Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT 

Cannabis and Kitties

The market is exploding with cannabis products and I get questions about cannabis for pets on a daily basis. My last post was all about cannabis for dogs and this post is dedicated to our feline friends. I wanted to give them their own post because so often cats are treated like small dogs. In this post I am going to give you an overview of what cannabis is and how it may help.

Cannabis, CBD & THC

Cannabis sativa is a general plant name. There are many different strains of this plant. Some strains make the federally illegal marijuana and some others make hemp for industrial use. In general, cannabis plants contain both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). These are both medicinal compounds. CBD cannot cause a ‘high’ and THC is the psychoactive component that will cause a ‘high’.

Products made with less than 0.3% THC are legal in all 50 states. These are the products I use and recommend in my practice.

Marijuana is currently legal in a few states including Colorado. As a result, I frequently see pet guardians sharing their CBD products with their pets. Unfortunately dogs have many, many more THC receptors in their brains and toxicity is more likely when consuming moderate to high levels of THC. Cats are thought to have a similar sensitivity to THC as humans. For this reason, we see less marijuana toxicity in cats.

CBD can be protective against some of the negative side effects of THC. Many dispensaries will describe their products in terms of a ratio of CBD to THC. While THC has many therapeutic properties, legislation to make it legal and research to find therapeutic doses for pets is needed.

To keep the content of this post practical and legal, we will focus on products that contain high amounts of CBD and less than 0.3% THC. Even though I practice veterinary medicine in Colorado (a state in which marijuana is legal), I hold a DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) license at the federal level. Therefore, I keep my recommendations in line with the federal law.

What’s so Great about CBD Anyway?

Using cannabis as medicine is not new. We are not the first civilization that has used this plant for it’s medicinal purposes. What’s great about modern technology and medical research is that we now have the resources to harness the medicinal properties of cannabis and to innovate pure products.

While there is emerging research on the use of cannabis for dogs and cats, much of what we know today is anecdotal or extrapolated from human medicine. Anecdotal evidence is mainly composed of individual reports. For example, a dog or cat might have accidentally ingested some medical marijuana and the guardian noticed a resolution of symptoms. Maybe after consuming the cannabis, the pet was able to jump on the bed again or was more playful.

CBD in particular is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties, promotes an overall sense of well being and may lessen seizures.

Below are Some Conditions that CBD may be Helpful for in Kitties:

1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

This is frustratingly common in cats. CBD may have a place alongside other therapies to help reduce
inflammation and therefore symptoms. Cats with IBD may vomit, have diarrhea or may lose weight. To learn more about why cats vomit click here. I generally use diet and herbs to help control IBD symptoms in kitties.

2. Pancreatitis

Many cats with IBD also have pancreatitis. Like IBD it can be frustrating to treat. I use a low fat diet, herbal remedies, and digestive enzymes to help control inflammation of the pancreas. If you decide to use CBD to help control pancreatic inflammation, start with the capsules instead of the oil preparation.

3. Arthritis

Cats that suffer from arthritis need all the help they can get. Unfortunately many painful cats suffer because we don’t have great pharmaceutical options to control pain like we have for dogs. Because cats tend to be reclusive and don’t travel as readily, they are less likely to get treatment for their aches and pains. I generally try to manage these kitties with fish oil, massage, laser, acupuncture and CBD.

4. Cancer

This is a popular use for CBD in both animals and people. There are many reports of longer survival times with better quality of life for both people and animals with cancer. Unfortunately, we don’t have any great studies that prove how or why this happens. This will change.

5. Asthma

Like all of the disease listed above, asthma is a common inflammatory disease of cats. Some cats have very minor symptoms that need little to no medical interventions. Other cats require life long treatment by inhaler. CBD may be a great option to help these kitties have less inflammation and therefore less asthma attacks. It is important that you never stop medications your kitty is taking before speaking with your veterinarian. If your cat needs an inhaler to breathe, don’t substitute CBD oil for their daily inhaled medications.

What Products Should I Use?

If you live in a state that has legalized marijuana, you are probably inundated with products made for pets. Be skeptical of all products until you can get a GA or Guaranteed Analysis of the product. You want to know exactly what is in the product you are giving to your cat. 

Are There Any Side Effects?

This is a great question and something you should always consider for any medication or supplement you are giving your kitty. Yes, there can be side effects. Some animals can become sedate on CBD products. CBD can promote relaxation and some animals are more sensitive than others. If you notice your cat has become too sedate, stop giving the product and work with your veterinarian. Allergic reactions are always possible. Some cats that are allergic to grass can also be allergic to cannabis. This is rare but is a possibility.

Remember to work with your veterinarian when deciding on a treatment plan for your cat. If you would like to work with a holistic or integrative veterinarian check out these sites to find one:

www.ivas.org
www.tcvm.com
www.ahvma.org

As always, I want to hear from you! Please find me on Facebook or send me an email at angie@boulderholisticvet.com.


I’m Dr. Angie Krause, and my goal is to improve the health and longevity of dogs and cats with holistic medicine. My mission is to empower pet owners to become medical advocates for their pets. I love educating people to help make better life and medical choices for their
animals. I believe strongly in the body’s innate ability to heal. I am a Western trained veterinarian who incorporates many modalities in my practice. I have a love for Traditional Chinese Medicine and Physical Medicine for cats and dogs. I use acupuncture, herbal formulas, laser therapy, myofascial release, homotoxicology, physical therapy, diet, pharmaceuticals and surgery to help bring balance and health. Basically, I use what works.

My practice is full of compassion for people and pets from all walks of life. I respect and honor a diverse set of philosophies concerning the care of cats and dogs. I provide my clients with information and support their decisions.

I currently have a house call practice in Boulder County and provide as much information online as time allows. I would love to help you and your animal in any way I can!

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