CBD Oil for Cats: What Is It and Is It Safe?

CBD oil for cats can be used to alleviate problems like anxiety and chronic pain and may help them lead healthier happier lives. Find out about its safety, benefits, and side effects and learn tips on finding the right CBD product for your cat.

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You may have seen a plethora of supplements cropping up at pet stores, and on websites selling CBD products, and wondered if they have any value to your cat. The market for pet CBD products has taken off exponentially over the past few years. According to the Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research company, the pet CBD category grew 946 percent in 2019 alone. The reason behind this prolific expansion was due to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill law, which removed hemp and derivatives of cannabis with low (0.3 percent) concentrations of THC (the psychoactive compound) from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). With such a wide variety of products available, no wonder it’s confusing to find the best one for your cat.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about how CBD oil can help your cat.

What is CBD oil?

“CBD (hemp) is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant,” says Jamie Richardson, BVetMed, Chief of Staff at Small Door Veterinary in New York City. According to Dr. Richardson, the cannabinoids in hemp interact with the endocannabinoid system in animals, positively impacting different functions. “The endocannabinoid system contains cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body in animals and in humans. When cannabinoids engage with these receptor sites, different functions are affected, including pain sensation, mood, appetite, the immune system, and more.”

“Unlike what many people believe, CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC),” states Sara Ochoa, DVM and Veterinary Consultant for Doglab. “THC is the compound found in marijuana responsible for the euphoric state. In recent years CBD has been explored for potential medical uses with success in both human and veterinary medicine.” Curious to learn more? Here are 13 facts about CBD you need to know.

CBD for Pets Infographic with sections about What is CBD?, Types of CBD for Pets, and Potential Benefits of CBDEmma Kumer/rd.com

Benefits of CBD for cats

Though the benefits of cannabidiol have been largely studied in humans, there isn’t any research-based proof of the effectiveness of CBD for cats. However, according to Dr. Richardson, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting benefits for pets, and many studies are currently in progress.

CBD can be used to address a number of health conditions in cats, including anxiety, stress, seizure disorders, and chronic pain, he says, cautioning, “We recommend you always talk to your veterinarian before giving your pet any CBD products.” Here are 13 silent signs your “healthy” cat is actually sick.

Learn more about how CBD may help calm your pet’s anxiety, manage pain and more with expert advice inside our book, The Essential Guide to CBD.

How to administer CBD to cats

CBD oil for cats comes in the form of tinctures, capsules, and treats. The remedy takes a few days or weeks to start showing any effects.

“CBD oil can be added to their food, given with a dropper, or even [given] as a treat. It is usually a once- to twice-a-day supplement,” says Dr. Ochoa. “Some cats are picky and will not want to take the CBD oils, as they can taste bad. I always recommend giving cats CBD treats to help with the taste.” Follow the dosage recommended on the package (usually dependent on the pet’s weight), starting off slowly and working your way up to the full dosage, Dr. Ochoa suggests. Find out how to give a cat a pill—and actually get your cat to swallow it.

Potential side effects

The side effects of CBD on cats have not been well researched; therefore, the list of adverse effects is not comprehensive. That said, according to Dr. Richardson, “most of the side effects observed in pets have been minimal. Tiredness, soft stool, and some changes in appetite have been observed occasionally”.

In addition, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while there have been reports of pets accidentally consuming cannabis, the agency “has not directly received any reports of adverse events associated with animals given cannabis products.”

In the event your pet experiences any side effects, stop giving the CBD supplement immediately and consult your veterinarian.

Finding safe CBD oil products for cats

Despite the easing up of legal restrictions for CBD, the FDA has not approved any CBD products for animals, which means veterinarians aren’t legally allowed to recommend them. However, pet parents can ensure safe use by researching the products and carefully reading the recommended dosage.

There are a number of CBD products for pets on the market, but the lack of any oversight has led to low-quality tinctures and treats. At Small Door Vet, Dr. Richardson recommends “choosing products/brands that have been involved with scientific research, go through rigorous quality control measures, and provide thorough information on dosages and ingredient lists.” Dr. Ochoa suggests Holistapet’s Salmon-Flavored CBD Cat Treats. “I have used them on my cat. He is a very picky eater and loves these treats.” Next, read on to learn about CBD for dogs.


  • Jamie Richardson, BVetMed, Chief of Staff at Small Door Veterinary in New York City
  • Sara Ochoa, DVM and Veterinary Consultant for Doglab

Lavanya Sunkara
Lavanya Sunkara is a NYC-based writer covering travel with a focus on sustainability and conservation. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Architectural Digest, Cruise Critic, Fodor's Travel, Forbes, and USA Today among many others.