When looking for solutions to calm cats with anxiety, a commonly-asked question is if CBD oil is effective. This FAQ will help answer these questions in detail. CBD for Cats’ Anxiety | What to Consider Many animals experience it too, and your furry feline is no exception. In essence, anxiety is the anticipation of danger or a threat and is a perfectly
FAQ: Can CBD Oil Help Calm Cats with Situational Anxiety?
Did you know that cats can experience situational anxiety?
The truth is, though, animals of all sorts can have different personalities, and those personalities can include proclivities towards certain attitudes, including situational anxiety and stress. If you use CBD oil to help manage your own anxiety you may have at some point wondered: Can CBD oil help calm cats with situational anxiety?
Unfortunately, while humans have plenty of medications and therapy techniques available to handle stress, very little is available for our kitties.
When you have a scaredy cat , like I do, you have to find ways to cope and help them cope, to give them the best life possible.
In this post I go into great detail to discuss situational anxiety in catswhile answering an important question about CBD oil for pets: Can CBD oil help calm cats with situational anxiety?
From often overlooked symptoms to causes of situational anxiety to how to help with it. I also share my own journey with my own scaredy cat and how I use CBD oilto manage her own situational stress and anxiety.
If you are interested in learning more about CBD for pets, my blog is packed with resources . I have written extensively about it. So, make sure not to skip the read further section at the bottom.
Table of Contents
What Are the Symptoms of Situational Anxiety in Cats?
Before you can determine whether or not to formally address your cat’s situational anxiety, you first need to know whether or not your cat actually has it. There are many symptoms and behaviors your fur baby can exhibit that may or may not be part of it.
- Mild: Avoiding eye contact.
- Mild: Shifting body or head away from you.
- Mild: Holding their tail close to their body.
- Mild: Nervous flicking of the tail.
- Mild: Partially dilated pupils.
- Moderate: Ears tilted to the sides.
- Moderate: Further dilation of the pupils.
- Moderate: Faster than normal breathing.
- Moderate: Fixed staring at a source of stimulus.
- Moderate: Crouching and leaning away.
- Severe: Attempting to escape a situation.
- Severe: Freezing in place.
- Severe: Holding ears back.
- Severe: Fur standing up straight.
- Severe: Aggression.
You’ve likely seen many of these behaviors as part of regular play, but there’s a difference between play and stress.
Situational anxiety is tense, cautious, and fearful, while play is more rambunctious and energetic.
Cats in a stressed state may also growl, yowl, or make warning noises, particularly if the source of their stress approaches them.
What Causes Situational Anxiety in Cats?
There are several primary causes of situational anxiety in felines, and it can manifest in different ways.
These triggers include:
- Pain, illness, or injury. Cats in distress often display signs of nervousness. Cats are notorious for hiding pain and sickness since it makes them feel vulnerable, which is why many cat parents worry when their cat displays outright symptoms of uneasiness; they may also indicate a much deeper and more concerning ailment.
- Trauma. Fear and apprehension are common responses to trauma. Trauma can be fresh and new, or it can be an older trauma your cat remembers (from their time as a kitten or in a prior household as in the example of a rescued adult cat). It’s actually rather similar to PTSD in humans.
- Poor socialization. Cats tend to be very flexible in their behaviors when they are young, but solidify in their responses as they age. This means that cats that are not properly socialized as kittens may develop situational anxiety responses to otherwise common stimuli, including boisterous people or loud environments. Anyone who has adopted a stray or a rescue that hides when something changes in the environment will recognize this source of situational anxiety.
There’s also the case of separation anxiety. Many cats are social creatures, and if they bond closely to you as their parent, they may grow anxious when they are left on their own for too long.
Some cats that are raised in a home and are later abandoned can also develop this form of situational anxiety.
Can You Help Relieve Situational Anxiety in Cats?
Above, we mentioned that situational anxiety in cats doesn’t have as much research or study into it as anxiety in humans. While this is true, that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do about it.
Some potential alternatives include:
- Environmental management. If your cat experiences situational anxiety when the environment changes, minimizing that change can help.
- Antidepressants. Depression and anxiety are very similar in both humans and animals, so medications for depression can also help relieve situational anxiety. Some antidepressants are long-term medications you have to administer every day; others are meant for short-term treatment during a move or major shift, or can be used preemptively for traumatic events like the 4th of July fireworks. You should speak to your veterinarian in more detail if you think your cat needs medical intervention.
- Behavioral modification. While complex, certain kinds of therapy such as exposure/desensitization training and counter conditioning can be effective, when applied consistently. Be prepared for this method to take time. Whatever the modification is, it should be done slowly and not forced upon your kitty. Forcing a behavior will only exacerbate the problem.
