The anticonvulsant properties of CBD are well-documented in the scientific literature. Both humans and pets can benefit from using it; in this article, we shed light on how CBD oil can help cats with seizures. What Is CBD Oil? Is CBD Legal for Cats? What Effects Does CBD Have on a Cat? Are There Any Negative Side Effects for Cats? How Can I Get a Hold of CBD Oil? Is CBD the Right Option for My Cat? If you have never seen what a seizure looks like, you may be terrified to witness your cat having one. They aren’t easy to watch
CBD Oil for Cats with Seizures & Epilepsy: Can It Help?
Seizures affect 1–3% of the general feline population, being among the most common nervous system disorders in cats.
Data on cats seizures is lacking in the veterinary literature. Therefore, recommendations for the diagnosis and management of cat seizure disorders have been based on the information from studies on dogs and humans.
In 2018, the FDA approved the first antiepileptic CBD-based drug called Epidiolex. The agency didn’t raise objections about using the drug as a treatment for animals, but it still refuses to acknowledge the health benefits of CBD oil — which has been shown by several studies to outperform pure CBD in neurological and inflammatory conditions.
Anecdotal reports from pet parents also indicate the high efficacy of CBD oil in their cats with epilepsy, so in the light of the current evidence, we’ve prepared an article that explains the anticonvulsant properties of CBD and provides tips for cat parents who’ve never used CBD in their furry balls.
Can CBD Help Reduce Seizures in Epileptic Cats?
Numerous studies have outlined CBD’s potential health benefits in treating a range of medical conditions — including anxiety, chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), sleeplessness, and cancer.
The FDA made a groundbreaking decision for CBD in 2018 when it approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication for treatment-resistant seizures associated with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes. It was the first time a CBD drug was approved by the FDA for medical use.
Since the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994 (AMDUCA) allows the off-label use of human drugs in animals, veterinarians can prescribe Epidiolex to cats with seizures too.
In 2019, researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine published a study that suggested CBD might reduce seizures and normalize brain waves in Angelman syndrome. Angelman syndrome is a rare disease affecting neurological development.
CBD has demonstrated anticonvulsant and antiepileptic properties in human and canine studies.
One study found that CBD can provide health benefits in generalized seizures, which impact both sides of the brain and often result in a loss of consciousness.
Similar results were observed in another study, where CBD reduced the percentage of animals that were suffering from severe tonic-clonic seizures. This condition is characterized by two stages. At first, a loss of consciousness occurs, lasting between 10–20 seconds. Then, muscle convulsions are triggered, lasting up to 2 minutes.
The above results suggest that CBD may be effective in treating generalized and focal seizures.
Although no direct studies have examined the effects of CBD use in cats with seizures, the therapeutic benefits may also be comparable to those achieved in humans and dogs due to similar mechanisms of the ECS in all mammals.
How CBD Works to Relieve Seizures in Cats?
CBD engages with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) through its cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2).
CB1 receptors are dominating the brain and nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are mostly found in peripheral organs, including immune cells and the endocrine system.
The ECS is involved in pain signaling, sleep cycles, memory processing, mood stabilization, and motor regulation.
When you give your cat CBD oil, CBD’s interaction with CB2 receptors prompts an anti-inflammatory response, which decreases pain and reduces damage to nerve tissues.
The anticonvulsant properties of CBD are influenced by the cannabinoid’s effect on TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid 1), a pain receptor.
TRPV1 shows abnormal activity in epileptic brain areas. Studies report that the inhibition of this receptor may be a new target for the prevention of seizures and epilepsy in humans and animals, including cats.
The Benefits of Using CBD Oil for Feline Seizures
- The FDA approved a CBD-based medication (Epidiolex) for the treatment of intractable seizures linked to Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
- CBD is non-intoxicating and doesn’t lead to addiction. Therefore, cat parents can safely give CBD to cats with seizures, using veterinarian-approved doses.
- Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. You can buy it in different forms, including tinctures, CBD cat treats, capsules, and topicals.
