CBD for Cat Aggression –
Can CBD Help With Aggression in Cats?
- Cats experiencing pain are aggressive toward other people or pets to avoid being touched, having to move or be moved, or doing activities that might intensify the pain
- In addition to severe painful conditions, cats with thyroid issues, orthopedic problems, adrenal dysfunction, and neurological disorders can show increased irritability and aggression Most of the symptoms of these diseases are associated with inflammation. Treating the inflammation may help reduce or prevent aggression in cats.
- Current preclinical studies conducted in animals demonstrate that CBD reduces pain and inflammation.
- CBD’s therapeutic uses as an anti-anxiety-like and antidepressant-like compound were also noted in a study in CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets
- The endocannabinoid system (ECS) works in similar ways among all mammals. Thus, CBD’s anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties may help improve a cat’s well-being and health conditions, preventing aggressive behavior.
Why Cat Owners Are Turning to CBD Oil for Cat Aggression
CBD’s therapeutic potential could be the reason that most veterinarians and pet owners are considering CBD for their feline friends.
They are interested to see whether the similar benefits of CBD oil might help improve their cat’s health and well-being.
Aggression, a common behavioral problem in cats, is a hostile or violent behavior exhibited to take control or intimidate a person, another cat, or other animals
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), in pet cats, aggressive behavior can vary.
The display of behavior can range from cats hissing and avoiding the target of their aggression to cats attacking the person or animal that triggered the behavior
The ASPCA believes that a medical diagnostic examination is necessary for all aggressive cats. Some cats behave aggressively due to an underlying medical condition or complication.
Certain medications can alter mood and affect a cat’s susceptibility to aggression. Even diet has been implicated as a potential contributing factor
Once a medical problem is diagnosed, it is crucial to work closely with a veterinarian to provide the cat with the best chance at improving its condition.
All mammals, including humans and animals, like dogs and cats, have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), which functions similarly
The ECS maintains homeostasis (balance) between a wide range of bodily functions, ensuring that all systems work accordingly.
With studies highlighting CBD’s many potential therapeutic benefits, the possibility that it would work in cats is worth exploring.
Treating any underlying health issues that could be causing the aggressive behavior can help improve a cat’s well-being and prevent aggression.
CBD may help with the following medical conditions or symptoms that have been found to cause aggressive behavior in cats.
CBD and Pain-Induced Aggression
Cats experiencing pain are aggressive toward other people or pets to avoid being touched, having to move or be moved, or doing activities that might intensify the pain
Painful conditions include feline dental disease, arthritis, and lower urinary tract disease
Cats with osteoarthritis, for example, would respond aggressively to having their joints handled. They may hiss, bite, or scratch to show their resentment to being touched.
In some cases, cats would continue to act aggressively even after the cause of the pain has healed
When touched on the once-painful body part, they would still respond with aggression, probably to avoid experiencing pain again.
Owners can help manage their feline friend’s pain-induced aggression by being careful in touching their pet, avoiding painful areas.
Another way to avoid this type of aggression is by working with a veterinarian to develop a therapy for pain control.
Medications may help ease the pain but only when used in combination with behavioral or environmental changes. However, most pharmaceuticals bring about adverse side effects in cats.
Meanwhile, ongoing preclinical studies in animals demonstrate that CBD helps reduce pain and inflammation, according to Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D.
Dr. Boehnke is a research investigator in the department of anesthesiology and the Michigan Medicine Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center.
A study in the European Journal of Pharmacology examined CBD’s therapeutic potential on neuropathic (nerve constriction) and inflammatory pain in rats
The results indicated a promising potential for the therapeutic use of CBD oil in chronic painful states.
Some patients actively promote herbal cannabis to treat any type of chronic pain, say researchers of a study in Cochrane Systematic Review.
According to the study, there are potential benefits of cannabis‐based medicine in chronic neuropathic pain.
Cannabis‐based medicines include cannabis (marijuana) from the cannabis plant, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or a combination of THC and CBD in a spray.
