The Definitive Guide to CBD for Cats

Cats are notorious for their spirited, volatile and sometimes apathetic temperament. Because it’s hard to distinguish their multiple personalities, you may not know when your cat is experiencing anxiety. Felines are also surprisingly pain tolerant. They may act a little different when they’re hurting, but they may not let on that they’re in distress.

Whether your kitty has been diagnosed with a specific ailment or just seems a little off, you might want to try offering it a quality CBD oil for pets. Like catnip, CBD is just another herbal medicine. It has many benefits for cats and is relatively safe.

The Difference Between THC and CBD for Cats

You may have heard that you’re not supposed to give marijuana to your cat. While you should probably avoid dosing your furry friend with the same plant that some people smoke, you can administer CBD without worrying that your cat will get high.

THC is the component of marijuana that has mind-altering qualities. It binds directly to certain receptors in your brain called the C1 receptors. When it does, it has psychoactive effects.

It can make your senses seem more sensitive. Colors may be brighter and sounds might be louder.

Some people become more relaxed when they use THC. Others become anxious or paranoid. CBD can enhance THC’s relaxing properties, counteract the anxiety-producing ones, and work to improve many aspects of physical and psychological health on its own.

CBD is extracted from cannabis. It can be isolated from marijuana or hemp. Either way, CBD oil doesn’t contain enough THC to produce intoxicating effects. In most cases, CBD oil contains no THC.

Some people are hesitant to offer it to their cats because they’re worried about its association with marijuana. CBD oil may contain trace amounts of THC, but it is legal in all of the U.S. states as long as it has less than 0.3 percent of the intoxicating compound.

Therefore, you don’t have to worry about marijuana intoxication in cats when you give CBD to your feline.

The Science Behind Giving CBD to Cats

CBD works on the endocannabinoid system. This system is present in all animals with backbones. It’s made up of receptors that are located throughout the central nervous system. Scientists believe that the endocannabinoid system plays a huge role in maintaining energy and hormone balance, enhancing immunity and keeping people and animals healthy.

Endogenous cannabinoids, chemicals in the body that interact with the endocannabinoid system, influence communication within the central nervous system. You can also produce changes in the endocannabinoid system by introducing exogenous cannabinoids. These include THC and CBD.

Although cats’ brains are similar in structure to human brains, a feline brain is much smaller. Cats have about twice as many neurons as dogs. Because CBD works on the chemicals that produce signals between these neurons and has been shown to produce beneficial health effects in dogs, it’s reasonably safe to say that it will also affect cats.

Still, humans have more cannabinoid receptors than cats do. This is due in part to the fact that humans are larger than cats. The human brain is also proportionally bigger than a cat’s brain compared to body size.

You don’t have to give your cat the same dosage that you use yourself. We discuss CBD dosage for cats in more detail later in this article.

What Kinds of Ailments Can CBD Treat in Cats?

Many of the health conditions that affect humans are also prevalent in cats. CBD can help with symptoms of some of the most common feline health problems, including:

• Cancer

• Diabetes

• Feline immunodeficiency virus

• Respiratory infections

• Digestive disorders

• Parasites

• Feline hyperesthesia syndrome

• Arthritis

CBD has not been researched for its ability to treat these medical conditions in cats. However, it has been studied for its ability to improve similar health issues in rodents and humans.


Cancer is not as prevalent in felines as in some other animals. But cancer in cats may be diagnosed much later than in other pets because cats don’t always let their owners know that they’re not feeling well. This can make treating feline cancer difficult.

Feline leukemia virus, or FeLV, and feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, may increase the risk of cancer in cats. FeLV can cause healthy cells to transform into abnormal cells. Both of these viruses suppress the immune system, which reduces the body’s ability to fight cancer.

Cats are susceptible to the following types of cancer:

• Skin cancer

• Mammary cancer

• Mast cell tumors

• Oral tumors

CBD has been studied for its ability to fight cancer. It inhibits the growth of new blood vessels, preventing cancer cells from getting the nutrients that they need to grow. It contributes to the death of malignant cells via several mechanisms.

The cannabinoid provokes programmed cell death in breast cancer tumors. CBD also increases levels of the neurotransmitter anandamide, which is implicated in the cytotoxicity of skin cancer cells.

