Does CBD Help Cats with Anxiety? - FOCL

Does CBD Help Cats with Anxiety?

There are dog people and cat people. People who love cats are attracted by their harmless mischief, unending curiosity (curiosity killed the cat, remember?), independence, serenity, and elegance.

In some cultures, these feline creatures symbolize good luck. 

But like all pets, cats are only fun and loving when everything is okay. When they are anticipating danger, they can become anxious and unpredictable.

Cats can become tense in response to a specific stimulus or following a traumatic event such as moving to a new place, redecorating the house, adding a new pet, or even construction noise.

Even though anxiety in cats can develop at any time, most cat owners report being capable of telling if their pet is anxious between the ages of 5 months and one year.

With time, it may worsen, so taking the necessary measures to remove stressors and mitigate the effects of anxiety in your cat is important.


Can cats take CBD oil for anxiety?

To alleviate anxiety in their pets, some cat owners use a plethora of solutions, including CBD oil. However, the all-important consideration is whether the CBD oil contains the psychoactive compound THC. 

Like dogs, cats are seriously affected by THC, with the following symptoms commonly observed:

  • Extreme lethargy
  • Slower heart rate
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Seizures
  • Drooling
  • Twitching
  • Agitation
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Dilated pupils
  • Coma
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Urinary incontinence

So, as you can see, you should ensure your CBD oil does not contain any THC.

This is not difficult to do as hemp CBD typically has minute traces of THC (usually less than 0.3%). In such lower concentrations, THC cannot profoundly affect pets by inducing a “high” and causing undesired effects. 

Nevertheless, the answer to whether cats can take CBD oil is yes. And this is because, like all mammals, cats have an endocannabinoid system regulating several body functions. Homeostasis is one of these functions.

At the core, homeostasis is concerned with maintaining body balance.

For example, when body temperatures go out of the optimal range, the skin responds by either producing sweat (high temperatures) or trapping an envelope of air around it (low temperatures) to regulate the temperature accordingly. These actions stabilize the body’s temperature within the optimal range.

So the endocannabinoid system is part of why CBD oil can be used in cats to alleviate stress and anxiety. 

How does this exactly happen? Read on.


Does CBD work for cat anxiety?

CBD has shown potential to help combat symptoms associated with stress and anxiety in pets, including cats. This is because its therapeutic properties are activated when it interacts with the endocannabinoid system.

Besides quieting your cat, CBD may also mitigate the symptoms that worsen the cat’s stress and anxiety. Like dogs, cats also develop joint arthritis – a condition that can severely affect their quality of life. 

Further, as cats grow older, they may develop dementia. This condition has been noted to worsen anxiety in cats. CBD’s therapeutic properties may help reduce some symptoms associated with cat dementia.

Moreover, its anti-inflammatory properties may lessen low-grade brain inflammation known to make cat dementia worse.

CBD is also a natural antioxidant and may have a role in protecting healthy brain cells from oxidative stress. This condition is a significant facilitator of neurodegenerative diseases in the brain. 

So all indications are that CBD may work for cats with anxiety.


How does CBD help anxiety in cats?

It all starts with the endocannabinoid system. This intricate cell signaling system comprises cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, enzymes, and chemical neurotransmitters all over the body. 

Research shows that this system is a therapeutic target in various physiological processes such as:

  • Pain
  • Blood pressure
  • Energy balance
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Memory and learning
  • Embryonic development
  • Immune response 
  • Nausea and vomiting

It is also believed to be the main site for pathological conditions and brain disorders.

Like humans, cats naturally produce endocannabinoids across various body organs such as the brain, muscles, and circulating cells. Once these endocannabinoids bind with endocannabinoid receptors throughout the body, they are activated. 

Researchers are unsure of the exact science, but they believe that activating these receptors stimulates wide-ranging chemical processes that help correct the situation.

Once the situation has been remedied, the endocannabinoid system releases enzymes to break down the endocannabinoids binding with the receptors to stop the process. 

It’s been shown that stress and anxiety are accompanied by the production of the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone helps with certain functions that co-occur when the body is in a heightened state of alert. These include motivation, mood, and fear control. 