Unfortunately, for many pet parents these aren’t always the ideal options. You may not want to medicate your fur baby, or sometimes they may have a bad reaction to medications in general.
They may also be difficult to train so managing their triggers may not work. Additionally, some pet parents may prefer a more holistic approach to help their fur babies.
Using CBD to Manage Situational Anxiety in Cats
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical found in the hemp plant. It is distinct from the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana, which is broadly illegal. CBD is non-psychoactive and not defined as a controlled substance, making it both legal and useful.
CBD is relatively unstudied in both humans and animals, but many studies are currently being conducted.
These studies are part of a push to both legalize THC products, and to study the long-term benefits of both THC and CBD. Fortunately, there’s preliminary evidence to suggest that CBD has two major benefits for both humans and animals.
- Pain relief. CBD may have the ability to dull pain, particularly the pain that comes from inflammation and joint issues.
- Calming situational anxiety. While CBD is not psychoactive, it may have the ability to reduce situational anxiety and help promote a calmer demeanor.
It’s worth reiterating that, as of now, there is no firm evidence of these benefits that has been acknowledged by regulatory bodies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A lot more studies need to be conducted before these compounds can be proven as effective.
You may have some questions before deciding to try CBD with your scaredy fur baby. We understand, and we’ll do our best to answer.
Will CBD make my cat high?
No! CBD is not psychoactive at all.
That said, you want to make sure you get products that are 100% CBD diluted in a carrier oil for example MCT coconut oil. Some CBD tinctures include a very small percentage of THC (less than 0.3%), these are known as full spectrum CBD oils.
Others will contain zero THC, which are commonly known as broad spectrum CBD oils. In either case, as long as the CBD is extracted from the hemp plant (also known as hemp extracts), these products are not only federally legal but also have no psychoactive properties.
Keep in mind that you should look for CBD oils with a certificate analysis showing its purity and level of CBD contents. We’ll discuss this in more detail below.
Are there side effects to CBD use?
CBD oil is not toxic or dangerous in high doses, but it can still potentially cause some rare side effects.
The side effects from excessively large doses include:
- Excess licking.
- Head shaking (possibly due to dizziness or nausea).
- Excess salivation.
One study performed on both dogs and cats found that cats tend to absorb or eliminate CBD more quickly evidenced by their lower serum values.
This suggests any potential side effects will be shorter in duration for cats than dogs. This study also indicates that CBD has more frequent adverse effects in cats than in dogs.
It’s worth bearing in mind that this is just one preliminary study and does not fully represent all cats, across different methods of administering CBD, and across different issues like situational anxiety and pain management.
CBD is generally considered safe in that your cat is not at risk of being permanently harmed from taking it or taking too much of it. If your furry friend experiences negative side effects, it’s generally easy to spot, and you can discontinue the use of CBD oil immediately, with no further harm done.
Whenever beginning CBD with your kitty, you should err on the low end of the quantity recommended for administration. Then, over time you can slowly increase the dose until desired effects are observed.
Are CBD products illegal or approved?
Marijuana products are legal at the state level in certain states, but are currently illegal at the federal level. However, CBD products are not marijuana products. They are hemp products, and hemp products have been deemed fully legal since 2018.
While it has been legal to purchase for several years, the FDA has not analyzed, processed, or approved any CBD products.
The only exception is one medication that treats a specific type of seizures in humans. Significant testing must be performed for approval. As such, CBD is classified as a nutraceutical,and is not approved or meant for the treatment of any disorder, ailment, or disease.
Are CBD products regulated?
As mentioned, the FDA – the primary organization responsible for validating and approving medications for both humans and animals – has not yet approved any CBD products for use in animals.
Here’s a quote directly from the FDA:
“FDA recognizes the potential opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds may offer and acknowledges the significant interest in these possibilities. However, FDA is aware that some companies are marketing products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and that may put the health and safety of consumers at risk.” – FDA.gov
That said, there are a range of third-party organizations and laboratories that have established themselves to test and verify the chemistry and efficacy of CBD products.
It’s important to verify the products you consider purchasing, as well as the veracity and authority of the organizations that certify it.
In general, just make sure you trust the product and the seller when you buy it, and only consider products that come with third-party testing or COA (Certificate of Analysis) that ensures the quality of the products you purchase.
CBD products aren’t cheap, so if you’re going to spend the money, it’s worth checking that what you think you’re getting is actually in that bottle by reviewing the lab analysis.
A CBD product without a lab analysis could contain contaminates such as heavy metals or solvents. And even if there is no contamination the claimed amount of CBD can vary greatly from one batch to another so the strength in a bottle may not be correct.
