It seems like CBD oil is everywhere these days. Almost every counter I stop at has a display of some CBD-infused product claiming wonderful benefits and pretty much everyone I know has tried it. Myself, and my cat, included.
Is CBD oil really the wonder supplement that people say it is? How does it affect cats and other animals? And, specifically, is CBD oil good for cats with cancer? Read on to find out everything you need to know about CBD for cats.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a supplement made from the hemp or cannabis plant. CBD stands for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is one of the 113 identified compounds (cannabinoids) in the cannabis plant. When ingested, CBD has a relaxing effect on the mind and body, but without the high that is commonly associated with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). It also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and helps to relieve pain.
How Is CBD Oil Made?
CBD oil is made in a two-step process. The first step is to extract the pure CBD from the stems and leaves of the cannabis plant by one of three methods:
- High temperature oil extraction: the stems and leaves are cooked in a carrier oil to extract the CBD. This is the easiest method and can even be done at home, but it typically results in a less than pure product.
- Low temperature CO2 extraction: instead of heating the plant, it is cooled with condensed carbon dioxide. This method requires more advanced equipment, but does yield a very pure result.
- Ethanol extraction: the hemp plant is soaked in ethanol instead of oil. This is a very effective method, both in terms of cost and product purity, and as such it is used by more and more commercial CBD companies. However, it is very important that they use a food-grade ethanol, because non-food-grade ethanol is highly poisonous. If you buy CBD oil and it gives off an alcohol or gasoline type of smell, do not use it!
After extraction, you are left with a thick, oily and black substance. The next step is to dilute and mix this pure CBD paste with carrier oil (usually olive oil or salmon oil for cats) and optional flavorings to make it suitable for consumption. The percentages you see on bottles of CBD oil (2%, 5%, etc.) indicate how much CBD it actually contains.
Does CBD Oil Really Work?
The cannabis plant still has a lot of stigma and legal uncertainty attached to it, which is why it is difficult for scientists to get funding for research into its medicinal properties. But even though there currently is no high-quality clinical evidence of the effectiveness of CBD for any human condition, the anecdotal evidence is definitely there.
CBD users claim it helps them control anxiety, keep a clear mind, manage chronic pain, and much more. It has even helped some of them to replace heavier, prescription medication they’ve been on for years. And with about 33% of Americans having used it at least once, CBD oil is quickly becoming a commonly used supplement.
Research on the effects of CBD on animals is even less prevalent and mostly focused on dogs. However, many cat owners have tried CBD on their cats and the anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive. Cats with mobility problems, kidney disease, digestive issues and more serious illnesses like FIV and cancer all seem to do a lot better on CBD.
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Is CBD Oil Legal?
Different countries, and states within those countries, have different laws surrounding cannabis and its derived products, which includes CBD oil. In the US, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still classifies it as a schedule 1 substance. It is considered to be highly addictive and not accepted for medical use. At a federal level, at least.
Luckily, more and more people are waking up to the fact that cannabis is not the devil it has so long been made out to be. CBD is not addictive and actually has some very potent qualities. In fact, in 2018 the FDA approved a CBD-based drug called Epidiolex as a treatment for pediatric epilepsy.
Currently, there are 36 US states that allow the medicinal use of cannabis, and 18 that also allow recreational use. In those states you are essentially free to buy and use CBD oil, although you will strictly still be in violation of federal laws. If you are considering buying CBD oil, be sure to check your local laws before purchasing. And if you are shopping online, double check that your CBD oil contains less than 0.3% THC, which is the federal limit for legally shipping CBD oil across the US.
Is It Safe To Give My Cat CBD Oil?
Yes, according to veterinarians, CBD is perfectly safe for cats. Your cat might experience an upset stomach or drowsiness if you give them too much, but this is easily solved by lowering the dose.
As with most medications, regular and prolonged CBD use might cause liver damage. The best way to mitigate this is to start slow with a low dose and never give your cat more than needed. Take your cat to the vet for a routine liver test every once in a while to check their health.
All of that aside, a word of warning is needed. CBD oil is not subject to any regulatory oversight, meaning literally anyone can make and sell it. Because of this, there are a lot of inferior, and sometimes even harmful, CBD products on the market. If you decide to try CBD oil for yourself or your pets, always do your due diligence and make sure you check that it is third party tested and that the batch you buy has passed the tests.
What Does CBD Oil Do To Cats?
The effects of CBD oil on cats seem to be very similar to those on humans. They get more relaxed, less anxious and happier. And that’s just their mental state.
Cats also seem to get a lot of physical benefits from CBD. Its pain relieving properties help senior and arthritic cats be more mobile and give ailing cats in general a better quality of life. Its anti-inflammatory properties help keep pets healthy and off prescription drugs for longer. And check out this cat with cerebral hypoplasia reaching his goals thanks to a little CBD oil.
Similar to humans, cats can experience side effects when using CBD. It is definitely not for everybody. Unfortunately, cats can’t tell us if something is wrong, but you know your own cat’s normal behavior. If you notice them being more anxious, nauseous, withdrawn or extremely drowsy after giving them CBD, it probably doesn’t agree with them. Either lower the dose, or stop giving it to them entirely.
Is CBD Oil Good For Cats With Cancer?
Cats with cancer see a great improvement in their quality of life when given CBD oil. They experience less pain and inflammation, smoother digestion and an increase in appetite. All of this contributes to their overall health, both physically and mentally. Cats are emotional creatures and being in good spirits will literally help them live longer.
Although they tend to deal with it better than we do, radiation and chemotherapy treatments can leave a cat with cancer feeling miserable and lethargic for days. A few drops of CBD oil will help to settle their stomach, prevent secondary infections and let them sleep more peacefully while they recover.
On top of that, research shows that CBD has the ability to eliminate cancer cells, thereby inhibiting tumor growth and potentially inducing a shrinking of the tumor. It even helps to prevent tumors from spreading further throughout the body.
All in all, CBD oil is a powerful tool to have when you are caring for a cat with cancer. Seeing your beloved pet waste away in front of your eyes can leave you feeling completely helpless. CBD oil is a way for you to gain back some of that control and make the most of the time you have left with them.
The Best CBD Oil For Cats With Cancer
Check out this guide on the Best CBD Products For Cats to find out exactly what you need to look for when buying CBD for your cat, including our top product recommendations.