At the granular level, cortisol:

  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Mitigates inflammation
  • Increases blood sugar
  • Controls the sleep-wake cycle
  • Tapers down inflammation
  • Manages the use of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins
  • Boosts energy levels

So, cortisol is needed to sustain the body through a stressful period. However, sometimes too much stress can lead to the overproduction of cortisol and pose substantial risks to your cat’s health. In such instances, CBD may come in handy.

Research shows that CBD may instill calm in pets by lowering cortisol levels in their system through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. It also acts as a sedative, promoting better sleep. 

Take note, however, that there isn’t enough scientific backing for the effectiveness of CBD in cats. In fact, the limited studies were anything but promising for cat owners. 

For instance, a 2019 animal study examining the effects of CBD on blood chemistry indicated that cats displayed lower serum concentrations as well as behavioral changes such as licking and head-shaking.

Nonetheless, at this point, there are no reports of negative side effects linked to the administration of CBD products in animals.


CBD for cats with separation anxiety 

Despite being relatively more independent and self-sufficient than dogs, cats can also develop strong bonds with their owners. If this bond becomes very deep, domestic cats may become anxious when left behind alone. 

Usually, feelings of abandonment and other traumatic experiences can trigger their anxiety and lead to more behavioral problems.

So if your cat displays these symptoms, it may be having anxiety.

  • Excess vocalization
  • Excessive grooming
  • Destroying things
  • Attention seeking
  • Increased salivation
  • Trying to escape or hiding
  • Appetite changes
  • Trembling 

You may need to address the issues causing the stress. Without medical causes, the veterinarian may recommend medications like antidepressants and anxiolytics to stabilize chemical imbalances in the cat’s brain and bring about a calmer mood.

CBD’s anxiolytic properties are well-established in science. And so, for cats with separation anxiety, CBD might be worth trying. More importantly, CBD’s versatility means it can be given to cats orally or topically.

Massage therapy has been noted to be quite beneficial to cats with anxiety. It involves manipulating soft tissues using specific techniques that entail moving and holding the tissues and applying pressure in various ways.

A 2014 study established that massages have numerous effects on muscles, the nervous system, the mind, and the circulatory system.

CBD massage oils and creams are inherently therapeutic for the body and mind. The cat and the person massaging it reap the benefits of CBD. In most cases, CBD massage creams and oils contain other ingredients like almond, coconut, or jojoba oil. 

Broad spectrum CBD oil is also rich in vital nutrients like omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. Studies show that omega 3 fatty acids are potential stress relievers and may even reduce symptoms of certain anxiety disorders. 


CBD dosage for cats with anxiety

CBD has a generally great safety profile, meaning it can be used on pets. However, even cats respond differently to this cannabis compound, so it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Many factors determine the correct amount of CBD to give your cat. These are age, diet, body weight, and overall health condition. One downside of CBD is the lack of official guidelines to calculate the dosage for specific health issues.

This is compounded by the fact that different CBD manufacturers often use different dosing guidelines.

It’s usually advisable to err on the side of under-dosing than overdosing. So start with little doses and make your way up gradually over time. The typical dosing rule for cats is 1 to 5mg of CBD per 10 pounds of body weight. 

It is still good practice to consult your veterinary specialist to help you determine the appropriate CBD dosage.

CBD dosing is normally given in ranges because these products vary in potency. Check the total quantity of CBD in the product to make it easier to calculate the correct dosage. But determining the amount of CBD to give your cat is only one part of the battle. 

For general purposes, such as to calm your cat when you have guests around, a single dose of CBD 30 minutes before the guests arrive should do the job. However, if you’re managing a condition such as minor pains or anxiety, one or two doses daily may do the trick. 

Higher doses may be necessary if it’s for more serious conditions. Regardless, the servings should not be lesser than eight hours apart. Consult your veterinary doctor if you’re unsure.


Final words

So far, there haven’t been reports associating CBD use in cats with adverse health effects. However, CBD has not been approved by the FDA for use on pets.

Be that as it may, many veterinarians recommend using CBD to manage certain conditions in cats. 

While its safety profile is good, there have been a few noted negative side effects, especially when the dosing is too heavy. So pay keen attention to the manufacturer’s dosing guidelines and always consult an expert when you are not sure of anything.