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.