It feels like all eyes are on CBD right now. That’s no surprise when you consider the compound has been vilified alongside cannabis for a long time, despite its potential medical benefits. Now that legislation has caught up with public opinion and scientific consensus, people want to know what CBD can do for them.
But it doesn’t stop there. Dogs and cats are an integral part of some families and CBD users often want to know if they can share the benefits of CBD with their furry friends.
Evidence already shows that CBD affects more than just humans, so it makes sense that our pets can benefit from CBD the same way we can. Vendors have caught on, and CBD products are now available in pet-friendly formulations.
In this guide, we look at the complicated topic of CBD in a straightforward way. We’ll also look at how CBD for pets works and give you our top picks for the best cat CBD on the market.
The Best CBD for Cats: Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Spruce
An excellent pet CBD product that works just as well for cats.
Why We Picked It
Offering just the right mix of quality, value, and performance, Spruce’s Dog CBD oil is an excellent pet CBD. Note that despite the name, this oil is also suitable for cats. You’ll need to adjust the dosage as appropriate for your cat’s weight.
Spruce’s full-spectrum CBD oil is vegan and gluten-free, and contains no additives like flavorings. The CBD is sourced from organic, US-grown hemp. The formulation for this pet-friendly CBD oil is the same as Spruce’s human-formulated CBD with only minor differences. Spruce has swapped out hemp seed oil for coconut oil to make the taste more palatable and to make it easier on your pet’s digestive system.
First-time customers can make use of Spruce’s 30-day return policy if they’re unsatisfied, but only unopened items purchased after this point are eligible for a return.
Keep in Mind
This CBD is unflavored, so fussy cats may not accept the taste even with the addition of coconut oil.
In a Nutshell
- No artificial additives
- Coconut oil for milder taste
Best Value: Medterra
Pet CBD oil offering quality at a reasonable cost.
Why We Picked It
If you’re looking for an affordable, budget-friendly product that doesn’t compromise on quality, then Medterra could be the ideal choice.
Medterra carries a range of products and formulations designed for pets, including three flavors of tincture: unflavored, beef, and chicken. It also sells two different types of chew. Its joint-support chews are peanut butter flavored and contain MSM, glucosamine, and chondroitin to promote healthy joints. Its calming chews contain ingredients like Valerian root and L-Tryptophan.
All of Medterra’s CBD products contain zero percent THC. They’re also non-GMO and derived from US-grown hemp. Independent test results are available on Medterra’s site.
Your purchase with Medterra is covered by its 30-day return policy, which will offer some peace of mind for shoppers on a budget.
Keep in Mind
Medterra carries a range of products but lacks topical options for pets.
In a Nutshell
- Variety of products and flavors
- 30-day return policy
Best Flavors: Honest Paws
A range of flavors from a pet-focused brand.
Why We Picked It
Honest Paws specializes in pet products (if the name didn’t give it away), and the knowledge and variety on offer wins it our Best Flavors category.
Most of Honest Paws’ range is suitable for both cats and dogs, though it does carry a cat-specific CBD oil named Purrity. This particular product is unflavored, so you may want to opt for the flavored options instead.
Honest Paws chews are available in flavors including peanut butter, turmeric, pumpkin spice, and creamy coconut. Other options include the Honest Paws Happy Tails CBD blend, which is a peanut butter spread. Honest Paws Joint Support and Calming Aid chews are perfect for owners looking for specific effects from their CBD purchase.
While most of the brand’s products are marketed for dogs, the company notes that they’re safe for any animal. Just be sure to match dosage with your cat’s weight.
All Honest Paws CBD oil is lab-tested and non-GMO. There’s a 30-day guarantee in place, so you’ll be able to trial your product to see if it yields satisfactory results.
Keep in Mind
Honest Paws carries a diverse range of products, but some shoppers will prefer to keep things simple.
In a Nutshell
- Range of flavors
- Variety of products in different formats and formulations
- 30-day guarantee
Best Organic: NuLeaf Naturals
Organic pet CBD for peace of mind.
Why We Picked It
Non-organic CBD products can contain harmful chemicals like pesticides, which have the potential to negate the benefits of CBD. For owners concerned about this possibility, we’ve chosen NuLeaf Naturals as our pick for Best Organic.
NuLeaf’s Colorado-grown hemp is USDA-certified organic and non-GMO, with independent lab results available from its site. Its full-spectrum oil is extracted by a twofold CO2 extraction process.
