CBD has become a big thing. So has CBD for dogs.
Major pet stores like PetSmart and Petco sell CBD products designed for dogs (at least, that’s what their labels claim). You can find them in local CBD stores, some veterinary clinics – and of course, online.
But what about cats?
Furbabies suffer from many of the same conditions, illnesses, and diseases that can affect canine patients.
Just as importantly, cats have the same basic endocannabinoid system (ECS) as dogs and humans. Why is that noteworthy? The primary method by which CBD delivers its medical benefits is by interacting with ECS receptors in the body. People have those receptors, and dogs have them, and so do cats.
It would make complete sense, then, that cannabidiol (the actual name for CBD) would provide many of the same results in cats that have been seen in humans and dogs.
But “making sense” isn’t the same thing as having been scientifically proven. And so far, it hasn’t been. CBD has only been legal for sale since 2018, and research into cannabidiol’s benefits for humans – let alone dogs and cats – is still in its infancy.
That doesn’t mean we’re complete without evidence on the benefits of CBD for cats. Some of it is anecdotal, with cat owners providing glowing testimonials. There’s more as well; enough research has been done to examine the effects that cannabidiol has on ECS receptors to make it pretty clear that many cats should benefit from CBD.
One caution, though: many brands of pet CBD aren’t going to help cats. Some brands even contain additives that may harm.
That makes it crucial to find the highest-quality CBD oil and to be sure it’s been designed for feline use. We’ll explain just what that means after our comprehensive reviews of the best CBD oil for cats.
Best CBD Oil for Cats
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Many companies take their CBD oil for humans and rebrand it for pets. Royal doesn’t. It uses the same high-end production techniques – cannabidiol extracted via the supercritical CO2 method from American organic hemp, MCT carrier oil, full-spectrum CBD, no unnecessary additives – and the only extra ingredient is pet-friendly natural bacon flavor.
However, the potencies have been designed very differently and are perfect for cats. You can choose from 4mg/ml, 8.5mg/ml, and 17mg/ml strengths options; even the 4mg/ml CBD oil can be used for smaller cats suffering from lesser issues by administering just ¼ of a milliliter or so. Compare that with Royal’s human dosage options ranging from 8mg/ml up to 83.3mg/ml, and you see how the company has created a product that fits the needs of cats, not humans.
It’s easy to understand why they take such care. Royal was founded by medical marijuana specialists who moved into CBD to bring their high standards to an industry largely governed by a “Wild West” mentality. And they put just as much care into their CBD for cats.
Things We Liked:
- Smartly designed for cats, not humans
- Good range of dosages for all sizes of cats
- Organic American hemp, supercritical CO2 extraction
- Full-spectrum oil with the full entourage effect
- The company is devoted to quality
Things We Didn’t Like:
- Rather a high price
This is another excellent CBD oil produced by a company that’s so focused on quality that they only use one manufacturing facility to monitor each batch carefully and prevent any possible contamination.
Their hemp is sourced from organic U.S. farmers, they use the supercritical CO2 process to extract the cannabidiol, they leave in all of the components to produce a full-spectrum oil with the entourage effect, and they use MCT carrier oil as well. The only real production difference from Royal’s oil is that it’s peanut butter-flavored, not bacon-flavored. (The flavoring is natural, not artificial.)
The one potential issue you may face is that the potencies offered by Gold Bee are higher than Royal’s: 10mg/ml and 20mg/ml. That’s probably too strong for small cats, particularly if they’re only dealing with stress or minor pain. Larger cats suffering from serious issues like IBD, seizures, or serious pain could likely benefit from the stronger doses, though.
Oh, there actually is a second potential issue: this CBD oil is so popular and produced in such small amounts that it may be sold out if you try to buy it on Gold Bee’s website.
Things We Liked:
- Full-spectrum oil produced from organic American hemp
- Impressive attention to quality
- The best possible extraction method and carrier oil
Things We Didn’t Like:
- Potency options are rather high for most cats
- Often sold out on the website
3. CDBPet Hemp Oil
Here’s one more quality CBD oil for cats, but the biggest potential issue with this one isn’t that the potency may be too high – it may be too low. There’s only one strength option, 1.67mg/ml, which could be perfect for small cats with minor health problems but would require giving multiple droppers filled with oil to large cats. That’s not a task we’d look forward to.
As we said, the quality is good; you’ll notice that we didn’t say it’s terrific, however. The hemp is organically grown in America, and there are no added ingredients other than hemp seed oil (a safe but second-best choice) as a carrier; that does mean there’s no added flavoring. But this is CBD isolate rather than a full-spectrum oil so that it won’t be quite as effective as Royal or Gold Bee’s oils, and the extraction methods (cold-pressing and standard CO2 extraction) are safe but not optimal.
Good, not terrific – but perhaps the right choice for your tiny cat.