However, researchers are afraid the potential risks may outweigh the benefits given the very low-quality evidence and sample size.
The studies mentioned were not conducted on cats. However, the endocannabinoid system is present and similar in both cats and humans.
Thus, the benefits of CBD to a human’s well-being may be similar to the benefits that cats and other animals experience when using CBD oil.
Owners who would like to try CBD for their cat’s pain relief should first consult with a veterinarian.
CBD and Inflammation in Cats
Many feline diseases are caused by or linked to an inflammation of a specific organ or body part.
According to an article by Harvard Health, studies show that chronic inflammation, in general, may be the common cause of many diseases
It is not only acute painful conditions that can increase irritability and aggression in cats. Certain conditions in cats, such as orthopedic problems, thyroid issues, adrenal dysfunction, cognitive problems, neurological disorders, and sensory deficits, can also increase aggression
Most of the symptoms of these diseases are associated with inflammation. Treating the inflammation may help reduce or prevent aggression in cats.
Meanwhile, in several human and animal studies, CBD has been shown to help reduce inflammation.
One study in the European Journal of Neuroscience used mouse models to show that CBD might help minimize inflammation
There may be other causes for a disease. However, mounting evidence suggests a common underlying culprit in major degenerative diseases, like coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, may be inflammation(
To eliminate the possibility that an underlying health problem is causing a cat’s aggressive behavior, responsible cat owners bring their feline friend to a veterinarian for a diagnosis.
Meanwhile, CBD may help with inflammation. A 2017 study in Pain journal examined how CBD might help with inflammation in rat models of osteoarthritis. Results showed that CBD helped reduce joint inflammation and nerve damage.
In another study, conducted on rat models by the University of Kentucky, results showed CBD lessened inflammation and overall pain
CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties may also be beneficial to felines given how the ECS works in the same way among all mammals.
CBD for Stress and Anxiety
A review in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery says stress increases the risk of cats showing some forms of aggression, including redirected aggression.
Redirected aggression is a common type of aggression in cats. It happens when the cat attacks another person or object other than the one that caused the aggressive behavior.
Cats use redirected aggression as a coping mechanism when they are exposed to stressful events.
For example, the cat sees a stray cat in a neighbor’s backyard but cannot get to it. Failing to go on the offensive with the actual prey, the cat acts out with a family member or another animal that is within its reach.
In another research published in PLoS ONE, the authors sought to understand better the prevalence of separation-related problems in pet cats.
The most typical behavioral signs of separation-related problems in cats analyzed in the study were the following:
- urination at inappropriate locations
- defecation at inappropriate locations, like out of the litter box
- destructive behavior
- excessive or uncontrolled vocalization or meowing
The researchers also added three categories that relate to cats’ mental states when the animals are either alone or separated from their owners.
These categories are aggressiveness, depression, and agitation-anxiety.
A questionnaire was drawn based on scientific data on separation anxiety syndrome in dogs and cats. The answers were ‘yes’ (Y) or ‘no’ (N) for each of the behavioral signs used.
Among the cats sampled, about 13% met at least one of the behavioral criteria for separation-related problems.
The authors found that destructive behavior, at 66.67%, was the most frequently reported behavior.
In contrast, 16 out of 30 cats exhibited depression-apathy. Aggressiveness was reported at 36.67%, or 11 out of 30 cats.
Strategies to prevent or reduce stress and anxiety in cats include removing the stressors or things that cause them anxiety in their environment.
Meanwhile, CBD oil may help reduce stress and anxiety, as some studies show.
A 2018 study in Frontiers in Immunology showed CBD as a potential remedy to post-traumatic stress and depression.
In the study, the authors examined the clinical and experimental use of CBD. They noted that CBD possessed anti-anxiety, antipsychotic (calming), and neuroprotective (protects nerve cells) properties.
CBD’s therapeutic uses as an anti-anxiety-like and antidepressant-like compound were also noted in a study in CNS and Neurological Disorders – Drug Targets
Although the studies mentioned were conducted on rats and mice, the similar ways by which the ECS functions in all mammals may translate to comparable benefits for cats.
