All About CBD Oil (AKA Cannabis Oil) For Cats: Plus Best Oils on the Market

What is CBD Oil?

Cannabis is a complex plant containing over 400 chemical entities, including more than 60 cannabinoid compounds. The best-known and best-understood cannabinoids in cannabis are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, which has psychoactive properties, and cannabidiol or CBD, which doesn’t have any psychoactive effect.

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Different cannabis strains come with their own cannabinoid makeup, ranging from low-resin industrial hemp, which contains little or no THC and around 3.5% CBD to medicinal strains with 23% CBD to psychoactive drug strains containing upwards of 25% THC.

When discussing cannabis for cats, we’re primarily concerned with the non-psychoactive strains and the medicinal benefits of the cannabinoid CBD.

CBD interacts with your cat’s endocannabinoid system—a network of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids found in the brain, nervous system, and peripheral organs. The endocannabinoid system is always at work in your cat’s body, helping to modulate appetite, sleep, mood, memory, motivation, and pain.

This system is in part fueled by the body’s natural cannabinoids or endocannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids from plants) supplement these naturally-present cannabinoids, promoting overall endocannabinoid system function.

Because it helps the endocannabinoid system modulate processes central to overall wellbeing, you can think of CBD as an agent of homeostasis.

Is CBD oil safe for cats?

Based on anecdotal evidence and clinical studies, CBD is safe for cats and other vertebrate animals. With no known toxicity threshold, it’s apparently impossible for cats to overdose on CBD.

Potential Hazards and Side Effects When Using CBD Oil on Your Cat

Side effects are rare, but some cats seem sleepy after taking CBD. GI upset is not unheard of. Some humans say that taking CBD gives them headaches or makes them feel paranoid.

Mark Lopez, CEO of a cannabis consulting company called Crecer Green Labs, says most problems occur when people give their pets low-quality cannabis-based products from a dispensary. Some cannabis-based extracts, wax, shatter, and other types of CBD products go through an extraction process that may contaminate the end product with butane and other potentially unsafe residuals.

Low-quality products may contain artificial colors, chemical preservatives, or sweeteners.

Always choose products with miniscule or nonexistent quantities of THC. Accidentally or intentionally giving your cat a psychoactive strain of cannabis could result in disorientation, confusion, sedation, and a scary experience for both you and your cat.

What are the benefits of CBD for cats?

Again, CBD can help to relieve pain, helping cats to feel better when suffering from almost any physical or psychological stress.

The World Health Organization has concluded that CBD may have a therapeutic effect in the treatment of:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Nausea
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Arthritis

Because cats share the same endocannabinoid system found in all vertebrate animals, they appear to receive all the same benefits experienced by other CBD users.

CBD Oil for Cats with Anxiety

Perhaps the most well-documented and widely understood of CBD’s benefits is for cats with anxiety management. The endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in regulating the anxiety response. CBD helps to modulate the stress response, helping your cat to deal with novel situations like car rides, travel, moving, and more.

CBD Oil for Cats with Cancer

There’s some evidence that CBD and THC may be able to reduce or stop the growth of some types of cancer cells. While this evidence is inconclusive, there’s no doubt that CBD can make cats with cancer feel better. As an anti-inflammatory and appetite stimulant, CBD can soothe nausea, inappetence, and other problems faced by cats suffering from cancer or dealing with the effects of cancer treatment.

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CBD Oil for Cats with Arthritis

Remember that arthritis occurs when the cartilage wears down and no longer protects and cushions your cat’s joints. This friction equates to inflammation and chronic pain, both issues that CBD is well suited to help. In addition to making your cat feel better, CBD may be able to stop the progression of arthritis.

CBD Oil for Cats with Seizures/Epilepsy

CBD has well-documented anticonvulsant properties in humans and other animals. As usual, cat-specific information is limited.

Some recent studies suggest that CBD can be more effective than traditional pharmaceutical drugs. A study conducted by the American Epilepsy Society found that CBD therapy reduced seizures in 45.1% of 261 patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy. This isn’t the only evidence that CBD can help to stop seizures.

Here’s a directory of clinical studies on the effects of CBD on seizures.

What Is a Safe Dosage?

The appropriate dosage will vary based on your desired effect. If you’re giving it for therapeutic or medicinal purposes, you’ll need to give more than if using it as a gentle preventative or maintenance treatment.