How long would it take for CBD to work for my cat?
In many cases, CBD will start to take effect within 15-30 minutes of administration. This does, however, depend on the size of the dose and the size of your fur baby. For more serious issues you’ll need to allow 2-4 weeks of regular use.
While there is no consensus on dosing as CBD tinctures come in different concentrations, it’s generally recommended that you administer CBD based on the weight of your feline.
A small cat may need much less compared to a larger chonker. Given that CBD products come in different concentrations, be sure to follow the instructions on the product you purchase.
Additionally, the quantity of CBD can be adjusted depending on your fur baby’s reaction, so as we mentioned earlier start on the low end and then work your way up.
How long will the effects of CBD last?
Some experts suggest CBD remains in a cat’s system for around 4 to 6 hours.is eliminated relatively quickly from cats.
However, this depends on several factors, including:
- Your fur baby’s age.
- Their personal brain chemistry.
- Their weight and activity levels.
- Their breed.
- What response you’re looking for.
Just like us humans, every cat is different so it’s important to observe your fur baby carefully to ensure no adverse reactions are happening.
What should I look for in a good feline CBD tincture?
Buying anything your cat consumes orally or via dermal absorption should never be taken lightly. I can not emphasize enough that this is a serious endeavor where your #1 priority should always be safety of ingredients.
Unfortunately the unregulated nature of many segments of the pet products industry has made it very dangerous for unsuspecting pet parents to buy almost anything for their fur children.
I constantly write extensively on the topic of safety of ingredients and raw materials to help pet parents make educated purchases that reduce the risks to their beloved fur babies. Despite the general lack of regulations in cbd products, you can look for a few key qualities in a good CBD product for your cat.
Look for USDA-certified organic products. The USDA regulates hemp producers, and as such, will regulate many sources of CBD, though not all. Among other benefits, certified organic products are non-GMO as well as pesticide and heavy metals free.
There are several ways in which you can find out if your pet products are made in Asia and the manufacturer is falsely claiming made in the USA or some cleaver variation of this phrase.
One simple way is by running what we like to call the 3liv3v3 test (replace the “3” symbol for the letter “a” and the “v” for a “b” when looking up this website).
For those of you not familiar with this website, it is basically where 90% + of products come from on the largest eCommerce site in the USA. Go on 3liv3v3 and run a search for pet hemp oil .
You will be surprised or should we say terrified? to find many of the most popular commercially available products there. Perhaps even the one you are using right now. The horrifying thing is that many of these brands label their products as “handcrafted in the USA” or even “made in the USA”.
And, of course, no matter what you buy, watch your kitty to see how they react. The last thing you want is to stimulate their situational anxiety even further by giving them something that causes an adverse reaction, however rare it may be.
Should You Invest in Feline CBD?
At the end of the day, the biggest question is simple: should you pick up a CBD product to try to calm down your kitty, or should you stick with more traditional approaches, behavioral training, and trigger monitoring?
The answer depends a lot on you and your cat’s issues and triggers. Some cats have triggers that are easily avoidable or behaviors that can be easily minimized. Others take well to medications.
Some have situational anxiety that seems intractable and impossible to handle. Hemp Extracts with CBD are an option you can explore, particularly if other options are ineffective or difficult to maintain. At the very least, it’s unlikely to be harmful if you want to give it a try.
My Experience Helping my Old Scaredy Cat with CBD Oil
From one pet parent to another, I thought I’d share my experience thus far using CBD with my 17-year-old kitty Sosa.
She’s always been your stereo typical scaredy cat and as she’s gotten older and become the only furry household member, her separation anxiety has worsened.
Sosa also has both kidney disease and heart disease, and her appetite has been waning for some time now. I spoke with my veterinarian a few months back and she green-lighted trying CBD.
Our goals with starting CBD were three-fold:
- Increase her consistency with eating,
- Reduce the separation anxiety she experiences at night when Meowmy and Pawpi go to sleep behind a closed door (she knows to blame Pawpi for his cat allergies), and
- Help reduce inflammation that causes her to periodically limp.
It’s been just over two weeks now and there has already been an improvement in her eating. Anyone with a geriatric kitty knows keeping weight on can be an uphill battle, so I was immediately pleased. I’m considering this one a win.
As for her limping, it has stopped. I can’t help but wonder did the CBD reduce her inflammation? Is this just a span of good days for her? The jury is still out on this one, but she is going up and down the stairs with more pep in her step.
Now on to her situational and separation anxiety. This one is absolutely a more chronic issue since she’s had it since a kitten. On some nights we’ve noticed less crying, but it hasn’t been consistent.
