Is Cannabis truly dangerous to cats? Or can it help Vets to treat feline medical issues?
In this 2-part series, Linda Hall explores the ways THC and CBD can be of benefit to our cats’ health.
by Linda Hall, Cat Behavior Expert
Back to the 80’s…
Let’s hop in my time machine to my high school in the early 80’s. Nancy Regan was amping up to fight the war on drugs and marijuana was included in the list of dangerous substances. We didn’t know terms like Cannabis, THC, CBD, Sativa and Indica. We just had pot. Someone grew it in secret and sold it to fellow “pot-heads” who used it for enjoyment.
No, I was not one of the pot users back then because I saw the commercials! My two favorites were the fried egg (this is your brain … this is your brain and drugs) and another that taught us smoking pot would cause us to be 35 years old, living in our parent’s basement and going nowhere. Ooooh!
How Cannabis is used today
Today things are vastly different. As of February, 2022, 37 US states had legalized cannabis products for medical use and 18 US states plus Washington DC made marijuana legal for recreational use. These numbers continue to grow as more states pass legislation in favor of Cannabis products. In 2020, marijuana sales made a record breaking 17.5 BILLION US dollars according to Forbes.
According to AARP, over 600,000 people have turned to Cannabis to help with chronic pain! Usage by seniors is up 75% over the last 3 years. (Read AARP Article here). It’s effective at relieving pain, and because you can avoid the side effects traditional medications carry, it’s becoming a preferred method of pain management. Cannabis has also been found to help with insomnia, nausea, anxiety, cancer and many, many more conditions.
Great, but what does this have to do with cats?
Safe Cannabis Use Around Cats (and other pets)
Well … I’m so happy you asked! There are two things regarding kitties that are of interest to cat lovers. We are often asked our thoughts on Cannabis products to help our kitties, and we would be remiss if we did not discuss its potential issues as well as it’s benefits.
Let’s start with safety! As more humans bring Cannabis products into their homes, we need to know what dangers may be present. We know that smoking or vaping marijuana in your home can lead to second hand smoke exposure and this exposure can cause problems for your feline due to their smaller bodies and unique physiology. (Read: Signs of Marijuana Toxicity in Cats)
If you are going to smoke, it is best to go outside or in a separate room, where you can close the door. If you are going to smoke in your home where your kitties are present, please make sure it is a larger, well ventilated room to reduce the risks.
Do NOT blow smoke in your cat’s face! A news article recently came out that includes a video showing teens in Canada smoking pot and blowing it in the face of a kitten. Somehow, they thought it was humorous. Sadly, this happens quite often and it’s not just teens doing it. Trying to get your pet “high” can result in a scared, anxious or sick kitty, which is definitely not funny. Legally, it is classified as animal cruelty and can result in legal charges.
Edible Cannabis Use
Edibles are becoming increasingly popular with those who prefer not to smoke. Fortunately, edible users avoid the risk of second hand exposure to their pets. However, that doesn’t mean there is zero danger! There have been many reports of cats getting into edibles! In my house, if my kitties see my food out, unguarded, they see it as an opportunity! Make sure you keep your edibles secure to protect those curious kitties. The larger amount of THC can be an issue for your cat as well as other ingredients in these treats! Chocolate and xylitol (an artificial sweetener) are common in edibles and can be toxic to our pets! Keep those out of the reach out of paws reach for safety!
We hope this information helps you to make an informed choice about using Cannabis, both for yourself and for your cat.