Things We Liked:
- Sourced from organic American hemp
- Safe production methods
- Low potency may be good for some small cats
Things We Didn’t Like:
- CBD isolate, not full-spectrum
- Low potency is not suitable for larger cats or those with serious illnesses
- Second-best choices for extraction and carrier oil
CBD Oil for Cats Buying Guide
Most cat owners are certainly familiar with the common medical issues their pets can face. Most can count on dealing with problems like fleas, worms, hairballs, or periodontal disease.
Unfortunately, it often doesn’t end there, particularly as cats grow older. Arthritis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disease, kidney disease, epilepsy, and cancer are among the serious conditions and diseases that cats may develop over time.
And there’s evidence that CBD may be able to treat all of those issues.
CBD and Cats: Why Would It Help?
There aren’t any peer-reviewed studies that have been conducted to examine the benefits that CBD might provide for cats. In fact, there have only been a few studying dogs.
But the canine research, along with the growing body of evidence scientists have gathered on the overall medical benefits of cannabidiol, gives us some pretty clear indications of how CBD may be able to help cats suffering from medical issues.
Before getting into details, let’s restate why CBD research that doesn’t involve cats is germane. Many aspects of the feline anatomy are similar to those of humans and canines; the most important, for our purposes, is the presence of an endocannabinoid system.
The ECS is essentially a “signaling system” that helps control an enormous number of bodily functions and processes. Cannabinoids like CBD interact with the ECS to boost or reduce those signals – so they’re able to exert a great deal of influence on everything from pain and inflammation to mood, digestion, and learning.
Cats have an enormous number of ECS receptors throughout their body. That means that cannabidiol should theoretically interact with them in the same way as it does in other mammals.
CBD and Health Issues: The Evidence
We’ve listed a number of the serious health issues that cats (and by proxy, their owners) may have to deal with over their lives. Research has shown CBD to be effective as a treatment for most of them.
Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is prevalent in cats as they age, with as many as 90% of older cats showing at least some signs of impaired mobility or joint damage. Feline rheumatoid arthritis is seen less often but is still a problem for many cats. And one of the few studies that have been done with dogs shows that CBD has the potential of providing substantial relief from arthritis. Dogs who received CBD oil for a month showed significant improvement in both mobility and pain levels (1). That supports numerous studies showing similar results for humans suffering from both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis (2).
Pain: Pain is, of course, one of the consequences of arthritis, but several physical ailments and diseases can cause serious pain in cats. One of the most-researched abilities of cannabidiol is its power to relieve both serious and chronic pain when taken internally and when used topically to treat surface-level pain (3).
Diabetes: Feline diabetes is becoming more common as time goes on, with an estimated 1% of cats in America eventually developing the disease. Some studies have examined the potential of CBD to treat diabetes in animals and humans; among the findings were that doses of cannabidiol apparently prevented many rats from becoming diabetic and that CBD seems to improve or even reverse diabetes in humans while also helping to prevent common complications of the disease.
Gastrointestinal Diseases: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is one of several GI diseases that can affect cats as they grow older. There’s been a comprehensive survey of research into CBD’s effect on those diseases when suffered by humans; it found that cannabidiol appears to mitigate many of the symptoms of inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases like IBD, Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis. That argues for the possibility it could do the same for cats.
Stress and Anxiety: You may not blame medical conditions when your cat reacts strongly to loud noises, strangers, or being alone all day. However, they’re all examples of anxiety or stress, a frequent feline problem. CBD is effective as a treatment for all forms of human anxiety. Some studies have concluded that it’s as effective as many common prescription medications, without side effects. Just as importantly, anecdotal reports on the use of cannabidiol to ease cat anxiety have been almost uniformly positive.
Kidney Disease: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects nearly one-third of older cats. Research is still in its infancy, but there are preliminary indications that CBD may be able to successfully treat the symptoms of CKD in both animals and humans (4).
Epilepsy: Only an estimated 1% of cats are diagnosed with epilepsy – but incidental feline seizures are much more common, frightening to witness, and somewhat difficult to treat. The only human disease for which CBD is government-approved as a treatment is an epilepsy because it unquestionably reduces seizures dramatically (5). One of the only CBD preliminary research studies conducted with canine patients found that the cannabinoid reduced seizures in dogs by nearly 90%.
Cancer: One of the holy grails of medical research is finding a treatment for cancer with few or no side effects. And a preliminary study on cancerous canine cells has discovered that cannabidiol may not only be able to prevent the spread of cancer but actually reverse its growth.
Inflammation: One common factor in many of these conditions and diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and IBD, is that they’re caused by inflammation in the body. CBD has been repeatedly shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain its effectiveness in treating many medical issues.
So there’s no definitive proof that cannabidiol can treat or cure feline illness. But there are so many signs that it might – and so many anecdotal reports that it does – that trying CBD oil for a cat who’s sick or in pain makes nothing but sense.
Where do you go from there?
CBD Products for Cats
There are two options to choose from when you decide to give your cat CBD: treats and oil. Treats are certainly easier to give to a pet, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right choice.