Royal Queen Seeds, a European cannabis seed company, recommends the following dosages for various feline health conditions.

These measurements should be considered rough guidelines.

  • Arthritis: .25 mg/lb twice daily
  • Asthma: .25 mg/lb twice daily
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: 0.1 mg/lb twice daily
  • Pancreatitis: 0.05 mg/lb twice daily, gradually increasing to .25 mg/lb twice daily
  • Chronic upper respiratory tract infections: .25 mg/lb twice daily
  • Seizures: .25mg/lb twice daily up to 1.5mg of CBD per lb of bodyweight

If your cat weighs 10 lbs, these guidelines suggest that an average dose would be about 2.5 mg per dose with two doses per day, giving your cat a total of 5 mg daily.

Read the label to determine the appropriate dosage for the product you’ve chosen. Every product will have a slightly different potency.

What’s the Best Type of CBD Oil or Medication?

CBD oil is extracted from the flowers, leaves, and resin of the cannabis plant. After extraction, this concentrated form of CBD is usually mixed with palatable oils like olive, coconut, salmon, or sunflower oil. It might also be processed into pills, treats, or other medicinal products.

CBD Oil for Cats

The fastest and most efficient way to give your cat CBD oil is by applying it to the gums or under the tongue. This can be difficult if your cat is squirmy, but is ideal for cats who need immediate relief. This kind of spot-on treatment allows the CBD to soak directly through the oral mucosa.

If your cat isn’t calm enough to accept this type of application, you might consider adding the CBD oil to your cat’s food instead. This is usually an easier route, but the results are slow. The oil will have to pass through the digestive tract, taking up to 45 minutes to reach the endocannabinoid receptors.

CBD Pills for Cats

The oral ingestion route isn’t the most efficient or fast-acting, but it can make your job easier. To encourage your cat to take the CBD pills, you can hide them in pill pockets, chunks of meat, or pieces of cheese. Because the pill doesn’t have a straight shot through your cat’s mucous membranes, it will take a while for the CBD to reach the endocannabinoid receptors in your cat’s body.

If you’re confident giving your cat pills, you can take the traditional route by placing the capsule on your cat’s tongue, gently holding their mouth closed, and stroking their throat.

If your cat needs a little more coaxing, you can embed the capsule in a pill pocket, piece of cheese, or a soft treat. You can also open the capsule and sprinkle the contents into your cat’s food, though some cats won’t like the taste.

If you prefer to use a needle-free syringe, you can open the capsule, sprinkle the contents into water, and put the CBD liquid into a syringe to squirt into your cat’s mouth.

CBD Treats for Cats

While there are a few CBD treats for dogs, it’s more difficult to find CBD treats made for cats. The rare CBD treat is a good choice for impatient, sensitive cats who are unwilling to take pills or ingest CBD oils.

That said, they have to pass through the digestive tract and therefore aren’t a fast-acting treatment for acute discomfort.

What to Expect After Giving My Cat CBD Oil

If your cat is suffering from acute pain or anxiety, the starting dose may start to make an obvious impact after 10-30 minutes. You might notice that your cat is calmer or acting more like “their old self”—successful users usually describe an overall sense of ease.

If you don’t see a difference in an hour, you might add another half dose before waiting another hour to evaluate their response.

While many people experience rapid results, others say that they didn’t notice changes until after several doses.

Successes and Failures: Real Life Stories of Cat Owners Who’ve Tried Hemp Oil

Skin Cancer

Tara Eisenhard used CBD oil to manage skin cancer on 18-year-old Mr. Maggie’s eyelid.

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“…In January of this year, his eyelid began bleeding when he cleaned it. I began giving him CBD oil in his food and the condition improved to the point where it was no longer bleeding. He held steady for several months until the end of the summer when he began nearing the end- at which point he stopped eating regularly and his eye got very bad. We had to say good-bye to him last month, but I’m certain the CBD oil helped him and gave us a few extra months.”

– Tara Eisenhard

Acute Kidney Failure

When acute kidney failure left his cat feeling sickly, Leland Radovanovic used CBD oil to improve Don Juan’s appetite, mood, and energy levels.