Administering CBD regularly to your cat may reduce its likelihood of developing progressive cancer by attacking abnormal cells.

Digestive Distress

The endocannabinoid system controls nausea and vomiting in mammals. If your cat has cancer, CBD can reduce the nausea that’s caused by chemotherapy or other medications. CBD can also help if your kitty is nauseated or vomiting for other reasons.

Sometimes, vomiting is useful. It’s a way for cats to dredge up hairballs or get rid of excess food that didn’t sit well when they ate too fast.

Getting a veterinarian’s advice should be the first course of action if your feline is throwing up. CBD oil can be part of the treatment no matter what caused the vomiting.

Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, can lead to vomiting. It may also contribute to weight loss and diarrhea. Chronic inflammation can happen when immune cells attack the body’s healthy tissue. Researchers have demonstrated that CBD is a promising substance for treating inflammatory bowel disorders. It reduces inflammation by reducing the activity of certain immune reactions.

Many cats have digestive problems when they have parasites, such as tapeworm. Anthropologists have found that African tribe members who smoke cannabis have lower incidences of intestinal parasites than those who don’t use the herb. The effect may be linked to THCA, the precursor of THC, which is found in raw marijuana.

CBD blends that contain compounds from the whole plant may be useful in dealing with parasites. Even if they don’t contain THCA, they may relieve the stomach upset that can be caused by worms.


Do you have a fat cat? Although it may be adorable, it could have feline diabetes. This condition, which affects the body’s ability to properly respond to insulin, can increase blood glucose levels and lead to obesity, nerve damage or weight loss.

CBD can help in a few ways. Because cannabinoids influence metabolic processes, researchers have looked into the effects of cannabis on glucose and insulin. Marijuana use has been linked to lower fasting insulin levels and a smaller waist circumference in humans. This finding supports the use of full-spectrum CBD oil for cats.

One study showed that CBD oil reduces the incidence of diabetes in rodents. Giving your cat CBD oil may also improve symptoms that are associated with diabetic complications, such as nerve damage and tissue injury.


As we have already mentioned, cats don’t always let their owners know when they’re feeling pain. They’re likely to experience more physical discomfort as they get older.

Up to 90 percent of cats over 12 years of age may have osteoarthritis. Many kitties who suffer from pain aren’t treated. That may be due to the fact that cats are more likely to become less active instead of developing obvious lameness.

Medications that relieve pain, reduce inflammation and hinder the progression of the disease can help cats. However, most of these drugs cause negative side effects. CBD may be effective in addressing all of these arthritis symptoms without adverse reactions.

In rats with osteoarthritis, CBD has been found to prevent pain and nerve damage. It reduces inflammation, which may protect the joints from further damage in cats with arthritis. In another animal study, CBD blocked the progression of the disease. CBD may tackle multiple problems that are associated with arthritis and could enhance the effectiveness of or replace pharmaceutical medication.


It’s no secret that cats can be neurotic. Sometimes, cats act quirky because they’re anxious. Some signs of anxiety in cats include:

• Aggression

• Withdrawal

• Lethargy

• Vomiting

• Urinating or defecating outside of the litter box

• Compulsive or destructive behavior

Existing evidence supports the use of CBD for treating anxiety in humans. Moreover, it can reduce symptoms of a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

It is thought that CBD works on the serotonin receptors, which are present in cats’ brains as well as in humans’.

Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Some cats develop a rare disorder called feline hyperesthesia syndrome. This causes cats to act irrational. Their skin may twitch, they may pounce on the walls or they may display aggressive behavior.

Medical experts aren’t sure what causes this disorder. Some believe that it could be associated with trauma. Others think that it might be linked to epilepsy.

Because CBD oil has been studied for its ability to reduce seizure activity and improve symptoms of PTSD, it holds promise for treating feline hyperesthesia syndrome.

CBD oil has been involved in many animal and human preclinical studies of PTSD. A 2018 review compiled research that showed that consuming CBD oil may change the way that the brain stores and processes traumatic memories.

Many people are familiar with CBD’s use for treating seizures. It can significantly reduce the incidence of seizures in people with treatment-resistant epilepsy. If feline hyperesthesia syndrome is caused by seizures, CBD might be able to tone down the symptoms.

Is CBD Safe for Cats?