- The FDA hasn’t received reports of adverse reactions or toxicity of CBD in animals. The only reports received were of accidental ingestion of high-THC cannabis by dogs.
What Are the Limitations?
- No direct studies on cats have been conducted to test CBD’s health benefits for feline seizures. Neither are there analyses of CBD’s effects of long-term use in cats.
- The FDA doesn’t approve any cannabis-derived products for animals. The agency has only acknowledged the benefits of pure CBD for epilepsy; it has yet to investigate the properties of whole-plant extracts and their effects on dogs and cats.
- California is the only state where veterinarians have the right to discuss cannabis use with clients. In other states, cat owners need to take the initiative and ask the vet about the benefits of CBD for seizures.
- CBD may interact with other prescription medications currently taken by a cat. These interactions may result in second-hand side effects resulting from a too low or too high concentration of the drug in the cat’s system.
How to Choose the Best CBD Oil for Cats with Seizures?
CBD oil is usually derived from the hemp plant — a non-intoxicating species of cannabis.
There are three different types of CBD extracts: full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate.
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains a range of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and trace minerals naturally found in cannabis. Cannabinoids and terpenes modulate their activity, amplifying their benefits while mitigating the potential side effects of one another. This phenomenon is called the entourage effect.
Broad-spectrum CBD oils are much like full-spectrum but this CBD has no traces of THC.
Isolates are exactly what they sound like — they are pure CBD that has no other compounds from hemp. While CBD isolate delivers the highest dose of CBD per serving and has been touted for its antiepileptic properties, cannabis experts, as well as cat parents, argue that whole-plant CBD works better for their furry friends.
The entourage effect has been described by several studies, and although there are no clinical trials to prove it on large populations, it’s difficult to argue that the phenomenon exists — considering various experiments that were performed on cannabis to highlight it.
Aside from choosing the right type of CBD, make sure that your product matches the following criteria:
- Choose CBD oil derived from organic, non-GMO hemp
- Look for CBD oils produced by brands that use CO2 extraction technology
- Make sure that the CBD oil uses natural carrier oils, such as hemp seed oil or MCT oil from coconut. Extra-virgin olive oil is also a good carrier oil that improves the bioavailability of CBD.
- Ask for certificates of analysis (COA); they should be batch-specific and list the entire phytochemical profile of your product, along with the results for contaminants.
- Use the manufacturer’s dosing instructions as a point of reference; they are printed on each product label. More importantly, talk to your vet about using CBD oil in cats for professional guidance.
CBD Dosage for Cats with Seizures
Since there have been no direct studies examining the efficacy of CBD for cats with seizures, we don’t have any official dosage charts for this condition.
CBD dosing will be driven by the cat’s body weight, diet, overall health, and age. Different CBD oil brands recommend different dosing guidelines, but most manufacturers of CBD pet oils will provide specific dosage ranges based on the above factors.
A good rule of thumb is to start with 0.25 to 0.5 mg for every pound of the cat’s body weight, or 1 to 5 mg of CBD for every 10 pounds.
Just be sure to stay conservative about adding CBD oil to your cat’s diet. Underdosing is better than overdosing; you can always up the dosage, but you won’t take any away.
CBD is generally safe and well-tolerated by humans and animals, but it can have some mild side effects when overdosed. For example, your cat can experience a dry mouth, dizziness, lethargy, changes in appetite, and (very rarely) diarrhea.
Once you’ve found the dose that works for your cat’s seizures, you can lock in it because CBD doesn’t cause tolerance buildups.
How to Give CBD Oil to Cats?
CBD oil comes in a glass bottle with a dropper attached for accurate dosing. Cat owners can slowly give CBD to their cats, drop by drop, so that their furry friend can get accustomed to its effects.
You can administer CBD oil sublingually (under the cat’s tongue), or by applying it onto its gums using your fingertip.
