Even as more and more people promote CBD for health and wellbeing in humans, research is expanding into the benefits of CBD for cats.
If you didn’t already know, cannabidiol (CBD) has many benefits for human conditions; what you may not know is that CBD can benefit your cat, as well. In people, CBD has been shown to be effective in pain relief, mood management, glaucoma, and a host of other conditions. Research has shown that cats can also benefit from the effects of CBD.
CBD oil: What it is and how it works in cats
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 2 major cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp, 2 terms often used interchangeably.
Humans, cats, and all mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that includes 2 receptors, CB1 and CB2. CB1 is found mainly in the central nervous system and CB2 mostly resides in the immune and digestive systems. Cannabinoids bind to and act on those receptors. Studies into CBD how it affects those receptors to improve the body’s functionality and homeostasis are increasing in humans and in our pets.
CBD oil is a highly concentrated form of the CBD cannabinoid. Sometimes known as a tincture, the CBD is usually in a carrier oil such as olive or MCT oil, which is a combination of several oils including coconut, hemp seed, sunflower, grapeseed, and others. Because of its purity, it can be used medicinally. CBD oil for cats doesn’t come from cannabis, it only comes from hemp. The resulting CBD oil is a safe, natural, and non-toxic remedy for your cat.
THC is toxic for your pet and will make them sick. Only administer 100% pure CBD oil to your cat, and then, only in consultation with your vet.
Ask your retailer whether their products have been tested by a third party for contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals, and other impurities. A reliable and responsible vendor will readily share test results with you. If they don’t test or won’t share the testing results, look elsewhere.
Benefits of CBD for cats
Arthritis and joint pain
It turns out that dogs, notoriously prone to arthritis, are not the only ones to suffer a high incidence of arthritis and joint pain. A 2011 study found 61% of cats, 6 and older, suffer from arthritis in at least one joint. That number rises to 82% in cats 14 and older. Arthritis and joint pain lead to poor mobility and energy, as well as increased pain.
Arthritis, caused by the degeneration of joint cartilage that allows painful bone-to-bone contact, results in chronic inflammation and joint pain. Arthritis affects your cat’s mobility, even just walking.
A powerful anti-inflammatory, CBD can help to mitigate the pain and prevent the spread of inflammation. In addition, researchers have found that CBD can decrease the perceived pain levels through the activation and desensitization of the brain’s vanilloid receptor, which controls pain signals.
CBD can help alleviate stress and anxiety for your cat
Like their owners, cats experience stress and anxiety at levels that vary depending on a cat’s environment. A circumstance such as changes in their home condition, a poor relationship between cats and their humans, catfights, or health problems can all affect a cat’s health and wellbeing.
And, like people, moderate stress can irritate your cat; continued stress will impact health, poor grooming, behavior problems, as well a host of other issues. In addition, it’s difficult for you to notice that your cat is stressed, which perpetuates and increases the problem.
Researchers investigating CBD have noted that it mitigates stress and anxiety. It moderates cortisol (the hormone responsible for stress) production and influences the brain’s receptors that regulate mood and thereby moderate the brain’s stress response.
Reduce epileptic seizures
Just like their owners, cats can suffer from epilepsy and seizures. Seizures occur when the brain’s electrochemical activity reaches an abnormal level, usually as a result of brain damage or a variety of other brain conditions.
CBD acts to reduce the electrical disruption each time it’s taken, creating a cumulative suppressive effect on seizures down the line. It’s no cure, but it does reduce seizure frequency substantially. Given the severe side effects often suffered from pharmaceuticals, CBD’s relatively mild side effects make it a good alternative treatment.
There is a limited but increasing amount of research into CBD as an alternative treatment for feline epilepsy. The American Epilepsy Society’s 2015 study is one of the best-known; it confirmed that CBD effectively reduced the frequency and severity of seizure by a median of 45.1%.
A healthy appetite and eating habits indicate a healthy cat, and the opposite is just as true. Several things can cause poor appetites, such as dental issues and illness. CBD can act to stimulate appetite and to relieve related digestive issues, as well as other health issues.
Cancer and its effects on cats
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are viruses that can cause lymphoma and other cancers in cats. Lymphoma originates in a kind of white blood cell, called a lymphocyte. Lymphocytes play an important role in a cat’s immune system.
Research reveals cats with FeLV are 60 times as likely to contract lymphoma. Studies show that cats diagnosed with FeLV are 60 times more likely to develop lymphoma. By contrast, cats with FIV are only 5 times as likely to contract lymphoma.
In a reversal of usual roles, in 2011 an in-vitro study of human breast cancer cells at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that CBD “helped induced the programmed death of the cancer cells while causing minimal damage to healthy cells.”
Also in 2011, the Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment published a similar study on the effects of CBD on breast cancer cells in mice. The study’s authors concluded the results were evidence of CBD’s anti-tumor effects.
Because of the limited research into the benefits of CBD for cats’ health and well-being, more study is needed. Talk with your vet about the benefits, many pet owners are already convinced about the benefits of CBD for their furry friends.