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CBD For Cats Is Trending But Is It Safe?

Philip Ghezelbash

CBD for cats may help reduce anxiety, pain, and inflammation. What do the studies say?

Cannabis can have a range of benefits, from reducing anxiety to helping decrease pain levels. But,did you know that even your cat may benefit from cannabis? CBD for cats may be veterinarian medicine of the future.

With the popularity and range of cannabis products today, it might not come as a surprise that cannabis products are starting to target pets. From horses to dogs to cats it seems that every animal, whether pet or otherwise, has a cannabis option. But, will this really work for our feline friends?

Most pet-focused cannabis products contain CBD as the active component. This is important since CBD, unlike the other main cannabinoid, THC, does not have an intoxicating effect. THC activates and binds to cannabinoid receptors, such as CB1 and CB2, which then initiate the effects of cannabinoids. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t directly act on either of these cannabinoid receptors. Instead it modulates receptor pathways and acts on other non-cannabinoid receptors to induce its effects. 

Will CBD Work for Cats?

While there are no direct studies on CBD and cats, research has investigated CBD’s therapeutic effects in a range of human, mammal, and in vitro studies. Researchers learned about cannabinoid receptors in mammalian brains as early as 1990, which indicates the presence of an endocannabinoid system in mammals.

Importantly, one study from 2017 found CB1 receptors in the ovary and oviduct of cats. This indicates that cannabinoids may play a role in feline health. It also indicates the presence of an endocannabinoid system. Research also shows that the effects of biologically active substances are relatively constant across mammals.

CBD for cats

Effects You Might Expect CBD to Have on Your Cat

Issues such as anxiety, pain, and inflammation are all common symptoms seen in cats that could possibly benefit from CBD treatment. 

Anxiety and CBD 

You may not realize this, but anxiety is a very common issue in cats. It often manifests as destructive behavior like furniture scratching, neediness, and excessive meowing. Studies have shown CBD to improve anxiety and stress levels. It may, therefore, be able to provide some relief to cats suffering from anxiety. 

One study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2010, found that CBD demonstrated an antidepressant-like effect that was comparable to pharmacological antidepressants. Further research has shown CBD’s ability to reduce anxiety levels, improve cognitive impairment, and improve mood. 

One of the ways CBD may be able to induce these effects is by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is a nerve cell chemical associated with improving mood and regulating anxiety levels. Research shows CBD to immediately increase neurotransmitter levels (such as serotonin) in mice by activating the 5-HT1A receptor to initiate serotonin production. 

Research has also shown CBD to induce plastic changes. This optimizes the brain’s neural networks and its ability to change. CBD is thought to help neuroplasticity by reducing the decrease of hippocampal neural cell production and reducing the density decrease of the synaptic input-receiving dendrite spines induced by chronic stress. This creates a healthier cognitive environment that can better manage stress and other external factors. 

Inflammation and CBD 

Inflammation is another common symptom that can negatively affect cats, whether from disease, old age, or injury. This can cause pain and can have a serious impact on a cat’s quality of life. CBD has demonstrated an ability to reduce inflammation levels in human and rodent models and may therefore treat the same in cats.

One mouse study published in 2012, found that CBD may reduce inflammation through its action on specific glycine receptors. CBD enhanced the expression of ? GlyR in the study, a glycine receptor that mediates glycinergic cannabinoid-induced suppression of inflammation. 

Pain and CBD 

Pain is a symptom that no pet owner wishes to see in their fur-baby. But CBD might hold some potential in this area of treatment for animals, too. 

CBD has shown a lot of promise as a pain reliever. One study published in 2018 in The Journal of Headache and Pain showed that CBD may reduce pain levels through activation of the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. By activating 5-HT1A CBD may induce a cellular cascade and inhibitory response that results in the reduction of pain perception. 

How Safe is CBD for Cats?

While the research into CBD’s therapeutic effects is positive, it’s important to remember that there aren’t any direct studies investigating how CBD affects cats. However, research investigating CBD on dogs is positive. Researchers have concluded that CBD at 10mg/kg and 20mg/kg doses daily for six weeks resulted in no adverse effects and was “tolerable and measurable.”

One thing to keep in mind is that CBD can inhibit certain cytochrome P450 enzymes, specifically CYP450 2C19, which can result in reduced metabolism of certain medications. Cats also express the CYP450 2C19 enzyme, and so the metabolism of other medications could be a concern.

So what to do? Well, the first thing is to speak to your vet. And if you choose to test this therapy out, the rules are the same for felines as for humans. Start low, and go slow.

Philip Ghezelbash

Philip Ghezelbash is an ex-personal trainer with a science background who currently operates New Zealand's only health specialized writing studio. He is passionate about presenting complex science in an easy to digest manner and is a firm believer that cannabis has substantial potential to be used as a medicine for degenerative disease.

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