If your cat doesn’t like the hempy flavor of full-spectrum CBD, you can try mixing it with their food. There are also CBD capsules and treats for fussy cats; these products contain a predetermined dose of CBD in each serving, so they’re not only easier to give to your cat but also more enjoyable than tinctures.
You can also find topical formulations such as balms, salves, and transdermal patches. These products are good for localized problems, so while they probably won’t reduce the activity of seizures in your cat, they can relax their muscles after a seizure attack on top of providing calming effects and improving joint mobility.
How Does CBD Compare to Other Seizure Treatments for Cats?
In a study posted in the British Journal of Nutrition, a ketogenic diet rich in medium-chain triacylglycerols led to levels of ketosis that were helpful in preventing seizures in dogs with epilepsy.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate nutrition system, and the aforementioned fatty acids help with entering the state of ketosis, where the body uses ketone bodies instead of blood sugar to burn stored fat for energy.
The dogs were fed with the keto diet or a placebo for three months. After that period, the feeding model was switched respectively and continued for another three months.
The authors reported that seizure frequency and monthly seizure activity were significantly reduced in the 21 dogs that finished the 12 weeks of the keto diet compared to the group that received the placebo.
Cat owners also use some herbal remedies, such as skullcap, ginger, and passionflower to reduce the occurrence of seizures.
Passionflower can ease insomnia, anxiety, and seizures due to its calming effects on an overactive nervous system.
The flavonoids naturally occurring in the skullcap may also exert anticonvulsant effects.
Similar to skullcap, ginger has also demonstrated anticonvulsant properties in studies conducted on mice.
Again, while the studies mentioned in this article weren’t done on cats, the ECS in all mammals functions in similar ways, so CBD and the said herbal remedies might also work for cats with seizures.
In fact, one review of studies on herbal medicines lists cannabis as one of the most common herbal remedies used in epilepsy.
Key Takeaways on Giving CBD Oil to Cats with Seizures
If your cat has been suffering from regular seizures, you can use CBD to reduce the frequency and severity of these dreadful episodes. Not only that, but CBD might also help you improve your cat’s quality of life aside from helping it cope with this neurological condition.
The research on the effects of CBD on feline seizures is scant, but the existing studies on humans and dogs indicate a bright future for the use of CBD for seizures and epilepsy in cats.
Thanks to the similar nature of ECS among all mammals, you have very strong ground to expect the same effects when it comes to your furry companion.
Once you decide to give your cat CBD oil for seizures after talking to your vet, it’s important that you pick a high-quality product. Always choose brands that post relevant and up-to-date third-party lab results online or with the product’s package.
Do you give your cat CBD for seizures? Share your experience in the comments; we’d love to hear how CBD works for your purr.
- Pakozdy, A., Halasz, P., & Klang, A. (2014). Epilepsy in cats: theory and practice. Journal of veterinary internal medicine, 28(2), 255–263. (1)
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018). FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana, to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy. FDA News Release. Available from: (2)
- Gu, B., Zhu, M., Glass, M. R., Rougié, M., Nikolova, V. D., Moy, S. S., Carney, P. R., & Philpot, B. D. (2019). Cannabidiol attenuates seizures and EEG abnormalities in Angelman syndrome model mice. The Journal of clinical investigation, 129(12), 5462–5467. (3)
- Silvestro, S., Mammana, S., Cavalli, E., Bramanti, P., & Mazzon, E. (2019). Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy: Efficacy and Security in Clinical Trials. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(8), 1459.(4)
- Marchese, F., Vari, M. S., Balagura, G., Riva, A., Salpietro, V., Verrotti, A., Citraro, R., Lattanzi, S., Minetti, C., Russo, E., & Striano, P. (2020). An Open Retrospective Study of a Standardized Cannabidiol Based-Oil in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 10.1089/can.2019.0082. Advance online publication. (5)
- Nazıroğlu M. (2015). TRPV1 Channel: A Potential Drug Target for Treating Epilepsy. Current neuropharmacology, 13(2), 239–247. (6)
- Russo E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. (7)
- Russo E. B. (2019). The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Frontiers in plant science, 9, 1969. (8)
- Law, T. H., Davies, E. S., Pan, Y., Zanghi, B., Want, E., & Volk, H. A. (2015). A randomized trial of a medium-chain TAG diet as a treatment for dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. The British journal of nutrition, 114(9), 1438–1447. (9)
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
CBD Oil for Seizures & Epilepsy in Cats
If you have never seen what a seizure looks like, you may be terrified to witness your cat having one. They aren’t easy to watch because you can’t do much for them except keep them from hurting themselves.
