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Is CBD Safe for Cats?

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The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill has caused an explosion of CBD products for both humans and their four-legged companions. Many are touting countless benefits of CBD, including relief from anxiety, joint pain, and seizures. We are even starting to see CBD studies12 in companion animals to bolster support for its usage. You may have tried CBD products for yourself or your dog, but what about for our feline friends? As the saying goes, we should never assume that we can treat cats like they are just small dogs. So, is CBD safe for cats too?

What Are The Benefits of CBD for Cats?

Although there is currently a lack of clinical research looking into the likely numerous benefits of CBD for cats, many anecdotal reports from owners are promising. Cat owners are using CBD to treat similar conditions seen in dogs. The calming effects and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD make it a great option for cats with stress, anxiety, joint pain, cancer, cognitive dysfunction, and seizures.

Initial studies in dogs show promising results for arthritis, but we are still awaiting clinical trials in cats. If you’re thinking about adding CBD (or any other supplement) to your cat’s wellness routine, talk to your veterinarian before assuming it’s feline friendly. Your vet will be able to advise whether starting CBD is safe for your cat depending on their age and health status.

What Are The Side Effects of CBD in Cats?

When it comes to CBD safety for cats, there are initial studies34 showing that in healthy cats, CBD oil is well tolerated and safe. The most common side effects, like most supplements, are gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhea. Luckily, these are usually mild and self-limiting in most cases. Other commonly reported side effects include sedation, incoordination, and lethargy.

Like dogs, CBD can cause increases in some liver enzymes5 which makes it especially important to monitor organ function by doing regular blood work for pets that take CBD on a long-term basis. Since CBD is still a bit of an unknown territory in cats, don’t assume it’s safe to use if your cat has an underlying health condition, like kidney or liver disease. This is where consulting with your vet will be very helpful to make sure your cat is safe to receive a CBD supplement.

How Much CBD Should I Give My Cat?

Cats have been shown to have some differences in absorption and metabolism of CBD compared to dogs.6 Overall, dogs tend to do better at absorbing CBD which means we still don’t know the perfect dose for maximal CBD absorption in cats. A good starting point is about 1 milligram of CBD per 1 lb of your cat’s bodyweight.

Be sure to check your specific CBD product label for the most accurate dosing recommendations based on your cat’s bodyweight. If your cat has a history of being sensitive to medications or supplements, it’s best to start out with a lower dose of CBD first and increase slowly, as long as your cat seems to be tolerating it well.

Can I Give My Cat CBD Oil For Humans?

Although CBD oil for humans and CBD oil for cats may seem quite similar, it’s always safest to use a product that is specifically labeled safe for cat use. CBD oil for us might differ from CBD oil from cats in ways such as different (and potentially cat toxic) additive ingredients or a higher concentration strength of the oil.7 You don’t want to end up at the ER vet for accidentally giving your cat something toxic or a CBD oil that is too strong for their much smaller bodies.

If you have any doubt about the CBD product you’re giving your cat, ask your vet before starting in order to minimize potential issues. When choosing a CBD product for your cat, always look for products that have undergone third-party lab testing to make sure what’s on the label matches what’s in the bottle, and that no harmful contaminants were detected. The amount of CBD products on the market can be overwhelming, so if you’re searching for vet-approved CBD products, check out our post on the Best CBD Products for Cats*.

Is CBD Safe for Cats?

Overall, CBD oil is considered safe for healthy cats. There are numerous reported health benefits of CBD in humans and dogs, but we are still awaiting more clinical research for its use in cats. Interestingly, there is discussion about how feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome shows similarities to Alzheimer’s disease in humans and how CBD may alleviate symptoms of both conditions.

Anecdotal reports from cat owners are also very promising that CBD oil may help cats with anxiety, joint pain, cognitive dysfunction, and seizures. With starting any new supplement for your cat, always check with your vet beforehand to minimize the chance of any serious side effects. If you’re seeing great results and want to give your cat CBD long-term, talk to your vet about monitoring regular blood work to make sure everything checks out.

Article Sources

Pets Digest uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, et al. Pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of cannabidiol treatment in osteoarthritic dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2018;5:165. doi:10.3389/fvets.2018.00165
  2. Verrico CD, Wesson S, Konduri V, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of daily cannabidiol for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis pain. Pain. 2020;161(9):2191-2202. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001896
  3. Deabold KA, Schwark WS, Wolf L, Wakshlag JJ. Single-dose pharmacokinetics and preliminary safety assessment with use of CBD-rich hemp nutraceutical in healthy dogs and cats. Animals (Basel). 2019;9(10):832. doi:10.3390/ani9100832
  4. Kulpa JE, Paulionis LJ, Eglit GM, Vaughn DM. Safety and tolerability of escalating cannabinoid doses in healthy cats. J Feline Med Surg. 2021;23(12):1162-1175. doi:10.1177/1098612X211004215
  5. McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Kogan LR, Hellyer PW. A report of adverse effects associated with the administration of cannabidiol in healthy dogs. J Am Holist Vet Med Assoc. 2018;52:34-38.
  6. Capuzzi J. Study evaluates adverse effects of CBD in dogs and cats. Published September 30, 2020. Accessed August 5, 2022.
  7. Regehr T, Brutlag A. Alphabet soup: a Q&A about CBD. Accessed August 5, 2022.
Dr. Danielle Morosco
Dr. Danielle Morosco
Dr. Danielle Morosco, DVM is a Consulting Veterinarian in Clinical Toxicology and experienced small animal emergency veterinarian. She graduated with Honors from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. She loves spending time with her furry family members, composed of 2 rescue dogs and 3 cats.