Cannabis For Cats

Your cat can keep calm and carry on with CBD, the cannabis that helps—with­out the high.

Modern Cat - - Contents - BY JANE MUNDY

Your cat can keep calm and carry on with CBD, the cannabis that helps—with­out the high.

Stephanie Roach’s kit­ten was born with brain dam­age and suf­fered seizures— un­til Stephanie started giv­ing her hemp­based cannabid­iol, known as CBD. Kather­ine Ann Howe’s 22-year old Si­amese cat was crip­pled by arthri­tis. Since giv­ing him CBD oil he is jump­ing on and off the bed with­out help. His mood is also bet­ter, which she cred­its to the re­duc­tion of pain. “CBD has been a sav­ing grace for our sweet old fella,” says Kather­ine. “I don't know how much longer he'll be around, but his qual­ity of life has im­proved greatly.”

CBD is hot right now, but hu­mans have been us­ing it for over 8,000 years. Peo­ple are pre­scribed med­i­cal mar­i­juana to sup­port the treat­ment of a host of ail­ments and ill­nesses, in­clud­ing skin ir­ri­ta­tions and can­cer. So, if hu­mans are helped by a par­tic­u­lar med­i­ca­tion that is nat­u­ral and safe, it makes sense that we won­der if it could help our ail­ing pets.


Dr. Kather­ine Kramer, a ve­teri­nar­ian at Van­cou­ver An­i­mal Well­ness Clinic, is not legally al­lowed (as per the Col­lege of Vet­eri­nar­i­ans of B.C.) to pre­scribe or even rec­om­mend CBD, un­less she is specif­i­cally asked about it. “I should wear a but­ton that says ‘Ask me about CBD,’ Kramer says

“CBD has been a sav­ing grace for our sweet old fella… his qual­ity of life has im­proved greatly.”

with a chuckle. She wel­comes this op­por­tu­nity to in­crease aware­ness be­cause for the past six years, her clients’ re­sults are “noth­ing short of mir­a­cles.” Kramer’s prac­tice fo­cuses on geri­atric and can­cer pa­tients, so she knows first­hand how CBD helps with pain and arthri­tis, with nau­sea, seizures, and anx­i­ety.

“Some cats, be­fore tak­ing CBD, had such hor­ri­ble be­hav­iour prob­lems, and in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment anx­i­ety can go through the roof,” says Kramer, “but soon after tak­ing it own­ers tell me they ‘have their cat back.’ And pets with can­cer have been able to get their qual­ity of life back.”

If you told Dr. Kramer six years ago that she would “dis­cuss” med­i­cal mar­i­juana with her clients, she wouldn’t be­lieve you. She had the ‘aha mo­ment’ when a client, who worked with hu­man pa­tients treated with med­i­cal mar­i­juana, sug­gested that his cat also try cannabis. “His cat had mul­ti­ple health is­sues; pre­scribed opi­oids were knock­ing him out and af­fect­ing his ap­petite so he had noth­ing to lose. He was will­ing to try CBD so we worked out the dosage and in no time the cat im­proved; his ap­petite and en­ergy came back and we re­duced the con­ven­tional med­i­ca­tions,” adds Dr. Kramer. “He lived a few more qual­ity years after that. And I started look­ing at more wor­ri­some cases.”

A few years ago Dr. Kramer would get a call about CBD about once a month; now her clinic is tak­ing calls from vets and clients across North Amer­ica. In a nut­shell, this is her ad­vice: #1 Talk to your vet about any­thing you are think­ing about try­ing; your vet also needs to get ed­u­cated about these prod­ucts. If enough pet own­ers ask, it will force the vet com­mu­nity to take fur­ther ac­tion. #2 It’s im­por­tant to use a qual­ity-con­trolled prod­uct. Be care­ful about the prod­ucts you use as they could be laced with THC (more about that at left) or maybe there’s not enough CBD in it to be ef­fec­tive. The FDA re­cently found that 90 per­cent of prod­ucts they tested had lit­tle or no CBD or it didn’t match la­bel in­gre­di­ents. Ask the sup­plier for a cer­tifi­cate of anal­y­sis. # 3 Re­gard­ing dosage, the cur­rent catch phrase is “Start low, go slow.” And the rule of thumb .5 mg per lb of body weight. (e.g., 5 mg per 10 lbs) so a lit­tle goes a long way. Dr. Kramer thinks that CBD’s ther­a­peu­tic po­ten­tial is enor­mous, but there’s the le­gal­ity is­sue, mainly due to in­suf­fi­cient clin­i­cal tri­als. “I’m hope­ful that with more re­search and stud­ies the le­gal bar­ri­ers will fall,” she says, “and then we will be al­lowed to pre­scribe CBDs.”

