Hey Pet Parents & Pet Lovers,
This post is a bit off-brand for Pets Overload, but I think it’s a very important conversation to have, especially with the legalization of marijuana/cannabis in Canada (which happens on October 17, 2018).
Marijuana has multiple purposes and while I’m not here to give you a lesson on whether or not it should be legalized, I do want to share some of the things you’re going to need to know if you choose to smoke or vape pot near your cats.
Is Marijuana/Cannabis anything like Catnip?
One of the most common questions folks have is if catnip is anything like marijuana/cannabis. Actually, when we used to give Walker catnip, my mom would always get mad at us because she thought we were giving Walker the equivalent of kitty weed! The opposite is true though.
Cannabis and Catnip are actually from completely different plants. Cannabis Sativa (the plant where marijuana comes from) is meant to relieve nausea and pain for those suffering from different diseases and ailments. It alters the state of consciousness with THC (also known as Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol).
Is Cannabis/Marijuana Toxic to Cats?
Simply put, yes it can be toxic, but in most cases, the toxicity isn’t fatal. Cannabis can be administered to cats in smaller doses, however, that will be covered later in this article.
Is there any solid evidence that Cannabis is good/safe for cats?
Unfortunately, at this time there are no solid studies that provide that Cannabis actually helps cats.
Are they working on getting studies done?
Absolutely! Actually in June 2013, there was a case where a pet parent had a dog who’s dog had a tumour in their spleen which metastasized to his liver and even further to his lungs. When the dog was given two months to live the owner decided to guy glycerin tincture which is considered a pet medicine in Los Angeles. The dog’s health began to improve immensely and his energy levels began to rise. Because of this, the owner began recommending the drug to other owners.
Since then vets have been working on releasing articles about the benefits of marijuana and pets.
What are some benefits they’ve discovered so far?
Medical marijuana is currently used for cats who have conditions such as arthritis, asthma, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), pancreatitis, cancer, may prevent seizures, reduce anxiety and treat other conditions. Although this is true, it’s not certain what the dosages should be. This is usually distributed as CBD oil (or Cannabidiol). The issue is until marijuana is fully legal, vets are unable to prescribe CBD oil to cats (which may be why you haven’t heard of it).
Are there any risks to CBD Oil?
At the moment there have been no negative signs seen from CBD oils, so for those of you who are already giving your cats CBD oil, you’re okay!
Are there any forms of Cannabis that are considered harmful to cats?
It is strongly suggested that marijuana should never be smoked or vaped around cats. This is true of anything that creates smoke including pipes, cigarettes or cigars.
Why is it recommended cats aren’t near smoke?
Smoke has been proven to cause forms of asthma or lung disease in cats. Although this is not always going to happen to your cats, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you are smoking outside, or through a window if you choose to smoke anything.
My Cat Ate My Bud/Edibles! What do I do?
Cats that ingest marijuana tend to show the following symptoms
- Bradycardia (Slower Heart Rate)
- Comas (if the Seizures are extreme)
- May lose control of their limbs and fall over
- Excessive Vocalizations
- Incontinence (Dribbling Urine)
The ASPCA (or the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) states that cats may also experience:
- Low Blood Pressure
- Extreme Sleepiness
- Dilated Pupils
- Lower Body Temperature
- Death (although very rare)
When a cat is exposed to marijuana it is highly recommended that you take your cat to the vet, especially if they are showing any of the symptoms stated above. As mentioned above, marijuana ingestion is usually not fatal, however making sure your cat’s system gets flushed.
Another option is to call the “pet poison helpline” if your vet is closed.
What can you do for your cat if there’s no vet around?
Keep a very close eye on your cat. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do for your cat. Due to the fact that pot is an anti-emetic, it means that your cat is unlikely to throw it up. (Although again, this depends on how much they have ingested.) You may have to induce your cat’s vomiting to have them expel the drug, although I would highly recommend taking them to the emergency if they do not throw up. Make sure your cat is getting loads of water so they remain hydrated (especially if they are throwing up, expressing incontinence or dispelling fluids in any other ways.) Try you calm your cat down and remove any objects that may harm them while they stumble around the house.
How long does it take for you to see symptoms?
Dependant on how much marijuana was ingested and how it was ingested, smoke or digestion, you may see symptoms of toxicity within minutes.
I’m curious, do different strains of marijuana affect cats differently?
Absolutely! Similar to humans, some strains will help aide physical pain, while others will merely give you a psychoactive effect. You will want to be finding cannabidiols that have a higher concentration of CBD and not THC (as THC has the psychoactive effect). Most of the research to this date has been on Hemp (which contains less than 0.3% THC.)