“…Towards the end of Don Juan’s life, he was lethargic, mostly slept and didn’t eat. I started giving him CBD in the form of an oil tincture, and while it didn’t treat the kidney failure he did had more energy, was eating, and returned to the loving energetic cat that he was. He passed away ultimately, but the CBD gave him a better end of life. That’s all I could ask for.”

Leland Radovanovic, cannabis communications professional

Bone Healing

Our next CBD patient is a little different from the others here—6-month-old Taj is a clouded leopard living at the Panther Ridge Conservation Center in Southern Florida. Mark Lopez, the CEO of Crecer Green Labs, says that intense CBD therapy helped to heal this big kitten’s severe hip and femur fractures.

These results may sound extraordinary, but they aren’t unprecedented—studies have shown that CBD can help to improve bone fracture healing.

After looking at Taj’s broken bones, doctors said that he’d probably need a hip replacement and would have lifelong problems. Taj started a heavy cannabis oil regimen in excess of 400mg of CBD each day. After 3 days, he was off of opiod pain meds. Within 7-10 days, he was almost fully weight bearing on the leg that was broken, showing almost no signs of pain or discomfort.

It’s been around two months since Taj’s bones broke, and the vet is amazed by the amount of healing that’s already taken place.

Feline Hyperesthesia – A Mixed Experience

While I wasn’t able to find any true CBD failures, here’s an example of a less-than-perfect CBD treatment experience.

While he hoped that the CBD would ease her anxiety and hyperesthesia symptoms, Chica’s guardian has concluded that CBD is not for every cat. He says that, after a month of both oral and topical application of a CBD treatment, the 8-year-old kitty “no longer tolerates the CBD oil. She refuses any food with just a drop and acts like I’m torturing her when I put it on her wounds.”

Nevertheless, Chica’s hyperesthesia symptoms have improved after a month of twice-daily doses.

Her guardian explains that “…she used to have seizures wherein she would lose control of her bodily functions for a moment, but those have stopped. She bites herself a lot less, but I notice that she will suddenly feel something at the base of her tail in the mornings which gives her the urge to bite…She is still very easily frightened.”

Choosing the Best CBD Oil for Your Cat

Look for full-spectrum CBD oils.

Natural hemp contains more than just CBD—it’s a complex plant containing terpenes, flavonoids, vitamins, and cannabinoids. Some manufacturers choose to isolate the active compounds in their products, and these products are appropriately called isolates.

While these isolates are beneficial as a concentrated source of CBD, it might be better to look for full-spectrum products containing CBD alongside the other components of the hemp or cannabis.

It’s worth noting that full-spectrum CBD products will contain some amount of a terpene called myrcene, which can have a sedative effect.

Make sure you’re actually getting CBD!

Remember that while CBD oil is made from hemp, the medicinal value is derived from the hemp flowers, leaves, and resin, not from hemp seeds. Avoid hemp seed oil or hemp oil with little-to-no CBD content. It’s usually an easy mistake to avoid, but some sellers are trickier than others.

This problem is particularly apparent when you try to purchase CBD oil on Amazon.

Because Amazon doesn’t allow sales of CBD products, anything on Amazon is either a non-CBD hemp seed oil pretending to contain CBD or a CBD-rich product pretending to be hempseed oil.

So while it is possible to find CBD products slipping under the Amazon regulatory radar, the potential for deception is uncomfortably high. The best place to buy real, CBD-rich cannabis oil is directly through the company’s website or a pet specialty store.

Seek out companies with a great reputation.

Many of the most reputable manufacturers release certificates of analysis, which are detailed reports that document the product’s formulation and cannabinoid profile, along with results from microbiological, pesticide, and heavy metal testing.

4 Best CBD Oils for Cats

Canna-Pet

Canna-Pet offers a line of full-spectrum hemp capsules for cats. While the company doesn’t disclose CBD content, they emphasize the benefits of the whole hemp plant. As full-spectrum products, Canna-Pet cannabis capsules contain cannabinoids along with a “unique abundance and variety of phytochemicals”.

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All of their products are made from USA-grown organic hemp and are completely non-GMO, vegan, and free from preservatives, wheat, sugar, and dairy ingredients.

Unlike other companies who slap their label on generic products, Canna-Pet products are developed and manufactured exclusively for Canna-Pet in USA facilities. Their phytochemical laboratory was configured to develop and produce hemp compound and terpene products for animals.

Unlike some other cannabis for cats, Canna-Pet products are covered as herbal remedies by Trupanion and Petplan, two major pet insurance companies.

Canna-Pet CBD for Cats Products

While Canna-Pet does sell a CBD liquid oil, they say that cats don’t like the flavor and should take their CBD capsules instead. Note that the capsules are designed to dissolve in the mouth, allowing them to deliver rapid results.

  • Advanced Small Capsules – Available in 60 or 30 capsule bottles. Every capsule contains 170mg of powdered hemp, which is rich in cannabinoids, terpenes, and other active hemp components.
  • Maxhemp/AdvancedMax Small Capsules – Available in 60 or 30-capsule bottles. Every capsule contains 510mg of hemp. In addition to much higher CBD levels, the Maxhemp formula has much higher levels of two dozen terpenes and improved absorption and bioavailability.

Austin and Kat

This Seattle-based company makes CBD oil and dog treats from organic hemp.

Austin and Kat products take advantage of what they call the “whole plant effect”, harnessing the power of all the compounds naturally found in hemp plants. The CBD is always decarboxylated, a process that converts inactive ingredients into active components, increasing the effectiveness of the end product.

Because the CBD is blended with salmon oil, Austin and Kat is a particularly good choice for cats, who can only utilize omega-3 fatty acids from animal sources.

All of their products are tested by independent labs for cannabinoid content. Though the test results aren’t always published for the public, you can request to see them and the company will be happy to share.

Austin and Kat CBD for Cats Products

  • 100mg CBD Hemp Oil for Cats & Dogs – Available in a 1oz bottle. The CBD is infused with a combination of hemp seed oil and wild Alaskan salmon oil. Each 0.5ml serving offers your cat 1.5mg of CBD.

Holista Pet

Holista Pet CBD products are made from organic hemp grown in Colorado, USA. As full-spectrum products, they contain all the various terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids found in the whole cannabis plant.

All HolistaPet products are made from organic, non-GMO, non-dairy, and gluten-free ingredients.

Their products are made in small batches, each of which is tested and verified by a third party lab. HolistaPet invites customers to contact them to obtain the latest lab test results.

Holista Pet CBD for Cats Products

  • CBD Pet Tincture 150mg/300mg/600mg – Each drop of the oil tinctures contains, respectively, 0.5mg, 1mg, and 1mg CBD.
  • CBD Pet Capsules 150mg/300mg/600mg – These capsules are available in 30-capsule bottles. The 150mg size is appropriate for most cats, as each capsule amounts to 5mg CBD.
  • CBD Cat Treats 150mg – Holista Pet is one of very few companies that sell a CBD treat for cats. Each of these treats contains 2mg CBD. In addition to full spectrum hemp oil, the treats contain salmon, chicken, potato starch, peas, and other ingredients.

Pet Releaf

Pet Releaf oils are made from a specialized proprietary hemp strain called PR-33. This strain contains over 100 cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids for full-spectrum benefits.

Pet Releaf controls the entire manufacturing process “from seed to sale”. Their products are made from hemp grown at a joint-venture farm in eastern Colorado. The farm is the largest certified USDA organic hemp farm in the United States and Pet Releaf is the only pet company sourcing from this particular farm.

After extraction, each batch is tested by a third party lab. The company publishes these test results on their Product Testing page.

Pet Releaf CBD for Cats Products

  • Pet Releaf 330 Hemp Oil – Available in a 1oz bottle. A single dropper contains 3.3mg CBD in organic coconut oil. Each bottle contains a total of 330mg full spectrum cannabinoids. 100mg of these are CBD, while the other 230mg are other cannabinoids.
  • Edibites – Pet Releaf is currently working on a line of CBD treats for cats. We don’t have all the details yet, but we do know that the company plans to release the line soon.

Hemp oil and other CBD products seldom cure health problems, but it does appear that the hype about hemp exists for a reason.

If you have a cat suffering from health issues or mental stress, you’re probably acutely aware of the need for affordable, accessible, and effective treatments. As we learned from Chica’s story, CBD isn’t necessarily right for every cat, but for now, it appears to be one of the few popular herbal remedies that actually works.

Mallory Crusta

Mallory Crusta offers simple, honest knowledge about natural cat care and products that work so that you can spend less time researching natural cat care and more time having fun with your cat. She blogs about it at WildernessCat.com.

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