Here in Florida there seem to be signs on every block, many stores, and even gas stations with giant “CBD Sold Here!” in big block letters. I can say first hand that there are benefits for humans especially when it comes to decreasing inflammation and thereby preventing pain and other health problems that result. This got me thinking about whether or not our kitties could benefit from it. So I jumped onto Google Scholar, and started my searching endeavor!
As it turns out, all mammals have an endocannabinoid system which is to say there are receptors in the body (referred to as CB1 and CB2 most frequently) that are built to accept and react to the different compounds in the cannabis plant. One of the scientific articles from the National Institute of Health has a scientific but well laid out explanation of this system here. Basically, these receptors are present in all of us mammals. You may be wondering what the heck this has to do with Feline Diabetes and why on Earth should we give Kitty marijuana! Allow me to explain: CBD sold without requiring a doctor’s recommendation usually comes from industrial hemp which has abundant CBD and a low amount of THC. These are the main compounds in every cannabis plant, and the ratios are different in what we think of as marijuana which contains higher THC. So, no, Kitty is not going to be up all night with the munchies or suddenly love Pink Floyd, tie-dye, or any of the other things we humans associate with the stereotypical idea of “pothead.” (Most of these ideas are wrong anyway, but that is another story for another time.)
How could CBD benefit Kitty? There is proof that there are CB1 and CB2 receptors in our fur baby’s pancreas. Research has shown that these receptors when stimulated can regulate insulin levels possibly by stimulating insulin production and thereby assisting in blood glucose control. As well, CBD also has a history of decreasing inflammation throughout the body which theoretically could help with many other inflammatory conditions including arthritis, digestive issues, anxiety, sleep modulation, etc. A whole ton of articles can be found here. Some are recent, but I found many from the 1980s that were focused on the research of the endocannabinoid system and the receptors that were found in many different areas of the body. It is like we mammals were made with a built-in system for cannabis.
Is this CBD stuff right for my Kitty? It depends on Kitty’s health, age, health condition, etc. This should always be discussed with your veterinarian first. However, if the vet agrees that it would be worthwhile to try, it is time to start shopping. To that end, ignore all those signs boldly stating “CBD Sold Here!” In order to see if CBD will be effective for Kitty, some homework is required. It is best to source your CBD from a source where the vendor provides independent lab test results, lists their extraction methods, contains a lot number on the container, and have a solid reputation. Any vendor that meets these standards will charge a little more, but, to me, I would much rather know exactly what I am getting so if Kitty has a bad reaction, we can bring the lab information to the vet and see what the issue is. Hint: You are not likely to get that at your local convenient store or gas station.
Administration of CBD should be pretty straight forward. The pet versions include the tinctures and sometimes treats. If Kitty is good about treats, they will be the easiest choice. If your cats are like mine, however, the tincture may be easier since we can add a little to their food. Also, I prefer tinctures, especially to begin with because you can start with really small doses especially if Kitty is sensitive to changes in treatments. Start low, go slow, and add your dosages and results in your Kitty’s journal. If we put a drop or two in Kitty’s food once a day and see no adverse effects, we can continue to slowly go up on the dose over several weeks to see if it helps. Anecdotal comments from around the net and my own circle of pet lovers suggest that CBD can make pets seem younger and become more active and generally just better. CBD is also being researched for pain management, cancer, and many other conditions in both animals and humans. As of 2018, Israel is the big winner in cannabis research. The top five also includes the Netherlands, Uruguay, the Czech Republic, and Canada.
CBD is not going to make Kitty “high” even with the super small amount of THC that naturally occurs in the hemp plant. That is what catnip, cat grass, and silver vine are for! Will CBD be the miracle cure-all? I doubt there is a miracle cure-all for anything, but there is a lot of possibility for improvement! CBD is something worth considering especially with aging Kitty who will have a tendency toward arthritis which in turn leads to lower activity levels which leads to weight issues and on and on. If we decrease the inflammatory processes, it is logical to think that other systems will also improve. CBD should be an adjunct treatment. Daily testing, insulin, and diet are by far the most important factors when managing feline diabetes. However, if we can help Kitty’s pancreas along, give them a bit more energy, improve their digestion, and/or decrease their pain, it is worth at least considering. Even if their underlying condition remains the same, if it makes Kitty feel better and have an improved quality of life, it is worth a try. Again, I will stress the importance of talking to your vet prior to adding any holistic treatment to Kitty’s regimen to minimize risk and ensure there are no contraindications with any medications Kitty may already be taking.
*I, myself, have used good quality cannabis products with a physician recommendation, and it has been a wonderful adjunct in treating my migraines, improving sleep, and decreasing anxiety. It is certainly not the cure-all, but it helps make my medications work better, enabled me to cut out opioids completely, and minimize the use of NSAIDS like Aleve, aspirin, and ibuprofen. Most of the time, I can treat a migraine with a little bit of tincture and up to two Tylenol. For those of you who get migraines, you know what the odds are that Tylenol will completely treat a migraine – hardly ever.
Be safe out there! Remember that the COVID-19 virus did NOT disappear, and we still need to practice social distancing and use a mask if you can get one. I am finally feeling better, but I would gladly wear a mask for the rest of my life to avoid being that ill again! I am in quarantine for one more day, and my mask is ready to go for my release tomorrow!
As always, the Feline Diabetes Support Group on FB is a wonderful resource with great admins and community members who are caring and very, very helpful.