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Is CBD Safe for Cats? Your Complete Guide

Is CBD Safe for Cats? Your Complete Guide

Reviewed by: Dr. David Tittle,BVetMed, CertVA, GPCert(WVA&CPM), MRCVS

Cats may not be “man’s best friend,” but why does that saying exist anyway? Cats are equally as crucial and meaningful to our lives and deserve just as much love and attention as our canine friends. For example, did you know CBD can be as beneficial for cats as it is for dogs? 

Although they express themselves differently than dogs, cats can suffer from many of the same issues as dogs. If you’ve been wondering, “Is CBD safe for cats?” we’re here to give you all the details you need to make an informed decision for your feline family member. 

What Is CBD?

There are over 500 chemical substances found in the hemp plant, with more than 100 of those substances earning the title of cannabinoid — chemical substances with the ability to interact with cannabinoid (and other) receptors inside the body. While that may sound complicated, you’ve likely heard of some of these cannabinoids by name — CBD, CBG, CBN, THC, etc.

So, what exactly is CBD? To start, CBD is short for cannabidiol. While it is also a cannabinoid like THC (the shortened “nickname” for tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is considered non-psychoactive (meaning your cat won’t feel altered or “high” when they ingest it). 

Scientists previously believed CBD worked by influencing two specific receptors in the body — CB1 and CB2 — which are part of the larger endocannabinoid system. However, now that there has been far more scientific research on how CBD (and other cannabinoids) works, we’ve come to understand that there is much more to it than just those two receptors. 

For example, instead of CB1 and CB2, other, far more diverse receptors are involved throughout the body. This research and what we’ve learned from it has drastically shifted how we can safely use these products to help our furry friends.

Related to CBD is CBDA, its acidic precursor. Although there are obvious similarities, the most significant difference between the two cannabinoids is the receptors that they can influence. 

Instead of being as wide-ranging as CBD, CBDA specifically targets the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, which are responsible for mood and physiological symptoms like nausea and vomiting. CBDA is also absorbed exceptionally well by cats, as well as its direct effect, some is then metabolized to CBD, where it then exerts an effect making it an even more effective cannabinoid for our feline family members.

Together, CBD and CBDA work seamlessly to tackle a wide variety of symptoms — helping to support pets of all shapes and sizes as they encounter some of the trickier parts of life, like pain (especially from osteoarthritis) and anxiety. It’s not a “cure,” but it can help manage some symptoms (especially when combined with other treatment options).

Is CBD Safe for Cats?

Cats and dogs are different on every level, so many self-identify as either a “cat person” or a “dog person.” However, besides their very obvious personality differences, there are also plenty of factors that make them different on a physiological level. 

For instance, although they may be the size of a small dog, cats and dogs metabolize very differently. That means cats will process many of the same medications and supplements that dogs take at a different rate — which is why you can’t always give them the same drugs and not at the same dose. 

Some of the pain and comfort products that dogs can safely take can even be lethal for cats, which means that the options for relief are far more limited for our feline friends. But is CBD safe for cats?

Because safe cat products seem so hard to come by, doing separate safety studies on dogs and cats was non-negotiable for us. We wanted to ensure that our CBD + CBDA products are just as safe for cats as they are for dogs while also figuring out the safest, most effective dose. 

The results of those studies lead to our status as a CBD + CBDA company with products that have been proven safe for cats on a long-term basis — which is an honor that is hard to come by, and we intend to continue living up to.

Does CBD Have Side Effects? 

Anything our furry family members take can have side effects, but luckily, with CBD + CBDA, those side effects are usually rare, temporary, and benign. When people talk about the adverse effects of CBD for cats, they mostly refer to excessive sleepiness or gastrointestinal issues (especially diarrhea). 

However, through our rigorous safety testing, we found that there were minimal side effects noted in cats and dogs— but our studies were performed just on our own CBD products, not CBD as a whole. 

On some occasions, CBD + CBDA can also interact with other medications or supplements your cat may be taking and cause those products to be processed or metabolized at an increased or decreased rate. To maintain optimal pet health while maximizing the health benefits of CBD, discuss starting any new CBD products with your veterinarian before just going for it. It’s the safest way to go about it, and we know your cat is worth it. 

How Do I Choose CBD for My Cat?

No one is a better advocate for their cat than you are — so doing your research on what to look for when choosing CBD for your cat is crucial before making the leap. What are the benefits that you’re looking to obtain for your cat? What are you worried about? 

Stick with reputable scientific sites to increase the odds that you’ll be getting accurate advice from people who know what they’re talking about. In addition to doing your research, we always recommend you consult with your veterinarian before starting on any new over-the-counter product (especially if your cat has any pre-existing health condition or takes any medications). 

But it’s not just about CBD as a whole. There are also a few things to look for in a pet CBD company that can help ensure that they can be trusted with your cat’s health and quality of life. 

  • Transparency – If your CBD + CBDA products don’t have an easy-to-access certificate of analysis (COA), you won’t know what you’re giving your family member. COAs use third-party lab testing to publicly state the number of cannabinoids and terpenes in a product and any potential contaminants like heavy metals. That way, you can be sure you’re giving your cat the best CBD oil (or CBD treats). 
  • The quality of cannabis plants and where they’re grown – At ElleVet, we think it’s best to start at the very beginning. How can you trust that you’re spending your money on a high-quality CBD oil or chew if you don’t know where the hemp came from? Choosing a CBD company that goes the extra mile and grows their own hemp is an excellent first step — it shows they care enough to control every step of the product. 
  • Safety studies and clinical trials – Safe cat products can be hard to find, so cat owners shouldn’t assume the product is safe. Look for companies that have published, commissioned, and even led the way on safety studies and clinical trials, helping to confirm their product’s effectiveness and overall safety. 
  • Cat-specific dosing – Finding a quality CBD + CBDA product is crucial, but making sure the company has researched cat-specific dosing and published it clearly on their labels. The amount of CBD needed is much different for a cat than for a dog, so you want to be sure you’re giving your cat the right amount. Equally important is making sure that the product comes with a dosing device that works for your pet — especially if you’re using a liquid form (like CBD oil for cats).
  • The amount of CBDA in the product – As we mentioned, CBDA is more biologically available for cats to absorb, so it helps to ensure any product you buy for your cat has at least 50% of it. Check the label or the COA to see exactly what is in your CBD product, and look for those higher CBDA levels to maximize your cat’s benefits.


Is CBD safe for cats? The answer is yes — not only is it safe, but it can also be especially beneficial when used together with CBDA. However, not all CBD is created equal. 

Take the time to research the company you plan to purchase from, verify with your veterinarian that CBD + CBDA won’t interfere with any of their current medications or health conditions, and follow the recommendations for how much and how often to give the product to your cat. These factors can make a considerable difference in your cat’s response. 

For CBD you can trust, with the safety studies and clinical trials to back it up, ElleVet always has your cat’s best interests at heart. 


Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know | NCCIH

An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System | PubMed

Chapter 72 – The Role of 5-HT1A Receptor, and Nausea and Vomiting Relief by Cannabidiol (CBD), Cannabidiolic Acid (CBDA), and Cannabigerol (CBG) | Science Direct

Single-Dose Pharmacokinetics and Preliminary Safety Assessment with Use of CBD-Rich Hemp Nutraceutical in Healthy Dogs and Cats