Hemp Oil for Cats: What Are the Benefits & How Does It Work?
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.
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:
- 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?
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.
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
- Fluctuation of appetite
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
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 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 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.
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- De Gregorio, D., McLaughlin, R. J., Posa, L., Ochoa-Sanchez, R., Enns, J., Lopez-Canul, M., Aboud, M., Maione, S., Comai, S., & Gobbi, G. (2019). Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain, 160(1), 136–150. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386 
- Bakas, T., van Nieuwenhuijzen, P. S., Devenish, S. O., McGregor, I. S., Arnold, J. C., & Chebib, M. (2017). The direct actions of cannabidiol and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol at GABAAreceptors. Pharmacological research, 119, 358–370. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2017.02.022 
- Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9010021 
- Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928 
- Izzo, A. A., & Coutts, A. A. (2005). Cannabinoids and the digestive tract. Handbook of experimental pharmacology, (168), 573–598. https://doi.org/10.1007/3-540-26573-2_19 
- Parker, L. A., Rock, E. M., & Limebeer, C. L. (2011). Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1411–1422. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x 
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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Cbd oil for cats how to use
Although talk of CBD has been around the use for humans and dogs, cats are just as much a part of our family – so that brings up a big question: Can CBD help them live their best lives, too? There are a lot of reasons to think the answer may be yes.
HOW DOES CBD WORK?
All animals have an endocannabinoid system, and it plays a big role in keeping them healthy. The body produces endocannabinoids, substances much like the cannabinoids found in cannabis. These travel the bloodstream and attach to cells throughout the body to deliver messages and instructions that tell it what’s going on and how to react. Almost every bodily process is affected by these endocannabinoids.
That’s how CBD works. It takes the place of these endocannabinoids. When they aren’t delivering the instructions we need them to, or when the system is under more stress than normal, then CBD can help bring everything back to a state of homeostasis.
HOW DOES CBD OIL FOR CATS WORK?
Cats have an endocannabinoid system, too. So it’s hardly a stretch to think that CBD can help them with things like anxiety, stress, inflammation, and pain in the same way we’re finding out it helps the rest of us . And we do see and hear lots of anecdotal evidence to back up the idea—from stories about unpettable cats turning in snugglebugs to reports of arthritic felines getting their mojo back.
Still, we can’t say for 100% sure because there just isn’t any long-term studies (yet!) to confirm our suspicions. We do know that CBD appears to be as safe for cats as it is for dogs . One project found large doses could cause side effects but said THC contamination was probably to blame. That same study also found that CBD was absorbed and eliminated differently in cats than it was in pups, which may mean modifying our doses for cats.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CBD OIL FOR CATS?
CBD’s main claim to fame is it’s ability to decrease inflammation and thus decrease chronic pain in mammals. Researchers at Cornell University fount that CBD oil is great at treating pain because they taret a receptor called the ‘villanoid receptor’ and prevent it from turing on.
CBD is also an excellent neuroprotector which makes it great at treating neurological disorders like seizures and epilepsy.
Other ways in which CBD can benefit cats is by helping with their:
- Seizures/ Epilepsy
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Urinary Tract
- Overall Wellness
WHICH CBD OIL?
CBD oil for cats usually comes mixed with a few other ingredients to help make it more palatable and nutritious. Often times human or dog CBD is mixed with coconut oil. Unfortunately, cats can’t process the healthy fatty acids found in plants like coconuts (that’s because they’re carnivores.
So look for CBD oils containing sardine oil instead, like Austin and Kat’s Purrfect Feline Formula. And if you must use a coconut oil-based CBD, make sure you get a concentrated one so your furry friend isn’t ingesting too much.
HOW MUCH CBD SHOULD I GIVE?
We recommend giving a dose of 2-4 mg of CBD per 10 pounds for cats to start. This is twice the amount we recommend for dogs, but don’t fret. Cat’s don’t have as many cannabinoid receptors as dogs so they need twice the amount to see the same effects. For cats with cancer or seizures, start with 4-6mg of CBD per 10 pounds.
The more difficult the condition, the more CBD you’ll need. But start small and go up until your furry feline is feeling happier and calmer. A little less, or even a little more oil won’t do any harm. Dosing can easily remain approximate until you’re able to find what works best for your cat.
Charlie, or Char-Char, for example, is a lazy 25-pound orange tabby cat. He would have a starting serving of 5mg of CBD and can increase to 10mg if 4mg is not enough for him.
Just remember – It takes about 15-45 minutes to reach full-effect in your pet’s system and lasts for about 4 – 6 hours, depending on breed, ailments, activity level, and their own personal chemistry.