Owners looking to manage their cat’s aggression by reducing its anxiety and stress may want to consider CBD as a safe and non-toxic alternative to pharmaceuticals.
How CBD Works to Help With Aggression in Cats
CBD and other cannabinoids interrelate with the body’s ECS. These cannabinoids, acting as neurotransmitters, help carry messages between cells.
Two types of receptors are also present in the endocannabinoid system: the CB1 and CB2 receptors.
In cats, CB1 receptors are mostly found in the brain and nervous system. The CB2 receptors, meanwhile, are dominant in the immune cells and peripheral organs.
Many cannabinoids interact with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, meaning a single compound can provide several positive benefits.
CB1 receptors play a role in appetite, motor regulation, pain sensation, mood, memory processing, and sleep
Meanwhile, CB2 receptors, when activated, stimulate a response that combats inflammation, reducing pain and damage to tissues.
These pain regulation and anti-inflammatory responses may help improve a cat’s well-being and health conditions, which may prevent aggressive behavior.
The Pros and Cons of CBD for Cats
- The endocannabinoid system (ECS) and cannabinoid receptors present in all mammals function similarly. Thus, CBD’s potential benefits, as shown in human and animal studies, may also work in cats.
- CBD is not an addictive compound, making CBD oil safe for cats when administered in veterinarian-approved doses.
- Hemp-derived CBD cat products are readily available and accessible without a prescription in many countries.
- High-quality CBD oil for humans may be safe to give to cats. Still, many reputable CBD manufacturers include CBD cat products in their product line. CBD cat products may come in different forms, such as tinctures or drops, CBD cat treats (soft chews or bites), capsules, and salves.
- The United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has not received reports of adverse events associated with animals given cannabis products. The only reports received were of accidental ingestion of cannabis by pets.
- No extensive studies have been conducted on CBD for specific use in cat aggression. There are no reports of CBD’s long-term effects on cats.
- The FDA, to date, has not approved any cannabis products for use in animals. Before trying CBD for aggression in cats, the agency strongly recommends consulting a veterinarian to explore different treatment options.
- The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still lists CBD as a Schedule I controlled substance. Drugs or substances categorized as Schedule I have no currently accepted medicinal use but have a high potential for abuse
- Except in California, veterinarians are not legally authorized to discuss cannabis with their clients. Thus, vets fall behind in working with cannabis plants and exploring their use in pets.
- CBD may cause drug interactions with other prescription medications currently taken by the cat. The side effects of CBD include diarrhea, dry mouth, fatigue, and reduced appetite
How CBD Compares to Alternative Treatments for Cat Aggression
Among the general principles used to manage all types of feline aggression, early diagnosis and intervention are the most effective
The other alternative options for dealing with aggression involves the following:
- Avoiding situations that make a cat aggressive
- Separating cats that act aggressively toward each other and slowly reintroducing positive reinforcement
- Refraining from giving any form of physical punishment, which may only increase a cat’s fear or anxiety, making aggression worse
- Giving medications in combination with behavioral or environmental changes
- Giving food treats as positive enforcers of non-aggressive behavior
Consulting with a veterinary behaviorist is necessary if aggression still cannot be controlled using the techniques outlined above.
Note that certain medications can impact a cat’s mood and affect its susceptibility to aggression. Even diet has been implicated as a potential contributing factor.
In giving food treats to aggressive cats, CBD cat treats may be an excellent option.
With CBD’s therapeutic benefits, as shown in the studies mentioned previously, CBD cat treats may be useful as positive enforcers of a cat’s calm demeanor.
CBD is generally safe and non-addictive. CBD cat treats may be used regularly for chronically-aggressive and stressed cats or when needed.
Cat treats with full-spectrum CBD are most beneficial for aggression in cats. Full-spectrum CBD contains increased concentrations of fatty acids, like Omega-3 and Omega-6.
Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids can help alleviate stress making it potentially useful in keeping cats calm.