Nuleaf’s pet CBD oil is suitable for both cats and dogs, with dosage instructions included on the label. The oil is otherwise identical to the primary NuLeaf range. Customers can choose from 240mg, 725mg, and 1450mg concentrations.
Keep in Mind
This oil is unflavored, so fussy cats may reject it.
In a Nutshell
- Organic and non-GMO
How We Chose the Best CBD for Cats
To choose our top picks, we take a look at a few important categories that tell us a lot about the product.
Here is how we rated the pet CBD oils we looked at:
Formulated for Pets
We left out any CBD products that weren’t specifically formulated for pets. Cats and dogs need different dosages and formulations than humans to account for the differences in metabolic function and body weight. All of our top picks are formulated and marketed for pets.
CBD oil can vary widely in quality thanks to the relative lack of regulatory oversight in the market. That can make finding quality CBD oil tough. We look at the quality of each oil, including where the hemp is grown and whether it’s organic and non-GMO.
We don’t take a brand’s word for it when it comes to the quality of their CBD. Independent lab testing isn’t optional in our estimation, so we expect each brand to have evidence of its third-party lab test results.
CBD oil can be an expensive investment, even when considering its benefits. We evaluate the price of each brand to give you a sense of whether it’s fair for the product and to ensure that it reflects the brand’s quality. This way, you can find the right CBD for your cat without going over budget.
We don’t speak Meow, but cat owners are happy to provide feedback on behalf of their pets. We use this customer feedback to evaluate the brand’s performance in the wild and to highlight any recurring issues. For instance, the product’s taste may make it unsuitable for fussier pets.
What is CBD?
Cannabis is a misunderstood plant even now. Much of the confusion comes from conflating industrial hemp and its many uses with marijuana, the strain of cannabis famous for getting people high.
Hemp contains little THC, which is the compound responsible for this high. It’s much higher in CBD, which is a compound with a much subtler and more beneficial impact on the body.
All legal CBD products are hemp-derived, so they contain only trace amounts of THC.
CBD interacts with the body via the endocannabinoid system, which is a ubiquitous biological system similar to the more familiar nervous system. The endocannabinoid system interacts with a wide range of bodily functions, from pain regulation to mood. Research has shown that CBD can work with this system to ease chronic conditions like arthritis and epilepsy.
CBD oil is available in a range of forms from hundreds of vendors. Some vendors have picked up on the potential for CBD to benefit our pets, and many CBD products now exist that are suitable for cats and dogs.
CBD Benefits for Cats
In humans, cats, dogs, and other mammals, the benefits of CBD appear to stem from its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. This pervasive system regulates a wide variety of the body’s many homeostatic elements.
This means CBD has the potential to offer a variety of benefits, and it may help to relieve some of the following conditions:
Arthritis and Pain
Some research suggests that CBD can improve pain regulation and there are reports that CBD can also help to reduce swelling. Both of these traits can help CBD combat chronic and painful conditions, such as arthritis.
Some cats can be nervous and flighty, particularly if they have suffered from trauma, and this has serious welfare implications. Overcoming trauma in animals is notoriously difficult, but CBD’s ability to promote calmness and dull anxiety could help to blunt the edge of mental conditions. It may also be useful in helping pets through behavioral conditions like separation anxiety.
The endocannabinoid system appears to play a role in mood regulation and many users report success in using CBD to control mood swings and other mood-related disorders. Cats with changeable moods may be able to benefit from CBD. However, it’s also important that owners address the underlying causes of their pet’s behavior.
CBD’s ability to relieve the symptoms of epilepsy has been key to the argument that CBD isn’t “without medical value” (as Schedule I substances are) and therefore its legalization. An epilepsy drug is currently the only FDA-approved CBD medication. Epilepsy isn’t easy to manage in pets, so CBD could help to bring relief to pets and their owners.
When taking any new supplement or giving one to an animal, it’s vital to seek a professional opinion first. Cat owners may self-diagnose their pet while missing underlying issues and people without veterinary experience aren’t able to evaluate a pet’s condition. For that reason, you should never substitute prescribed medication for CBD. You should also consult your vet before combining CBD with other medications.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
Evidence suggests that CBD is safe to use in the short term, though its effects haven’t been studied in detail for cats and dogs. Evidence for CBD’s long-term safety is patchy thanks to CBD’s complex legal history, but CBD’s effects on the body are subtle and side effects tend to be minimal. Humans and pet owners often turn to CBD for a way to tackle chronic conditions without the dramatic side effects associated with some prescription medications.
Cat owners should always read the dosage instructions carefully when administering CBD oil and always choose products designed for pets. As THC can be toxic to cats, you should always choose low-THC products.
