Hemp Oil for Cats: What Are the Benefits & How Does It Work?

Illustration for Hemp Oil for Cats
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: November 18, 2021

Hemp oil has a plethora of health benefits for cats. If your cat’s diet doesn’t include hemp oil, you might be missing out on a lot of opportunities to improve their well-being.

For some cat parents, hemp oil has become a game-changer — this applies to both hemp seed oil and CBD oil.

From essential nutrients to phytocannabinoids that support the mammalian endocannabinoid system, hemp extracts can be an inseparable element of your cat’s healthy lifestyle.

In this article, we’ll cover why hemp oil is an effective holistic product for cats. You’ll learn why cat parents are choosing it as the go-to supplement for their purrs — and how to pick out the best products in this novel niche.

Hemp Oil for Cats: An Overview

For most people, hemp and cats don’t go well together in one sentence. That’s because they associate it with marijuana and fall under the false assumption that hemp will get their cat high.

However, this isn’t the case for hemp, as this variety of cannabis contains around 0.3% of THC (or less) in dry mass.

In simple words, hemp oil is a non-intoxicating, natural product that doesn’t produce any feelings of being high because its chemical makeup doesn’t allow for it.

That being said, hemp oil can have a myriad of health benefits for cats — both for their physical and mental well-being.

To obtain hemp oil, manufacturers use different extraction techniques to pull the desired compounds from the plant matter. The final product has a dark-green color and an earthy-nutty scent.

People have been using hemp oil for centuries. For example, in 1500 BC, the Chinese, Indians, and Egyptians all used it to treat various ailments. In 1800, Europeans also started to embrace its therapeutic potential.

Hemp is considered a superfood that boasts high amounts of essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber — providing a nutritious boost that your cat can benefit from.

Different Types of Hemp Oil for Cats

Hemp oil is an umbrella term that covers two types of oils — CBD oil and hemp seed oil — depending on which parts of hemp were used for extraction.

Hempseed Oil

As the name implies, this type of hemp oil is extracted from the seeds. You can find two types of hempseed oil — refined and unrefined.

Unrefined hemp seed oil typically has a green color and earthy-nutty aroma and flavor. The color indicates a dense nutritional content. Manufacturers obtain this oil through cold-press extraction.

Once extracted, filtered, and poured into bottles, it has a short life and needs to be refrigerated once you’ve opened it.

Refined hempseed oil is clear due to bleaching and deodorization. It’s often used for body care because it lacks nutritional value.

Speaking of the nutrients, hemp seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, and trace minerals.

CBD Hemp Oil

CBD oil is a therapeutic extract sourced from the mature flowers of hemp. The flowers contain CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — all of which interact with your endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is the master regulatory network in all mammals. It regulates homeostasis between other systems and organs throughout the body.

This system controls vital biological processes, such as memory, mood, body temperature, pain perception, appetite, pleasure, fear, immune function, sleep cycles, fertility, neuroprotection, digestion, and more.

Since CBD is the modulator of the ECS, it’s no wonder why it demonstrates such great versatility as a health supplement.

Most people use CBD oil for:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Neurodegenerative disorders

Cats, too, have an ECS, meaning they can reap similar benefits from taking CBD hemp oil.

What Is Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil for Cats?

Woman Carrying Cat and Feeding it Hemp Oil

Full-spectrum CBD oil is the least processed form of hemp oil. It contains all of the compounds in hemp, including CBD, supportive cannabinoids, terpenes, and traces of THC.

Full-spectrum CBD is the most effective type of hemp oil for cats because it evokes the entourage effect. This mechanism involves all of the aforementioned compounds working together in synergy to boost CBD’s efficacy.

Although some cat parents are concerned about the trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum CBD hemp oil, these amounts aren’t enough to get your cat high. But at the same time, this extra small dose of THC amplifies the entourage effect.

Full-Spectrum vs Broad-Spectrum Hemp Oil

Broad-spectrum CBD is an alternative option for those pet owners who don’t want to give their furry friends any amount of THC alongside CBD hemp oil.

This broad-spectrum type of CBD is similar to full-spectrum, except for the lack of THC. The intoxicating cannabinoid is removed during fractional distillation that takes place once the raw CBD hemp oil has been extracted.

Benefits of Hemp Oil for Cats

Here are some of the noteworthy benefits of hemp oil for cats:

Reduces Anxiety and Nervousness

Many cats are very reactive to stress, which makes them nervous and anxious in situations that humans deem completely normal.

CBD hemp oil can reduce the symptoms of fear and anxiety in cats by signaling the  ECS to produce more of its natural cannabinoids; it also interacts with serotonin and GABA receptors to calm the nervous system and stabilize mood.

You can give your cat CBD hemp oil if you’re traveling with them (moving homes) or during a fireworks show.

Provides a Wide Range of Essential Nutrients

Aside from its therapeutic effect on cats, hemp oil can be used as part of their diet. The high nutrient content of hemp seed oil can boost your cat’s well-being, improving their overall quality of life.

Just remember that hemp seed oil and CBD hemp oil aren’t the same, so you’ll need to use them separately in your cat’s routine.

Relieves Pain

CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic. When you give hemp oil to your cat, cannabidiol signals your immune system to stop producing pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase the production of the anti-inflammatory ones — leading to a proper immune response.

When it comes to pain reduction, CBD can also mitigate pain signaling from the neurons to the brain by activating TRPV-1 channels. As a result, pain and other kinds of physical discomfort become more manageable, even cat’s pain in the kidneys, joint arthritis, and more.