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil Products for Cats
CBD oil, a potent Cannabis Sativa extract, may be derived from either the hemp plant or marijuana plant (also called cannabis).
CBD extracts may come in the form of full-spectrum CBD. This type of CBD oil contains all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, essential vitamins, fatty acids (like omega-3 and omega-6), and other compounds naturally present in cannabis.
Terpenes are the compounds naturally present in cannabis that give the plant its unique aromas and flavors. Flavonoids give plants their vivid colors.
On the other hand, broad-spectrum CBD oils are much like full-spectrum oils but without the THC content.
At most, broad-spectrum oils contain only trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%), making them ideal for those who do not want THC’s psychoactive effects.
CBD isolates, meanwhile, contain only pure cannabidiol. This form allows the user to customize the amount of CBD oil added to their daily routine
Whatever type of oil cat owners choose, they should insist only on high-quality CBD oil for cats to ensure its potency and reliability.
The following tips are useful for cat owners looking to try CBD for their cat.
- Buy only hemp-derived CBD oil that is guaranteed organic and non-GMO. Reputable CBD brands grow their hemp from their farms, or they source their hemp only from licensed producers.
- Check state laws. While medical cannabis (medical marijuana) is legal in many states, it is still illegal at the federal level. Meanwhile, CBD is legally available in most states as long as it contains no more than 0.3% THC.
- Look for CBD cat products that used the CO2 extraction method. This technique uses pressurized carbon dioxide to produce hemp extracts that contain all the essential compounds from the hemp plant effectively and safely.
- Ensure that the cat CBD hemp oil brand uses only natural carrier oils. Examples of natural carrier oils are hemp seed oil, MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides from coconut oil), and extra-virgin olive oil.
- Ask for third-party lab results or the certificate of analysis (COA) of each product. The COA lists all the other active cannabinoids contained in a product and indicates whether or not it contains other additives, preservatives, or contaminants.
- Follow the manufacturer’s dosing instructions, as indicated on the product label. More importantly, before giving CBD to cats, seek the advice of a veterinarian.
CBD Dosage for Aggression in Cats
The most significant safety consideration when administering CBD oil to cats is dosage.
Knowing the right dosage for a cat’s specific condition, reading the information that comes with the product label, and consulting with a veterinarian ensure the safety of furry friends.
How much CBD oil to administer depends on the cat’s age, body weight, diet, and health condition.
Unfortunately, there has not been any standard recommended dose for any ailments or conditions, in both humans and animals.
Also, different brands of pet CBD oil for dogs and cats recommend different dosing guidelines. Most manufacturers give dose values in ranges.
Holistapet, for example, has its vet-approved CBD dosing guidelines for cats and dogs. The company recommends between 0.25 mg of CBD (considered a regular dose) to 0.5 mg of CBD (a strong dose) for every pound of pet body weight(43).
A regular dose is recommended for a cat’s daily health and wellness, minor aches and pains, minor skin conditions, and for boosting the immune system function.
This dose is also ideal for relieving cat allergies, stimulating appetite, and reducing inflammation.
A strong dose is recommended for a cat’s chronic pain, severe arthritis and joint inflammation, mobility issues, and epileptic seizures.
This dose is also appropriate when treating cancer-related symptoms, tumors, extreme nausea, vomiting, and severe anxiety in cats.
As for the dosing frequency, the guidelines indicate that for pain and inflammation, the suggested dose should be given every eight hours, or as needed.
It is recommended that CBD be given 30 minutes before a stressful event (like fireworks, long trips, going to a crowded and noisy place) to control anxiety.
For all other uses, the chart recommends administering CBD once to twice a day.
Meanwhile, the typical recommendation among different manufacturers is 1 to 5 mg of CBD for every 10 lbs of a cat’s body weight.
When starting to introduce CBD oils into a cat’s routine, start with a low dose, or even err on the side of underdosing.
From a low dose, gradually increase it until the desired effects are achieved. In the case of aggression in cats, increase the amount of CBD oil in slow increments until the cat shows a positive response and begins to calm down.
How CBD Oil Can Be Administered to Cats
CBD oil for cats often comes in a liquid or tincture form. Most tinctures are in a bottle with a dropper, allowing for accurate dosage and control.
Cat owners can slowly introduce CBD, drop by drop, into their cat’s diet, using tinctures.
Tinctures can also be administered sublingually by placing a few drops under the cat’s tongue.
CBD can also be absorbed through the cat’s gums. The oil can be administered by lifting the cat’s lip and applying it onto the gums with a fingertip.
If the cat is not calm enough for this type of administration, the owner can still give CBD orally by adding CBD tinctures or sprinkling the CBD capsules’ contents onto the cat’s food and drink.
Cat owners may also use CBD cat treats as enforcers of positive, non-aggressive behavior in cats.
For nursing a cat’s pain due to inflammation or other diseases, CBD topicals, like balms, salves, and tinctures may also help.
When the pet is in a calm state, massaging these products onto its body can add relaxation.
Massage can help free up stiff joints, soothe joint pains, and promote healing by encouraging circulation to affected areas.
More importantly, a cat owner’s massage therapy to its cat can also help strengthen the bond between them.
CBD topicals may be applied transdermally to the cat’s bare skin inside its ears, or on its paws to lick.
Topical CBD products are also excellent for managing a cat’s rashes, seasonal allergies, or muscle pains.
CBD topicals are a straightforward way of targeting a specific area of the body. Also, they are conveniently used whenever needed.
Keeping a journal of the cat’s CBD dosing, reactions, and behavior is an excellent way of recording essential health details.
Remember to share this information with the vet in charge of the cat’s therapy.
A Closer Look at Aggression in Cats
The first step in managing aggression in cats is making sure the cat does not have underlying health issues that may be causing aggressive behavior(
Diseases, like feline hyperthyroidism, central nervous system problems, osteoarthritis, and dental disease, may cause aggression.
Cat owners may sometimes try to manage their cat’s aggressive behavior through simple behavioral or environmental changes.
However, they should first take their pet to the vet for a complete diagnosis. Once the veterinarian has ruled out medical issues, identifying the type of aggression is the next step to understand its cause better and to develop a plan for intervention.
Other Types of Cat Aggression
Young cats and kittens that did not grow with littermates, or lacked the opportunities to play with other cats, most commonly show play aggression.
Cats that were raised alone may not have had the chance to learn that biting or scratching too hard is not right.
Preempt the aggression by distracting the cat with active play, or denying access to places that encourage the behavior.
A bell on its collar may help signal a cat’s whereabouts before and during a display of aggressive behavior.
Cats demonstrating fear aggression may flatten their ears against their heads, hiss and bare their teeth, and crouch low to the ground.
Their tail may be tucked under their body, and their fur may stand on end
Fear aggression occurs when a cat sees an unfamiliar stimulus or target, such as a human stranger in the house, an animal or pet, or when it suddenly hears a noise.
Cats also manifest aggression when exposed to experiences it associates with fearful or unpleasant events, such as a visit to the veterinarian, or being mishandled by someone.
Some cats may suddenly exhibit aggression when petted. The reason for this reaction remains mostly unclear.
However, possible explanations include overstimulation, which the cats may resent. Also, the cat may be trying to exercise control when it wants the petting to end.
Even routine activities, like grooming, bathing, and nail trimming, can also cause this type of aggressive behavior.
In many cases, the cat shows dilation of its pupils, tail lashing, and movement of its ears backward on the head before becoming aggressive.
Cats are known to establish and protect their territories. They may show aggressive behavior when encountering new cats, other animals, or people to make an impression and defend their domain.
This type of aggression usually takes the form of chasing, swatting, and attacking the person or animal perceived as a trespasser.
Cats that have recently given birth and are currently nursing kittens are more likely to exhibit maternal aggression to anyone who comes near them.
For these queens, owners should provide a safe, quiet, low-stress environment, far from visitors, especially strangers.
Maternal aggression usually subsides as the kittens get older and become more independent.