Side Effects of CBD Oil
CBD’s effects are usually subtle, in complete contrast to high-inducing THC. Side effects are likewise subtle and rare, though there are a few that are reported by a minority of users.
Some of these side effects include:
- Dry mouth: Some research indicates that CBD may inhibit saliva production via interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which can induce dry mouth. Pet owners will need to watch for potential signs of this, such as excessive drinking or lip licking.
- Digestion issues: CBD can cause diarrhea and other bowel symptoms in a minority of users. As an owner, keep an eye on your cat’s habits so you know if any changes are occurring.
- Appetite: There’s evidence that the “munchies” associated with cannabis may be linked to CBD, which could lead to appetite stimulation in your pet. Look for signs of scavenging behavior and overeating.
- Drowsiness: Certain CBD products are tailored to provide calming effects, but this may be undesirable in other products. If your cat seems lethargic or doesn’t leave the house as much, CBD could be the cause.
Is CBD Legal?
Cannabis and its derivatives have undergone some dramatic legal changes recently, culminating in 2018’s “Farm Bill”, which made hemp products like CBD legally saleable at the federal level. These products contain only tiny amounts of the psychoactive cannabis compound THC.
The Farm Bill shifted hemp out of the DEA’s list of scheduled substances and into the FDA-regulated commercial space.
CBD oil derived from hemp is now available through a range of vendors, though these vendors aren’t legally allowed to make claims about its effectiveness as a supplement. Local laws also vary from state to state, so the federal legality of CBD doesn’t apply in all cases.
If you’re looking for more info, be sure to check out our CBD Oils guide for more details.
How to Give CBD to Your Cat
Giving new foods, supplements, or medications to pets isn’t always easy and cats are often the fussiest of the bunch. You’ll need to know your cat to figure out which method is best for you both. There are a variety of ways to administer a dose of CBD, however, so you should be able to find one to suit your pet. Always be sure to pay attention to the dosage instructions when administering CBD to your pet.
Some common ways you can give CBD to your pet include:
Treats provide a palatable and measured CBD dose, much like gummies for humans. They come in a variety of flavors, usually themed around common pet food or pet treat flavors.
You’ll need to be careful when shopping for treats, as many will be sized for dogs. Having to break down treats before your cat can consume them will make tracking dosage less simple. Instead, opt for cat-specific treats.
Tinctures consist of liquid-form CBD that can be administered in a couple of ways. They can be placed directly into the mouth or dripped into food or drink to mask their taste. The latter will work better with pets who dislike strong flavors or who aren’t likely to cooperate with direct application.
Topical CBD oil is designed for absorption through the skin, so it’s applied locally to the targeted area. This makes it a great choice for directed pain relief (for conditions like arthritis) or for help with skin problems. Topicals can be easier to give to a pet as they don’t involve unpleasant flavors or unfamiliar activities. Be delicate when applying topicals, however, as sensitive areas may provoke a reaction from your pet and make future applications more difficult.
Considerations when Choosing CBD for Your Cat
There are a few more things you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing CBD oil for your cat. Here are some things to consider:
Observant shoppers will have noticed that cats are much smaller than humans, which means it’s important to find a product tailored for pets and to pay attention to the recommended dosages. However, cat owners do have an advantage over dog owners in that cats vary much less by size, so dosages will typically be within a smaller spectrum.
CBD dosage can be tricky at times, as it can vary by product and vendor. For instance, 10 drops of a tincture could equate to two treats or a single capsule of another product. Pay attention to the concentration of the CBD you’re buying. This is usually given in milligrams and you can determine the dosage by multiplying a standard factor by your cat’s weight.
If you’re numbers-averse, be sure to check the simple dosage instructions included with pet-friendly CBD products. These break things down into at-a-glance charts, so you can find your cat’s dosage with ease.
Cats can be notoriously fussy and are often less easy to temp with a treat. This can make giving your cat its CBD dose difficult. Ultimately, this will come down to knowing your cat. Are they open to new flavors? Do they enjoy treats? Answering questions like this will allow you to match the method to your cat.
With a wealth of CBD products available from online retailers and physical stores, it’s not always easy to find trustworthy brands. Evidence of independent testing is one of the easiest ways to sift the serious vendors from the bandwagoners. Third-party lab tests verify the vendor’s claims about their CBD, so be sure to check that the substance has been tested and take a look at the results.
If you’ve found this guide useful, take a look at some of our other in-depth CBD guides: