There is very limited research on the effects of cannabinoids on pets. Although some studies have emerged touting their benefits for dogs, especially when treating arthritis, research on the topic for cats is comparably sparse.
ElleVet Sciences, a company developing cannabinoid-based treatments for cats and dogs, is the only company so far to have conducted a long-term clinical trial of cannabinoid products on cats. Aside from their research, most other data on how the substances affect cats comes from anecdotal reports.
Following months of efficacy, safety, dosing, and palatability testing, ElleVet says they noticed positive results on cats using their propriety cannabidiol (CBD) oil blend.
“Cats are absolutely not small dogs and they metabolize things very differently. Cats can’t take any of the drugs that dogs take for pain. Their livers just don’t tolerate it.” says Amanda Howland, founder of ElleVet.
That said, if cats are given pain relievers developed for dogs, they can get very sick. She added, “There are very few pain options for cats that are safe. So we did a long-term safety study to determine that [our products] are safe for cats.”
From trials testing on dogs too, the company found that cannabinoid medicine works better on cats than dogs in treating anxiety. Like in dogs, they also saw decreases in arthritis pain from the drug. As the half-life of hemp oil in cats is just two hours, cats need more frequent dosing than their canine counterparts.
Although in its infancy, cannabis studies focusing on therapeutics for cats are gaining more interest from cannabis researchers around the world. Meanwhile, ElleVet currently has a cat study underway to assess how cannabinoids may relieve pain, as well as another to see whether they can reduce anxiety levels in cats with chronic urinary tract infections.