We all know cats are sensitive creatures, often preferring to be left to their ways. So it is not surprising that they often get anxious or frustrated by the things happening around them.
The domestic cat is adept at masking stress or pain symptoms. That's because, in the wild, this would be like screaming to predators, "I'm vulnerable; come get me!"
Today's domestic cat descended from the Near Eastern or African wildcat, a solitary species. While dogs have adapted quite well to living with humans, cats are somewhat more independent and still hold on to their animal instincts.
So, for cats, showing signs of weakness is not an option.
But for all their bravado, cats, like dogs, are afraid of many things. Loud noise, firecrackers, thunderstorms, etc., can send even the calmest of these felines scrambling for dear life.
Cat stress manifests differently, so identifying an anxious one is not always straightforward. Be that as it may, the sooner you recognize the signs of your cat’s stress, the faster you can help.
Therefore, pay close attention to your cat's physical well-being and behavior to spot anything "out of character" that might be a symptom of stress. After that, there are several ways you can help out.
- Cat stress can either be generalized or situational
- Ideally, tests are necessary to help determine the cause of a cat’s stress. Some medical conditions present similar symptoms to anxiety
- Despite the scarcity of research on the effects of CBD on cats, growing anecdotal evidence suggests CBD may help with managing stress
- CBD is non-psychoactive and does not induce mind-altering effects
Can CBD oil help anxious cats?
There is mounting anecdotal evidence that cannabidiol (CBD) may help cats with stress. In fact, many pet owners use CBD pet products to treat a variety of diseases and illnesses in dogs and cats.
According to a Leafreport survey of nearly 1,500 pet owners, 50% reported using CBD for their cats and dogs. The survey showed CBD use among pets was likely when recommended by a veterinarian. So, it appears professionals are gradually embracing CBD and its therapeutic potential.
CBD research is gathering momentum, and there's a growing body of research evidence supporting the benefits of CBD in animals. One of these is stress.
Numerous research studies suggest that CBD has anxiolytic effects in animals. For example, a National Institute on Drug Abuse report observed that CBD might help reduce stress in animals like rats. The rats displayed fewer symptoms, such as lower heart rates.
Human studies also support these findings. For example, a 2011 study on the effects of CBD on people who are anxious in social situations indicated that the study participants experienced reduced stress levels.
Other studies have demonstrated that CBD may help with PTSD symptoms, such as replaying negative memories and nightmares.
Similarly, a 2018 study showed that participants who received CBD treatment before undergoing a stress-inducing test (simulated public speaking) registered significantly lower stress ratings.
Importantly, this study demonstrated that CBD's anxiolytic effects were dose-dependent. In the study, 300 mg of CBD proved more effective at reducing stress than 150 mg or 600 mg.
While more research is needed to confirm these early findings, CBD's ability to reduce stress in animals and humans looks promising. Indeed, pet stress is one of the top five reasons pet owners choose CBD for their animal companions.
Does CBD oil calm cats?
The short answer is probably yes. In his webinar to members of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA), Dr. Gary Richter registered optimism that CBD oil may help pets with various health conditions, including stress. He recounted the many times he'd seen pets with chronic pain resume walking comfortably after a few days of CBD treatment.
However, he points out that not every animal responds to CBD.
Another veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, undertook a survey and found that nearly half of the participating pet owners used CBD products. The majority were largely satisfied with its effectiveness.
CBD's ability to effectively manage cat stress owes to its interactions with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In animals, this system mediates many bodily functions, including sleep, pain processing, mood, body temperature, learning and memory, and eating.
The ECS comprises endocannabinoid receptors that endocannabinoids (also called neurotransmitters) bind to, triggering positive physiological reactions. Depending on the receptor and its location in the body, the response could lead to pain relief, stress reduction, better sleep, etc.
Plant cannabinoids (e.g., CBD, THC, and CBN) can activate these receptors just as well as the body's neurotransmitters. Once activated, similar physiological responses are triggered.
Cats, like other animals, also have an ECS. This means giving them CBD stimulates their ECS and predisposes them to the associated benefits. However, it's noteworthy that there are extremely few medical studies on the effects of CBD oil on cats.
It's also worth noting that CBD oil is generally safe for dogs and cats. However, from a medical perspective, the primary concern is ensuring that pets are given the correct doses.
Some CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC, known for its toxicity in animals. So, it's always advisable to administer small CBD doses to pets to avoid accidental overdosing.
What's the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil?
It's easy to confuse CBD oil and hemp oil because legal CBD is obtained from hemp. But strictly speaking, CBD and hemp oil are not the same.
Hemp oil is obtained from pressed hemp seeds that typically do not have CBD. On the other hand, CBD oil is obtained from hemp parts like flowers, stalks, and leaves. These parts are generally CBD-rich.