The cannabidiol that’s inside CBD treats can’t do any good until the treatment has been digested; some of the CBD’s potency is lost in the process, which can take more than an hour (not optimal if your cat is in pain or suffering from anxiety). That’s not the only reason CBD treats are less potent, either. Many treats have to be cooked or baked, which destroys much of the cannabidiol’s strength.
Using CBD oil means that your pet will get almost all of the medicinal power of the cannabidiol because it goes right into the bloodstream after you administer it.
But there’s a complicating factor. The right way to use CBD oil is to use a medicine dropper to put it underneath your cat’s tongue, where it’s absorbed by glands located there. Some cats will stay still long enough for you to do that, but needless to say, not all of them will. We can provide no words of wisdom to make your cat more compliant; we’ll say that convincing him to go along with the game plan is worth the effort.
You can also mix the CBD oil with his food if need be, but be aware that some of the cannabidiol’s potency will be lost that way.
The proper dosage of CBD oil is calculated based on a pet’s weight. It can be a little complicated to run the numbers at first, but there should be dosing instructions on the bottle or packaging, or you can ask an open-minded vet for suggestions.
Otherwise, here are dosage guidelines often used for pets:
- Stress, anxiety, mild pain: 0.2 milligrams for every five pounds of weight
- Arthritis, moderate pain: 0.4-0.6 milligrams for every five pounds of weight
- Serious pain, IBD, diabetes, occasional seizures: 1-2 milligrams for every five pounds
- Epilepsy, cancer pain, or hospice care: 2-10 milligrams for every five pounds
Be careful: those dosages tell you how much CBD to use, not how much oil. You have to do a bit of math to figure out the amount of oil to give your cat.
- The key number to look for is listed as mg/ml, which means milligrams per milliliter. It tells you how many milligrams of CBD are in each milliliter of oil. (Ignore the big number on the bottle like “125mg” – that tells you how much cannabidiol is in the entire bottle.)
- Let’s say your cat weighs ten pounds and has arthritis. According to the guidelines, you’d want to give him approximately one milligram of CBD.
- If you buy CBD oil that contains 4mg/ml, divide by four, and you find that it contains 1 milligram of CBD in each ¼ milliliter of oil. ¼ milliliter would be the right dose.
The good news is that you only have to do that calculation once, and you’ll always know the correct dose.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
Yes. Researchers studied that question by giving CBD oil to dogs and cats for 12 weeks. The cannabidiol produced no serious side effects in dogs, and only one cat had what could be described as a minor side effect (excessive licking and head shaking). Obviously, it’s easy enough to discontinue the CBD if you find your cat exhibits those problems, but the research shows even that effect is improbable.
One other quick point: CBD oil isn’t pot. Marijuana should never be given to a cat, but CBD contains only a minuscule amount of the “problematic” cannabinoid in THC. It’s not enough to endanger your pet or even make him high – so there’s nothing to worry about.
Shopping for CBD Oil
We probably don’t have to tell you that you should always pay attention to what you give your cat, whether it’s food or CBD oil. And if you’re treating your pet for a medical issue, it’s even more important to be sure he’s only consuming safe, natural products.
You already know that CBD is safe for cats. Sadly, that doesn’t mean every producer uses manufacturing practices ensuring their oil won’t be harmful, and their product will be effective. Some companies pump out CBD oil with the primary goal of making quick profits, and they aren’t always as scrupulously careful as they should be.
So that puts the responsibility on you. You should check out producers and their products carefully to be sure you’re buying the highest-quality natural CBD oil that’s available for your cat.
Here’s a cheat sheet to help.
- Try to learn a little about the company that produced the oil. Huge companies – or ones that won’t tell you about their background – are more likely to mass-produce lower-quality CBD oil. Look for smaller companies dedicated to pets and/or CBD, not widespread distribution, and low prices (often low because the companies cut corners).
- Look for “full-spectrum” oil. That means the cannabidiol contains all of the components of the hemp plant. Flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids other than CBD work hand-in-hand to boost the potency of the cannabidiol in what’s called the entourage effect, making full-spectrum CBD the most effective. “Broad-spectrum” CBD only removes the tiny amount of THC and is the second-best choice, while “CBD isolate” removes everything but the cannabidiol and is a somewhat poor third choice.
- Make sure the CBD has been sourced from American, organic hemp. It’s by far the healthiest choice for your cat because it doesn’t contain any of the toxic pesticides or chemicals used in non-organic farming, and the growers have had to adhere to strict U.S. farming regulations.
- Make sure the cannabidiol hasn’t been extracted from hemp by an unsafe method that utilizes hydrocarbons or chemical solvents. The best method is called “supercritical CO2 extraction” because it’s safe and maintains maximum potency. Standard CO2 extraction, cold-press extraction, steam distillation, and extraction with natural solvents are all safe but less desirable in terms of potency.
- Make sure that the CBD oil’s ingredients are all-natural. In fact, there’s really no need for any ingredients other than cannabidiol and a carrier oil; MCT oils like coconut oil are the best choice for carrier oils. The only other ingredient that’s acceptable is a natural flavoring agent; anything else, even natural additives, could be allergens that could harm your cat.