CBD Oil for Cats: What You Need to Know
As cat owners look for ways to keep their kitties happy and healthy, they’re starting to explore alternative treatments not previously considered by Western medicine. Among these alternative treatments is cannabis oil.
This isn’t much of a surprise, considering that more people are turning to cannabis as a natural treatment for their health issues and research studies have consistently shown the plant’s positive impact on inflammation and other ailments. However, as studied as cannabis’s effect on humans may be, there have been no official major scientific studies into its impact on pets.
So, is cannabis safe for cats? And what sorts of ailments might it treat?
What Is CBD Oil?
Cannabis plants contain more than 100 active compounds, but the one most often used for medicinal purposes is cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD differs from cannabis’s major active compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in that it does not have a psychoactive affect, meaning it will not get users “high.” CBD oils contain a high concentration of CBD and can be used for therapeutic purposes.
“There are not many classical medical studies that explore the effects of CBD oil in cats,” says Dr. Daniel Inman, a veterinarian at Burlington Emergency Veterinary Specialists in Williston, Vermont. “While we don’t recommend CBD oil for our patients, holistic veterinarians are using it to treat a variety of ailments, including inflammation, anxiety and pain.”
Inman is careful to specify that CBD oil is often used to subjectively increase comfort and improve quality of life in pets, not necessarily cure ailments. This type of treatment should be advised by your veterinarian and not initiated without their consent.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
Although there have been no scientific studies that specifically investigate the impact of cannabis on pets, Dr. Gary Richter, a holistic veterinarian and owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital and Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, says that CBD oil is generally safe for cats. However, there can be some adverse effects to giving your cat CBD oil, including gastrointestinal upset and some sedation, both of which can be relieved by discontinuing the use of the oil.
“I think the bigger issue, from a medical perspective, is making sure that animals are dosed appropriately. This means that the CBD oil is having the affect you want it to have, and that you’re not accidentally overdosing,” he says.
Dr. Liza Guess, a clinical assistant professor at the Ohio State University Department of Veterinary Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, says that the lack of official, documented research into the affects of cannabis products for cats would make her hesitant to recommend them.
“I have heard that, in humans, marijuana products can be used for neuropathic pain, intractable seizures, anxiety, and appetite stimulation. I have plenty of medications in each of those categories [that are not cannabis] that have been safely used in cats for years that I am very comfortable using and understand well,” she says. “These medications have gone through rigorous studies and are approved by the FDA. Why would I want to use a poorly understood treatment that I can’t guarantee is safe or even effective?”
She adds that the FDA does not regulate the CBD products that are available on the market, so consumers can’t be sure that they’re giving their pets the dosage that they think they are.
“Pet owners looking to give their animals CBD oil should do their due diligence before purchasing anything online,” Richter says. “The marketplace is very much a ‘buyer beware’ environment, and people should be sure that the product they’re buying has been laboratory tested for both content, as well as contaminants like bacteria, fungus, and heavy metals.”
Also, it’s worth nothing that while CBD oil is typically quite safe for cats and dogs, cannabis plants are not. “There is plenty of documentation of marijuana toxicity in cats, for those that nibble on the plants,” Guess says.
Inman adds that as an ER veterinarian, he often sees marijuana toxicity in the animals that come into his practice. “You can usually tell if a pet has gotten into someone’s marijuana. And, in more severe instances, I have had to hospitalize animals until the affects have worn off.”
Is CBD Oil Legal?
Regardless of how well CBD products work for cats, there is also the issue of legality. If a cannabis product contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it’s classified as “hemp,” which is not a restricted substance. Most, if not all, CBD oil fits this description. The bigger issue is discussing this course of treatment with your veterinarian.
“In a perfect world, your veterinarian would be able to discuss this treatment as an option for your pet, but depending on where you live, your veterinarian may or may not be legally at liberty to have this conversation with you,” Richter says. “Even if you live in a state where cannabis is legal, it can be illegal for a veterinarian to tell a pet owner how to appropriately use these products.”
There are activists looking to change these laws, Richter among them.
“For example, there’s a bill being brought to the California State Legislature to debate the use of medical cannabis for animals and veterinarian involvement,” he says. “There’s a very robust conversation going on right now about it whether or not veterinarians should be able to discuss and recommend cannabis for their patients, and, if so, exactly what that looks like.”
Being able to discuss all types of treatments with your veterinarian is key, and Richter advises checking in with your vet before giving your pet any sort of cannabis. “There’s no reason to ever start giving any kind of medication or supplement without having a conversation with your veterinarian first,” he says.