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CBD for Cats: Benefits, Risks, Side Effects 

Experts have found that the US pet owners spent $75.38 billion on their pets in 2019. Out of that number, over $34.12 went to vet care, over-the-counter medication and supplies. It can come as a shock to non-pet-owners. Yet this kind of spending has become the norm for many of the 85 million US families who share their homes with their pets. 


There is no wonder that ‘fur parents’ get into a tizzy when their pets are sick. It is also no surprise that they are eager to try everything that could help their pets have a healthy life. That being said, the cannabidiol CBD is one of the most popular and effective ways to potentially improve your pet’s life.  


The question that arises here is that ‘what kind of benefits are we talking about?’ and ‘is there research supporting these claims?’ We will separate anecdotes from facts in this ultimate guide to CBD for cats, so keep reading!  


About CBD  

To better understand the potential benefits of CBD oil for cats, let’s first talk about what CBD is


What is CBD? 

CBD is one of the 113 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are substances that interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) of mammals. Mammals, like humans and felines, develop endocannabinoids through the endocannabinoid system. Whereas phytocannabinoids are produced by plants, especially by cannabis plants. 


Cannabinoids and ECS  

The ECS is one of the central signaling hubs of the mammalian body. It serves as a “regulatory board” for signaling biological and physiological processes. These indicators impact sleep, immune function, appetite, and pain, to name a few. 


Cannabinoid receptors (CBs) are present within the ECS, and there are two main ones that are currently known: CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoids, like CBD, interact with these receptors, causing an ECS response. This response depends on what cannabinoid binds to the cannabinoid receptor. 


CBD blocks or activates certain compounds present in the ECS. For example, the nerve corridors that pain signals use to get to the brain seem to be interrupted. It is an effective way that the CBD may relieve pain.  


Where CBD Comes from Matters  

Two primary CBD plant sources include hemp and marijuana. Hemp comes from Cannabis sativa plants only; marijuana can be either Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica

Marijuana-derived CBD products, as helpful as they may be to humans, can still contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is the compound that gives marijuana users the well-known “good” rating. 


THC can have beneficial effects on humans, but it is harmful to cats even in the smallest quantities. Whereas pure CBD does not cause toxicity at small doses. Nonetheless, it can result in some mild side effects and can interfere with other medications. 


Notice that the legal THC level in CBD products is less than 0.3% for human use. Any more than that and your CBD oil consumption becomes illegal and will make you feel high. This low THC content can already cause signs of poisoning in animals. 


What Science Says about CBD for Cats  

What do scientific and clinical trials have to say about CBD oil for cats? 

Let’s just take a peek at some of them. 



Arthritis is also widespread in animals, with around one in three cats suffering from it. And, as in humans, it is also unpleasant for canines and felines. They have got it worse, though, because many of them end up crying in silence. 


Many of the CBD arthritis trials included rat models. Some of these studies have shown that the CBD may decrease inflammation and arthritis pain. After all, the CBD has potent anti-inflammatory effects. 


As a result, many fur parents turned to pet CBD oil for their arthritic cats. So far, there is only one recent CBD report in cats and dogs with osteoarthritis. It was found that CBD “can help increase comfort and operation” in osteoarthritis cats. According to the researchers, the effective dose is 2 mg of CBD per kilogram (dog weight) given twice daily. 


Epileptic and Seizures  

Idiopathic epilepsy is the leading cause of cats’ seizures, but its origin is still a mystery. What is more, up to 5.7% of cats and dogs around the world are suffering from it. It is more common in cats. 


For humans, CBD has demonstrated effectiveness in the treatment of epileptic seizures. It tends to be achieved by reducing the effects of seizures on the endocannabinoid system. One research showed that CBD decreased seizure frequency in 89% of patients with epilepsy. 


Keep in Mind  

If your cat is already under some kind of medication, do not feed them with CBD. Instead, ring up your vet first to inquire about any potential drug reactions. Past work has shown that CBD has a significant preventing influence on CYP450 enzymes. In humans, this means that taking CBD while taking another drug can impede the action of these enzymes. As a result, more of the drugs will get in and remain in a person’s system.  


In fact, if your cat is not taking any traditional medicine, it is still a good idea to reach out to your vet. These animal experts can give you more advice specific to your pet’s health. 


CBD Dosing Reminders  

When you want to give your pet CBD oil, start with a small dose of 2 mg first. It is best to first be on the side of caution and check for any possible reactions. 


Once no adverse effect is noticed, you can increase the dosage to 2 mg per kilogram a day. It was the CBD dose for cats used in the analysis described above. 


Potential Side Effects to Look For 

Lack of knowledge on the side effects of CBD on cats is also due to a lack of research. Though, this does not necessarily mean that CBD does not have side effects for pets. This can cause reactions such as the side effects that humans’ experience. 


One of these is dry mouth, as CBD can limit the production of saliva. This may tend to be more thirsty than usual in cats. One possible side effect is mild fatigue in your animals. It may be due to the relaxing effects of CBD. 


That said, be extra careful when you give CBD to your pets. Make sure that your cat or dog has enough water. 


What to Look for in CBD Oil for Cats 

The first thing you need to look for when purchasing CBD oil for your cat is the plant source. It is safer to go for the hemp-sourced CBD since this decreases the risk of a THC-containing drug. 

Below are some other attributes that you can pay attention to when shopping for CBD products.


NASC Seal or GMP Label  

Select a CBD drug that explicitly notes that it meets “Best Manufacturing Practices.” Reputable pet CBD brands also have the stamp of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). 

These acronyms say that the product contains healthy ingredients. They also say that CBD oil came from a safe, sanitary manufacturing facility. 


Independent Lab Test Results 

Make sure that the CBD items you are purchasing have undergone independent research. The results of the laboratory tests will tell you how much CBD and THC the product contains. It will also indicate what the other ingredients of the CBD oil are. 



Like chocolate, grapeseed oil can also be harmful to animals and not to humans. Nonetheless, CBD products for humans can contain this form of oil. 


Xylitol, a sugar substitute, can also be used in CBD products manufactured for humans. However, this alternative sugar can cause low blood sugar and seizures in animals. It can also lead to liver failure and, if not treated, death in animals, especially cats. 

That being said, make sure that all the mentioned ingredients are natural and safe for cats.