No studies have been done to verify the safety or efficacy of CBD oil for cats. However, Pet MD reports that holistic veterinarian Gary Richter promotes the safety of CBD oil for cats. Proper dosing is important to avoid adverse side effects, which are uncommon but may include gastrointestinal distress and sedation.

One problem with finding the appropriate dose is that veterinarians are legally prohibited from prescribing or recommending CBD oil for pets. They can discuss the oil’s use with pet owners, however. Therefore, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your veterinarian before using CBD oil for your cat.

Don’t be surprised if the doctor doesn’t have a specific answer for you, though. Although CBD oil is becoming a popular option for treating health conditions in pets and humans, many veterinarians don’t have experience with it.

If you buy CBD online, you might need to be more concerned with added ingredients than the CBD itself. Choosing products that publicize the results of lab testing can help you select oils that don’t include heavy metals or other contaminants. Doing your research will also help you find products that contain natural CBD instead of synthetic imitation.

How to Give CBD to Your Cat: Dosage and Administration

In humans, inhaling CBD is the fastest way to get it into the system. However, its effects don’t last as long when it is vaped or smoked. Sublingual administration also delivers effects fairly rapidly. Humans can easily drop CBD oil under their tongue, where the substance is absorbed.

Some cats are finicky about taking medicine. Therefore, dosing them with CBD can be tricky.

You can mix CBD oil with food. However, cats are somewhat picky about what they eat. You might need to blend the CBD oil with a special treat, such as canned tuna, to get your cat to eat it. If you combine CBD with food, it must make its way through the digestive tract before it’s absorbed.

This is a good way to administer CBD if you’re offering it to your cat regularly. It may not be ideal for managing acute ailments.

You can also try giving it to your cat with a dropper. You’ll need to fill the dropper with the appropriate amount of CBD and place it beside you. Then, hold your cat with its rear against your body. Some pet owners prefer to kneel and hug the cat’s hindquarters with their thighs.

This may work better if you wrap your feline in a towel. A towel might calm your cat down and make the experience more tolerable.

With your free hand, tilt the cat’s head upward. Put the dropper in their mouth, and squeeze it to release the CBD oil. Give your cat time to swallow.

Most experts recommend starting with 0.5 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight when you’re giving CBD oil to your cat. You can gradually increase the dosage if that is well tolerated.

What Do Cat Owners Think About Using CBD?

Although there is no rigorous scientific evidence that supports using CBD for felines, some researchers designed a study that looked into pet owners’ use of CBD for their animals.

They found that more people use hemp products for dogs than cats. Approximately 11 percent of respondents had given CBD to their felines. Most of them used CBD for an illness that was diagnosed by a veterinarian, the most prevalent of which included:

• Cancer

• Arthritis

• Anxiety

The most common symptoms for which CBD was effective included:

• Pain

• Inflammation

• Sleep

Some of the pet owners that responded to the survey had stopped giving CBD to their cats. There reasons had to do with expense and ineffectiveness. Nobody who answered the researchers’ survey indicated that their cats experienced negative side effects from CBD. A few users said that CBD made their pets sleepy or hungry.

There are some other anecdotes online about pet owners whose kitties benefited from cannabis. Ernest Misko, a 77-year-old man with chronic back pain, found such relief from marijuana that he began to give it to his cat that was having trouble walking. The tincture that he used didn’t make him feel intoxicated, and he assumed that it did not affect his cat’s mental state. It did help his pet regain mobility within a few days.

Kiki Kane had a similar experience. When her 14-year-old cat, Zaphod, lost his eyesight, mobility and enthusiasm for life, she started giving him CBD oil that she purchased at a local pet store.

After dosing him with the amount that was recommended on the product label, Kane noticed that the cat seemed a little wobbly. However, he was calm and relaxed. She reduced the dosage and found that her kitty seemed much more comfortable and tranquil. The CBD did not improve the cat’s nighttime restlessness, however.

Celeste Yarnall, a former actress and cancer survivor who now promotes feline wellness, started using CBD-rich hemp oil to reduce the negative side effects from chemotherapy.

While she was recovering from her cancer, one of Yarnall’s cats was particularly stressed out. He was licking himself excessively and pulling out his own fur. Yarnall mixed the CBD oil with fish oil and rubbed it on her little fellow’s gums. The licking stopped, and her cat’s mood seemed to return to normal.