Cannabidiol (CBD) oil has become increasingly popular for its potential to support nearly all aspects of human health and wellness. Recently, studies have suggested that the potential benefits of CBD for humans may also extend to our feline friends. We reached out to Juliana Carella (the founder and CEO of Treatibles) and Stephen Cital (a registered veterinary technician, SRA, RLAT, VTS-LAM, and the co-founder of the Veterinary Cannabis Academy) to learn more about CBD oil and how it may support better health for your furry friends.
Understanding CBD and Hemp
Cannabinoids are a group of chemical compounds that naturally occur in all humans and animals in the form of endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoid systems have been found to help your body maintain its neurological, immunological, and physiological systems.
Cannabinoids are also found in plants of the genus Cannabaceae, which includes cannabis and hemp. Although THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most well-known cannabinoid and the most active compound in marijuana, CBD is another common active compound found within the Cannabaceae genus. While THC is most notably associated with its psychoactive properties, CBD is better known for instilling a “body high” that may potentially contribute to greater relaxation, improved sleep, and other elements of your health and wellbeing.
Hemp and cannabis are closely related, but they have distinctly different effects as a result of their phytocannabinoid content. Phytocannabinoids derived from hemp are free of any psychoactive compounds, preventing the high that is usually associated with cannabis. In fact, hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Hemp-based phytocannabinoids are legal in all 50 states.
How Does CBD Work?
The naturally occurring compounds in cats and other animals include THC and CBD, among several others. These cannabinoids then attach to receptors within your cat’s body, known as cannabinoid receptors type 1 and 2 (or simply CB1 and CB2). When a cannabinoid attaches to one of these receptors, it essentially flips a switch, resulting in various physiological effects.
“As with all animals, cats have a concentration of cannabinoid receptors in their brains and bodies,” says Juliana Carella. “Think of receptors as a lock with cannabinoids as a key. When they connect, the door opens. If there is a deficiency of endocannabinoid production, the cat’s multiple receptors will utilize the addition of phytocannabinoids to help create balance and provide support for relaxing, repairing, or restoring.”
Although CB1 receptors can be found throughout the body, most are located within the brain. THC attaches to CB1 receptors, which controls various functions, including:
- Mood and emotions
CB2 receptors center more in the immune system and have been found to affect pain and inflammation. While some studies initially believed that CBD attached to CB2 receptors, more recent research suggests that CBD doesn’t have a direct effect on either type of receptor and instead affects your body’s own production of cannabinoids.
What are the Benefits of CBD for Cats?
CBD may offer a wide variety of benefits for your cat’s overall health and wellbeing in an all-natural formulation.
“What we do know is cats have an endocannabinoid system like all mammals,” says Stephen Cital. “The endocannabinoid system is responsible for aiding other physiological systems in the normal ‘maintenance’ of the body, while also playing a role in decreasing pain, inflammation, anxiety, etc.”
Carella suggests that CBD and phytocannabinoids, in general, are particularly effective in relaxation and bringing calm and balance to cats experiencing various health conditions. She says, “In addition to promoting healthy joints and digestion, phytocannabinoids are recognized for supporting organ health, helping with general anxiety, separation anxiety, discomfort, loss of appetite, nausea, end of life comfort, and more.”
Are There Any Possible Side Effects?
As with anything you give your cat, you want to make sure your feline friend won’t experience any negative side effects. Thankfully, CBD is all-natural and generally should not lead to any unwanted side effects.
Carella says, “Although there are no known negative side effects from cannabidiol, every cat is a unique individual with individual needs. CBD is not a sedative. However, some cats may relax to the point of sleeping. Because hemp-derived phytocannabinoids are non-psychoactive, they are non-toxic. It is virtually impossible for a cat to overdose.”
She also confirms that CBD products are safe for cats to take along with any over-the-counter or prescription medication. However, as with any new supplement or addition to your cat’s diet, make sure to discuss it with your veterinarian first.
What are the Best Ways to Give a Cat CBD?
Delivering any sort of supplement to your cat can be a challenging task. As Cital says, “Cats are notorious for being difficult to give anything to that is not of their inclination.”
Both Carella and Cital agree that tinctures and oils tend to be the most effective means of administering CBD, as they allow you to measure out how much you give your cat.
However, CBD oils are not always the most palatable products for cats when used on their own. Carella suggests stirring the oil directly into moist cat food or mixing it with butter, yogurt, tuna juice, or other treats your cat loves.
CBD oil can be a great tool for pet owners to promote the wellness of their beloved furry friends. If you have any questions or want to learn more about CBD oil, contact us or take a look at our frequently asked questions.