Eases Digestion Problems

Hemp oil can significantly improve your pet’s digestion. When it comes to hemp seed oil, the gut-healthy fatty acids, and fiber ensure proper bowel movements (peristalsis). CBD oil can further support these processes by regulating gut activity through the endocannabinoid system.

On top of that, CBD can ease nausea and vomiting by acting on certain receptors in the brain which control these sensations.

Is Hemp Oil Safe for Cats?

Perhaps the best thing about hemp oil is that it’s safe for cats.

Hemp seeds are a known superfood that humans and animals have used for millennia due to their nutritional value.

CBD, on the other hand, has been considered safe and well-tolerated in humans and animals, as shown by a 2017 report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

However, since the hemp market is largely unregulated, pet parents should thoroughly research their potential vendors to make sure that their products are pure and safe for consumption.

The Side Effects of Hemp Oil for Cats

Hemp oil is more difficult to dose in cats than humans because cats are several times smaller than us. So, despite its decent safety profile, it can produce a few benign side effects when your cat takes too much.

Some of the possible side effects of hemp oil for cats include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Fluctuation of appetite
  • Diarrhea

There’s also a risk of potential CBD-drug interactions. CBD is a potent inhibitor of the CYP450 system, a group of enzymes that metabolizes the majority of pharmaceutical medications.

Depending on the type of interaction, it may lead to either too high or too low concentrations of the drug in your cat’s bloodstream.

In order to avoid such interactions, consult a holistic veterinarian. A knowledgeable vet will help you set the right dosage and routine for both compounds so these interactions don’t occur.

How to Choose the Best Hemp Oil for Cats

Focused Hemp Oil and Cat in the Background

With so many manufacturers on the market, choosing the best CBD oil for cats can be overwhelming. And considering that the market is unregulated, you might accidentally buy a mislabeled product.

But don’t worry, you can easily weed out poorly manufactured products from high-quality hemp oils by looking at the following parameters:

Organic Hemp Source

Hemp plants are dynamic bioaccumulators, meaning they absorb everything from their environment — including both the good and the bad substances. The best hemp oils for cats are sourced from organic hemp. Such plants are grown in clean, nutrient-rich soil, and without pesticides or herbicides.

Hemp should be pesticide-free because long-term exposure to these toxins may harm your cat’s nervous and immune system. There’s even a risk that pesticides will trigger autoimmune conditions.

Natural Ingredients

Natural ingredients are paramount if you want to get the most out of the benefits of hemp oil for your cat. Some brands add artificial flavorings and other additives to mask the hempy flavor of the oil; others will infuse their products with preservatives to extend their shelf life — all at the cost of the product’s quality. Studies have linked synthetic additives in food to various diseases in humans and animals, including autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, metabolic conditions, and even cancer.

Certificates of Analysis

Third-party testing is especially important when it comes to CBD oils. The CBD market isn’t regulated by the FDA, so manufacturers can put virtually anything in their hemp oils for cats, including contaminated hemp or the aforementioned synthetic additives.

The only way to prove that your product is safe is to look at the Certificate of Analysis. Hemp companies have an option to send samples of their products to an independent laboratory for testing. These labs analyze the chemical makeup of the oil, including CBD potency and purity.

The certificates of analysis should be up-to-date and readily available for customers on the company’s website.

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews and testimonials can give you a gist of real-life experiences from other people. Reputable brands have a lot of positive reviews about the quality of their products and their customer service. Be wary of companies that have little to no online presence, or a lot of negative reviews on third-party websites.

How Much Hemp Oil Should I Give My Cat?

Due to the lack of regulations from the FDA, there are currently no official dosage guidelines or charts for CBD.

Manufacturers of CBD hemp oil usually provide their own dosage recommendations and serving sizes based on different weight groups.

We recommend calculating the right dosage of hemp oil for your cat based on its weight. Start giving the cat about 0.25 mg of CBD per pound of body weight for a regular dose. So, if your cat weighs 10 pounds, you’ll want to measure out 2.5 mg of CBD oil from the bottle.

For a stronger dose, you can use amounts such as 0.5 mg of CBD per pound. In the case of a 10-pound cat, you’ll need to give him 5 mg of CBD for more pronounced effects.

As for the hemp seed oil, consult the dosage with your veterinarian or a pet dietician. Keep in mind that this product is high in fats, so it also carries plenty of calories. Giving your cat too much hemp seed oil can result in unwanted weight gain.

Key Takeaways on Using Hemp Oil for Cats

Although many cat parents are concerned about giving their furry friends cannabis — due to misconceptions about hemp and marijuana being the same thing — hemp oil and other hemp-derived supplements hold great potential to improve feline health.

There are two types of hemp oil — hempseed oil and CBD oil, both of which serve different purposes. Hempseed oil is used mainly for nutrition, while CBD oil regulates different physiological functions in your cat by interacting with its endocannabinoid system. This makes CBD oil more of a therapeutic substance rather than a food item.

Cats can benefit from hemp oil for anxiety, nervousness, physical discomfort, immune dysfunction, nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite. CBD is also a powerful anticonvulsant, making it a useful tool for managing seizures in cats.

If you’re looking for high-quality CBD hemp oil for cats, be sure to choose companies that make their products with organic hemp, use all-natural ingredients, and provide batch-specific lab reports for potency and purity.

Sources:

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Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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