We’re slowly stepping up her dose and monitoring her for any changes. She has a vet appointment next month (Jan 2022), so it’ll be interesting to see how she does in the car and at the vet as compared to pre-CBD administration.
To our cat parent readers: have you tried using CBD for your furry friend? What were your experiences like? Did everything go as you thought it would, or did anything unexpected occur? What about those of you who haven’t given it a go yet? Would you consider doing so now? Be sure to leave all your thoughts and stories in the comments section down below!
Interested in learning more about CBD for dogs and cats? We’ve written extensively about this topic.
Read More CBD for Pets Guides
One more thing, if you are feeling like getting a little special something for your fur baby that is unique, made right here in the USA (or anywhere but in China), 100% pup and cat safe, USDA certified organic and brought to you by a US company, check out Toe Beans online pet supplies store!
K Marie Alto
K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer, and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 30K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-).
CBD for Cats’ Anxiety | What to Consider
Many animals experience it too, and your furry feline is no exception. In essence, anxiety is the anticipation of danger or a threat and is a perfectly normal response.
However, if you’ve ever had a cat with anxiety, it can feel far from normal. Cat anxiety caused by illness, trauma, or improper socialization can be most severe. However, even milder anxiety due to a new home, a new member of the family, or late-age adoption, is something you can treat.
While there are myriad ways to address anxiety, many cat owners have turned to a plant compound we’ve all heard of by now: CBD. Made up of cannabidiol, the active ingredient found in hemp, it has a calming effect.
But don’t be alarmed; CBD, unlike THC, will not get your cat high. Instead, this cannabinoid is used to treat a wide range of conditions including seizures, arthritis, and chronic pain. Older cats who develop dementia, also known as cognitive dysfunction, may also benefit from CBD oil. But if you’re curious about trying CBD for cats’ anxiety, read on.
What Is CBD Oil for Cats?
Most CBD products are essentially the same. Usually, they consist of pure cannabidiol in a suspension with a generic oil to dilute the effects. They come in various strengths. CBD oil marketed to cat owners is blended with cats in mind, featuring a less concentrated dose, and blended with nutritious omega-3-rich fish oils that cats crave. Sometimes, CBD oil for cats is even flavored especially for your cat’s senses.
Does CBD oil help cats with anxiety?
Research lags behind the rise of CBD oil’s widespread availability—and that’s for humans. Research on the use of CBD products for cats in general, let alone for anxiety, is preliminary. Before scientists can link CBD oil to specific outcomes, early studies must attempt to discover its general mechanisms in the brain.
Like their human counterparts, felines have receptors throughout their nervous system that respond to cannabinoids, lending holistic benefits to their cats and relief to their human companions. This system is called the endocannabinoid system. The fact that these receptors aren’t limited to the brain may account for CBD oil’s many benefits.
Many pet owners and veterinarians alike are not content to wait for all the research to trickle in. After all, there is little to no evidence of harmful outcomes. Anecdotally, many vets and pet owners insist that CBD oil has been effective for cats with anxiety, citing cases where major symptoms abated in a rather short time. It is likely that its benefits have to do with the way it interacts with neurotransmitters affecting fear and moods, and the endocannabinoid system.
Studies have also shown CBD oil’s effectiveness for insomnia in humans, which may be promising for cats with anxiety, and especially helpful if they also experience trouble sleeping.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
There is little to no evidence that CBD oil is harmful to humans nor pets. Notably, in 2018, the FDA approved a cannabis-derived medicine for children with epilepsy. That should say something about its safety for felines. And recent studies have come to the conclusion that it is safe for cats and dogs.
Side Effects of CBD Oil in Cats
In a recent study published in Animals, the most common side effects in order are as follows:
- Head shaking
However, these side effects should be noted within context. Firstly, “licking” and “pacing” are behaviors that cannot be distinguished from ordinary feline behavior. Secondly, “head shaking” was often noted as the CBD product was administered directly to their mouths rather than observed afterward. Finally, no significant change in blood chemistry values was reported during the study period.
That said, always monitor your cat whenever introducing medicines or supplements to their system. And if you do notice these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.
How to Administer CBD for Cats with Anxiety
If you’re wondering how to give your cat CBD products, here are 5 different tips.
1. Ease In
As cats are small creatures, err on the side of caution and increase the dose gradually. A good starting point is 0.25 milligrams of CBD oil for every pound of body weight.
2. Mix it in Their Food
Use the dropper included with all CBD oil and fill it to the prescribed dose. Mix it in with your cat’s favorite food. Wet food works best here.
