoids that work to lubricate and support your cat’s joints and cartilage, bringing her comfort and helping her maintain her mobility.
- Provide temporary soothing for occasional gastric distress. Cats who experience digestive issues can get temporary soothing from occasional gastric distress with CBD oil. CBD oil soothes your cat’s tummy and helps her feel better, faster.
- Support normal brain function . We all want our cats to live the longest, healthiest lives possible, and part of giving them the best care we can is helping ensure their brain function is supported in the best manner possible. Research shows that CBD helps support healthy brain function in all mammals, which means your cat can benefit from supplementation, too!
- Calms and relaxes. All pets deserve to relax every now and again, and CBD oil can promote relaxation and overall emotional balance in your furry companion.
CBD oil is a great supplement for cats, and can best be administered in the form of a CBD oil tincture. Many cats will take this administration of CBD oil directly from the tincture’s syringe.
Is CBD Oil Legal?
The commercial growth, manufacture, and distribution of CBD was federally legalized with the passing of The Farm Bill of 2018. It should be noted that commercially grown hemp plants and the resulting CBD oil products must contain less than .03% THC to be considered legal.
Additionally, each state has differing laws regarding the legality of CBD oil growth and distribution, so it is important to check your state’s laws to ensure you can legally use CBD oil as a supplement for your cat.
CBD oil has a collection of helpful benefits for your cat, and it can be safely administered to her through the use of a high-quality, full-spectrum CBD oil.
CBD oil can support joint mobility, support gastrointestinal health, promote emotional balance, and even aid healthy brain function.
CBD is a great choice to add to your cat’s current health and wellness stack, but if you ever have any questions about adding anything to your pet’s regular regimen, don’t be shy to reach out to your veterinarian!
Is CBD Oil Good for Cats?
Adrienne Kruzer is a veterinary technician with more than 15 years of experience providing healthcare to domestic and exotic animals. She is trained as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets.
Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, is an accomplished veterinarian and writer with more than 25 years of experience in veterinary medicine, animal welfare, and conservation. She participates in The Spruce Pets’ veterinary review board and is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
CBD has grown in popularity for use in humans, dogs, and even cats, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding its use. Pet owners need to know what it might be useful for, whether or not it is legal, and the difference between hemp, CBD, Cannabis, marijuana, and THC. Knowing whether or not a product is safe, effective, and legal for a pet cat to use is of utmost importance in order to avoid harming your pet or breaking the law.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
There is unfortunately little research that has been done on the effects of CBD in cats. Based on anecdotal reports and limited study, CBD does appear to be safe for cats, but its effectivenss for the treatment of any condition has not yet been proven. Until more research has been done showing that CBD is in fact safe and effective, it is only prudent to use it under veterinary supervision.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is actually an abbreviation for cannabidiol, and cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid, or specific type of molecule, that is made by and extracted from Cannabis plants. When extracted, CBD can be included in an oil that can be given orally to cats. It often contains coconut, hempseed, olive, avocado, or palm oil that acts as a carrier oil, similar to how many essential oils are made.
What Is the Difference Between CBD and Hemp Oil?
CBD and hemp oil are often confused with one another because both are sourced from Cannabis plants. Hemp oil may or may not contain significant amounts of CBD, but it is always extracted from a specific strain of Cannabis sativa called hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC, the phytocannabinoid that is responsible for the high of marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, can be extracted from either marijuana or hemp, although hemp-derived CBD is far more common.
Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
THC is the abbreviation for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Marijuana plants contain significant amounts of THC; hemp plants do not. Many people who want to use CBD oil specifically look for THC-free or low THC CBD oils, which is why they are usually purchasing hemp-derived CBD. Any product containing significant levels of THC (higher than 0.3%) should not be administered to cats and may pose safety concerns.
Is CBD Found in Marijuana?
CBD can be derived from marijuana plants, but most growers are more concerned about the THC content. Marijuana should never be administered to cats regardless of how much CBD is in it. Hemp-derived CBD is legal and safer for cats than marijuana-derived CBD.
Why Is CBD Oil Popular for Cats?
Cat owners want to give their pets safe and effective treatment options, and some medications may have negative side effects or not work well enough to help their cat’s specific issues. The anecdotal, media, and early scientific success of CBD oil in people and dogs has caused it to grow in popularity for use in cats, too. Some owners report major successes in treating a variety of ailments in their dogs that were taking CBD oil after being unable to achieve it using other products. However, it’s important to remember that cats and dogs process medications and supplements very differently, and the safety and effectiveness of CBD is still being researched in cats.
Risks and Concerns in Using CBD Oil in Cats
Since there really isn’t any research that has been done supporting the safe use of CBD in cats, there is a lot still unknown. Whether or not there are side effects, especially with long-term use, the efficacy for use in supporting a variety of bodily systems, contraindications with medications, and administration amounts for specific uses in cats still need to be studied.
In addition to the lack of research, another concern with CBD oil is finding a consistent and pure source. There is almost no regulation over the manufacture of CBD so widely-available products may contain little to no active ingredient and/or be contaminated with potentially harmful substances. Consumers should talk to their veterinarian and look for a company with strict quality control measure to ensure products meet label claims before giving CBD to their cats.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet’s health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Hilderbrand, R L. Hemp & Cannabidiol: What is a Medicine?. Missouri Medicine vol. 115,4 (2018): 306-309