Both products are non-psychoactive and come from the same hemp plant. When choosing a CBD product for a pet, ensure you buy CBD oil, not hemp oil. Otherwise, you may wonder why your cat's symptoms persist even after extended treatment, only to realize you've been using hemp oil!
Symptoms of situational stress in cats
Many symptoms of feline stress could just be bad behavior, so it's vital to pay attention when a cat begins exhibiting signs of distress. Feline stress is frequently triggered by specific objects, events, environmental changes, or routines. Knowing when the problems started will help determine the best technique to calm your pet.
Feline stress is classified into two types: generalized and situational. With the latter, a cat behaves anxiously only in particular situations, such as when left alone at home, driving to the veterinary clinic, or traveling in the car.
The most common form of situational stress is due to separation. According to pet experts, cats can get attached to their owners. This is exemplified by following their owners around the house and generally trying to be near them.
When their owners leave home, cats can get anxious and show this by licking themselves, hiding, or destroying furniture, among other things.
However, cats with generalized stress are constantly stressed out, and their worrying occurs regardless of who they are with, where they are, or what's happening around them.
Such cats may be timid and hide frequently or turn hostile toward household pets and people—even family members. They may also exhibit repetitive behaviors like tail-chasing, excessive grooming, pacing, or clinginess.
Other symptoms of feline stress include:
- Disinterest in previously liked activities
- Increased vocalization
- Inappropriate defecation
- Destructive behavior
- Trying to escape
- Appetite changes
There are no tests for detecting stress in cats. However, blood tests, radiographs, and urine tests can be done to uncover underlying medical problems that have similar symptoms to stress.
For example, gastrointestinal and bladder issues may cause unusual litter box habits, while excessive grooming could indicate a skin allergy. A cat in pain will frequently exhibit symptoms of stress.
So, as mentioned earlier, it's not always a straightforward process to detect these symptoms in these felines.
Ways CBD may aid in calming your cat
Despite its wide-ranging potential health benefits, CBD is not a panacea for all your pet's health problems. So, it's equally important to consult a vet whenever your pet develops health issues.
Supplementing conventional treatments with CBD may be a good idea. It may help alleviate the following:
The "munchies" are more associated with THC than CBD, and research findings are inconclusive on CBD's ability to stimulate appetite. Some studies portray CBD as an appetite stimulant, while others suggest it's an appetite suppressant.
Cats manifest stress in various ways, and hiding is one of them. If your cat hides a lot, it may indicate something is wrong. Find out what's causing the issue and respond accordingly.
Stress from multi-cat households
Having other pets around may contribute to your cat's stress, especially if it's new around the place. This can also happen when it gets "picked on" or bullied by the other cats. CBD may help calm the cat in the presence of other cats.
Fear of the litter box
Cats might associate fear with their litter box if something scared them around or in it. This litter box problem is often resolved with patience. CBD may also come in handy in calming the cat in such situations.
Besides stress, excessive meowing may signal your cat's in pain, has a neurological problem, or has cognitive dysfunction. That's why running a medical test is vital to know what's causing the behavior.
Trips to the vet & car rides
Trips to the vet and car rides are inevitable. But you can make it easier on the cat by putting a light blanket over its transportation crate until you reach the destination. CBD may also help calm the cat during such events.
Change in the environment
Cats are naturally sensitive creatures, and little environmental changes can cause them stress. To avoid drastic reactions, try to make the changes gradually. If you're moving to a new house, for example, keep the cat closed off in a separate room with its favorite toys as you unpack and rearrange the household.
Grumpiness or aggression toward other animals
Dealing with this problem may entail keeping the cat away from the offending animals. You could also take measures to prevent foreign animals from entering your yard.
Will CBD oil make your cat high?
No, which is why CBD has emerged as a popular natural supplement for pets. It's non-psychoactive and doesn't induce mind-altering effects. But if your cat shows signs of intoxication after taking CBD, you may want to check if the CBD is THC-free.
CBD is not regulated, so manufacturers do what they want with their products. Check out the certificate of analysis (CoA) to learn more about the product's contents.
How do you choose the best CBD oil for cats?
High-quality CBD is the best CBD for your cat. At FOCL, we pull out all the stops to give your pet the best CBD. Our Premium CBD Pet Drops are 100% THC-free and packed with organic ingredients to help calm and offer relief to our furry companions.
Put a few drops of CBD oil under their tongue or in their food.
How much CBD should you give your cat for stress?
CBD dosing is subjective and largely depends on the size of a cat and the severity of the condition. Generally, we recommend a range of 1-5 milligrams of CBD for every 10 pounds of weight.
A little experimenting may be necessary to find the correct dose since every cat responds to CBD differently. Start with smaller doses and increase gradually depending on how the cat responds.