What you can do is protect them from the dangers around them. Move them away from potential hazards like stairwells or drop-offs and keep their head away from furniture or rocks that could harm them. After you do this, it’s just a matter of waiting for the seizure to pass.
If your cat suffers from seizures and epilepsy, a suitable alternative that may help manage them is CBD oil. It’s worth looking into as it has the potential to help your furry friend.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is the acronym used for cannabidiol. While other cannabinoids may be present in several types of plants all over the world, CBD is unique in that it is only found in cannabis and accounts for up to 40% of the plant extract. Therefore, being a cannabinoid has nothing to do with whether it derives from marijuana; it depends on the molecular structure.
CBD oil derives from hemp. The reason is that hemp has the least concentrations of THC (the cannabinoid that marijuana is famous for as it causes you to feel the head high). THC, however, is toxic to animals such as dogs and cats. Therefore, hemp-derived CBD is preferable for two reasons.
Is CBD Legal for Cats?
As mentioned above, when CBD derives from hemp, it is low in THC and perfectly legal. You need to ensure you are buying CBD extracted from hemp, as it can come from marijuana
as well. This type should only be for sale in a legal marijuana dispensary in a state that has legalized medical marijuana. It will not be safe for pets, however.
What Effects Does CBD Have on a Cat?
CBD can trigger the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to work more efficiently. The process improves the body’s response to pain, tremors, appetite, metabolism, and more.
The ECS is responsible for bringing balance back to the body. Its primary job is to maintain the status of homeostasis within the body. Homeostasis improves the efficiency of every body system, with the ECS working as a “supervisor” for these systems. All mammals have an ECS, and scientists believe it is the most critical system of the body.
We have only known about the ECS since the 1990s, and researchers are still learning much
about it. Many people have never heard of it because information about the ECS didn’t exist when we were in school.
Are There Any Negative Side Effects for Cats?
If your cat is rubbing their head, they may have a headache. The most common of the three is diarrhea. If you notice it, reduce the amount of CBD you’re giving your cat or skip a dose entirely. Reducing or stopping treatment will typically mitigate the problem.
Reduce the amount of the doses going forward until they’ve had a chance to adjust. CBD is not addictive. There have been very few reports of side-effects, and they have never been life-threatening. The worst side-effects may be extreme tiredness, diarrhea, or headaches. You do not need to have any concerns about your cat getting high from using CBD. It will not impair their ability to function normally. Nor will it cause them to have any issues with dependency.
How Can I Get a Hold of CBD Oil?
CBD is available in many places, especially on the internet. Please, do some research to learn the difference between a quality CBD oil and one that may be questionable. It’s also essential that you speak to your veterinarian and keep them in the loop when it comes to decisions about your cat’s care. They should agree with whatever you decide to do and know about it.
Is CBD the Right Option for My Cat?
It’s important to understand that CBD is not a cure. It is an excellent tool for managing many different conditions, such as epilepsy and seizure conditions. Whether it’s the best option for your furry friend, is something only you can answer. CBD may be the right choice for your cat, but only you can determine that. It requires you to do a fair amount of research and learn the pros and cons. You should understand the general way in which it works within the body, and you should prepare for the good and the bad.
You must run it by your veterinarian, especially if your cat is already taking other medications. CBD can be a natural blood thinner, and this means that it could interact with other medicines that also thin the blood. Your veterinarian will be able to inform you properly, as will your own research.
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
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The Innovet Team
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