(Although the Amer­i­can Holis­tic Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion of­fi­cially en­cour­ages re­search into the safety, dos­ing and uses of cannabis in an­i­mals, the Amer­i­can Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion has not yet con­doned the use of med­i­cal mar­i­juana and re­lated prod­ucts with an­i­mals.)


CBD is short for cannabid­iol, one of more than 60 nonpsy­choac­tive com­pounds found in both hemp and cannabis (aka pot) plants. It cre­ates ben­e­fi­cial phys­i­cal changes to the­body’s en­do­cannabi­noid sys­tem—known to af­fect bod­ily pro­cesses such as di­ges­tion, mood, and sleep.

En­do­cannabi­noids are the chem­i­cal mes­sen­gers that tell your body to get these pro­cesses mov­ing and when to stop; they help main­tain op­ti­mal bal­ance in the body, also known as home­osta­sis. When the body does not pro­duce enough en­do­cannabi­noids or can­not reg­u­late them prop­erly, you are more sus­cep­ti­ble to ill­nesses. CBD is known to have anti-anx­i­ety, an­ti­con­vul­sive, antin­au­sea, anti-in­flam­ma­tory, and an­ti­tu­mor prop­er­ties.


In British Co­lum­bia CBD is avail­able in pet stores and ev­ery cor­ner dis­pen­sary, and the rest of Canada is catch­ing up. Start­ing Oc­to­ber 17, 2018, Cana­di­ans will legally be able to use recre­ational mar­i­juana, but it may take longer for Cana­dian pets to get their paws on cannabis de­rived treat­ments. Good news is that Health Canada re­cently ap­proved a clin­i­cal trial to re­search the use of cannabid­iol (CBD) to treat an­i­mal anx­i­ety.

In the U.S., if you are in a hemp-le­gal state, you can or­der on­line. CBD afi­ciona­dos, re­gard­less of which state or prov­ince they live in, seem largely un­con­cerned with le­gal reper­cus­sions, as pu­n­ish­ment for pro­cure­ment has thus far proven un­likely.

To give you some idea of pet cannabis con­sump­tion in the US, sales of cannabis prod­ucts mar­keted for pets at med­i­cal and adult-use cannabis dis­pen­saries in 2017 to­taled nearly $7 mil­lion in Cal­i­for­nia, Colorado, Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton, ac­cord­ing to BDS An­a­lyt­ics. In Colorado, sales of CBD pet prod­ucts grew al­most 50 per­cent in 2017.


In British Co­lum­bia (and soon all of Canada) CBD is avail­able in pet stores and ev­ery cor­ner dis­pen­sary. In the U.S., if you are in a hemp-le­gal state, you can or­der on­line from a rep­utable com­pany like Seat­tle-based Kat and Austin. Owner Kat Donatello says that most of her clients use CBD for pain man­age­ment and anx­i­ety. Her prod­ucts, in­clud­ing CBD laced with salmon oil for cats, are sold in about 400 pet stores na­tion­wide, re­hab clin­ics and ve­teri­nar­ian of­fices. Her dog Austin was a puppy when she gave him CBD for anx­i­ety. “He was like a kid with ADHD and CBD al­lowed him to fo­cus on train­ing,” she says. “These days he has CBD for aches after a long run. And the day will come when it will be used for end-of-life care—it is a relief to know Austin will en­joy his fi­nal days with fam­ily.”

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