3. Apply Directly
If you’d like to try giving CBD oil to your cat directly, that is perfectly acceptable. In fact, if you’re trying to maximize its effects, CBD oil administered this way will enter their system faster. It is safe to give your cat CBD products on an empty stomach, but refer to tip one and begin by easing in. Bear in mind that most felines will not enjoy the process. However, mixing the oil with tuna juice or using a flavored oil can make this process a breeze.
4. Keep It Consistent
While your cat may only need CBD occasionally, some veterinarians believe consistency matters, especially for chronic issues. Additionally, splitting the dose between morning and evening will spread its benefits throughout the day.
5. Anticipate Your Cat’s Anxiety
If you’re aware of your cat’s triggers and can predict a potentially stressful situation, you can plan ahead by giving your cat CBD oil thirty minutes ahead of time. This is helpful if, for example, there’s a second cat you’re introducing to the home and you let it roam the common areas at a certain time of day.
CBD for Anxious Cats: FAQs
Should I use CBD or hemp oil with my cat? What’s the difference?
While hemp oil is perfectly safe for cats with its own profile of benefits, it usually only contains trace amounts of CBD.
While hemp oil is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds, CBD oil is made by extracting the compound from hemp leaves, flowers, and stalks.
How much CBD should I give my cat?
If you’ve decided to try CBD to treat your cat’s anxiety, you may be wondering how to dose it. While there are no federal standard guidelines, we advise you find a trusted producer and follow label guidelines, beginning at the lower end and working your way up to the recommended dose over a week or so.
On average across the industry, cats with anxiety are recommended 0.25 milligrams mg of CBD per pound of body weight per day, but this can vary by age and condition. Effects can range from 4 to 8 hours and the dose can be split into smaller doses throughout the day.
Will CBD get my cat high?
No. The psychoactive component of cannabidiol is THC. It’s a different cannabinoid than CBD. While CBD oil does affect the nervous system, it does not cause the cognitive changes, such as euphoria or hallucinations, that THC does. But do vet your CBD brand and make sure that it’s certified THC-free.
How do I find the best CBD oil for cats?
That’s a great question, and we devoted an entire article to it! In short, seek out cat-specific brands that vets trust. The oil should be full-spectrum and 100% THC-free. And might we recommend our own non-GMO organic CBD oil?
Pro tip: Our peppermint organic CBD oil is delicious for humans, but peppermint oil can be harmful to cats. Stick with our first recommendation for safety’s sake!
More Natural Ways to Calm a Cat with Anxiety
CBD is not the only way to calm cat anxiety. In fact, her CBD dose is best used in conjunction with other methods and devices. For starters, cat owners should never punish an anxious cat as it will only make things worse. Do try comforting your cat while being mindful of its need for space. Comforting doesn’t have to mean coddling or picking up your cat but instead using a soothing voice or giving it a gentle rub. It may sound crazy but even squinting at your cat from a distance can help signal that everything’s under control! But certainly don’t stare.
1. Try Pheromones
That’s right! You can actually find cat calming collars and diffusers that emit a scent reminiscent of the pheromones a mother cat uses to soothe her kittens.
2. Try Calming Cat Food and Treats
Did you know that there are actually anti-anxiety cat formulas and cat treats? These formulas often contain tryptophan—a safe compound found in turkey that accounts for that Thanksgiving slumbers, and it works on cats too. Speaking of diet, you can consult our guide to the best grain-free cat foods here.
3. Variety is the Spice of Life
While an anxious cat certainly needs a quiet, stable home environment, sometimes the missing ingredient is fun, believe it or not! When was the last time you intentionally played with your kitty? Have you tried out different toys or different times of the day? Included in our cat bundle is both catnip to get the party started as well as freeze-dried minnows (can you say yum?) to reward your cat when the fun is done!
4. Keep Your House in Order
Cats, probably more so than dogs, are sensitive to their environment. Anything from clutter to messes to major changes in layout can stress a cat out. A cat prone to anxiety will benefit from the Marie Kondo treatment! And as cat whisperer, Jackson Galaxy emphasizes, giving your cat clear access to a clean litter box makes a world of difference.
5. Give your Cat a Perch
Does your cat have any high ground from which to survey her queendom? You may be surprised how much that can help an anxious cat. It’s no secret how much cats enjoy the high ground, so even a cat tree can help. Bonus points for a comfy top to nap on. If you’re feeling more ambitious, installing high shelves with stepped access will give your cat the distance from the din it desires.
We Know That’s A Lot of Information
But we hope that this article armed you with the knowledge and know-how to treat your cat’s anxiety. As always, consult with your veterinarian before starting any home remedies.
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