Weed and Cats: Is Marijuana Bad For Your Cat?

Posted: March 1, 2022 by Anita

weed and cats
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It seems like everyone is smoking weed these days. Or consuming edibles infused with weed. And it’s not a big deal like it use to be use when I was growing up.

Weed (marijuana) has gone from an undercover drug that folks partook of secretly to the more culturally acceptable cannabis; a “genus of medicinal, recreational and fiber plant(s) belonging to the Cannabaceae” (from Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “cannabis”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 7 Jan. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/plant/cannabis-plant. Accessed 28 February 2022).

In the last decade, Marijuana has become legal in 13 states in America and decriminalized in another 13. And the FDA has approved a couple of medications that contain forms of cannabis for certain treatments for humans. In Canada, weed has been legal since 2018.

What does our usage of marijuana have to do with our cats?

As the popularity and usage of marijuana has increased in humans, so has the number of cats ending up at the vet due to marijauana intoxification or poisoning.

So, in this article, I answer the question: “Is Marijuana bad for your cat?”

Weed and Cats

Cannaboids are the active ingredients in Marijuana. Cannaboids are similar to the chemicals our bodies (and our cat’s body) make for movement, appetite, memory and pain.

So let’s take a look at a couple of the active ingredients of Marijuana:

  • marijuana (weed) – also known as cannabis is a psychoactive drug due the presence of THC.
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.
  • CBD – also an active ingredient of marijuana but does not cause psychoactive activity as the THC ingredient.
  • Hemp – another component of marijuana. It has both THC (in lower concentration) and CBD (in higher concentration than the THC – thereby producing a less psychoactive effect).

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, it has seen “a 448 percent increase” in marijuana poisoning in pets “in the last 6 years”.

Although the THC in Marijuana is known to offer great medicinal benefits for humans, it’s not as therapeutic and beneficial for cats. The FDA regulates any product that contains marijuana and its ingredients. Specific components of Marijuana might be beneficial to cats suffering from chronic conditions and mental health issues.

* Catnip, although called cat “weed” by some folks, is not related to Marijuana and does not have the same effect on cats.

How do cats get stoned on marijuana

Typically, when cats are exposed to marijuana it’s accidental such as eating a marijuana-infused edible, ingesting a portion of the weed (marijuana), or second-hand smoke from a marijuana cigarette (a joint or doobie).

I’m definitely no scientist so excuse my very basic explanation.

Cats just like humans have two types of cannabinoid neuroreceptors; CB1 and CB2. These receptors are located in the brain and responsible for:

  • pleasure
  • memory
  • thinking
  • concentration
  • movement
  • coordination
  • nausea
  • vomoting

When a cat is exposed to marijuana, the THC acting as a neurotransmitter binds to the neuroreceptors (CB1, CB2) cells in the brain.

Is pot bad for cats?

The THC in marijuana is toxic for cats but not lethal (can be lethal for dogs, however). There isn’t any documentation of a cat dying from marijuana poisoning.

But that could change over time.

The strength of the THC present in today’s marijuana (compared to a decade or so) has become stronger due to new hybrids and cultivation techniques.

Since cats are smaller than humans it doesn’t take a whole lot for marijuana to become toxic to them. A couple of bites of an edible and within minutes your cat can be under the influence.

And if your cat inhales second-hand smoke from a joint, bong, whatever it can cause respiratory harm along with being toxic as well.

Effects of marijuana on cats

The binding of the receptors by the THC alters the mind/body’s response (psychoactive). So instead of your cat acting normal, it might display the following symptoms:

  • woobly and uncoordinated walk
  • disorientated
  • aggressive
  • vocalizing or crying
  • low heart rate
  • hyperactive
  • depression
  • urinary leakage or incontinence
weed and cats

What about giving your cat CBD?

Earlier in this article, I very briefly discussed what CBD is. To refresh all of our memories; CBD (along with THC) is one of the 113 active ingredients of marijuana. CBD does not have the same psychoactivity as marijuana’s THC component

What are the benefits of CBD for cats?

While there is a toxic risk to your cat ingesting the THC in marijuana; the CBD present in marijuana is a different matter.

CBD has been touted to be great at treating signs and symptoms in cats such as:

  • epilepsy
  • pain related to joint inflammation such as arthritis
  • anxiety
  • depression

Unfortunately, there haven’t been any real scientific studies done on the healing effect of CBD on cats. And amongst veterinarians, opinions range from “no freakin’ way” to “hell yeah, give your cat CBD”.

The National Institute of Health did a study in 2019 on the effects of CBD on cats; it can be read by clicking here.

From my search of the internet, I couldn’t find a whole lot of objective research on CBD for cats. The best source for information on CBD for cats is PetMD. The reason why I think PetMD is a good source is that the articles are written and reviewed by Vets.

To read more about CBD Oil For Cats by PetMD, click here.

As a cat parent, the choice to give it to your cat for everything from anxiety to pain and inflammation might be a tough decision.

CBD is unregulated by the FDA

There are plenty of online stores selling CBD for both cats and dogs. CBD usage for cats (or dogs) has not been approved by the FDA. It is important that you do some research before purchasing CBD for your cat.

If you decide to give it a try with your fluffball, please consult a veterinarian who has some experience with CBD and can direct you to where to purchase good quality CBD supplements.

Conclusion

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, it has seen “a 448 percent increase” in marijuana poisoning in pets “in the last 6 years”.

The THC in marijuana is toxic for cats but not lethal (can be lethal for dogs, however). There hasn’t been any documented cases of a cat dying from marijuana poisoning.

Your cat might display the following symptoms if exposed to marijuana:

  • woobly and uncoordinated walk
  • disorientated
  • aggressive
  • vocalizing or crying
  • low heart rate
  • hyperactive
  • depression
  • urinary leakage or incontinence

CBD (the non-psychoactive component of marijuana) has been touted to be great at treating signs and symptoms in cats such as:

  • epilepsy
  • pain related to joint inflammation such as arthritis
  • anxiety
  • depression

However, not enough studies have been done and the benefits of CBD might be anecdotal, at best. If you decide to give it a try with your fluffball, please consult a veterinarian who has some experience with CBD and can direct you to where to purchase good quality CBD supplements.

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