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.
Hilderbrand, R L. Hemp & Cannabidiol: What is a Medicine?. Missouri Medicine vol. 115,4 (2018): 306-309
Deabold, Kelly A. et al. Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics And Preliminary Safety Assessment With Use Of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical In Healthy Dogs And Cats. Animals, vol 9, no. 10, 2019, p. 832. MDPI AG, doi:10.3390/ani9100832
FDA Warns Companies Illegally Selling CBD Products. American Veterinary Medical Association, 2020