The Benefits of CBD Oil vs. Catnip: Effects on Feline Physiology

Posted on October 25, 2018
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We’re occasionally asked by our customers about the difference between hemp-derived CBD oil for cats and catnip. There is actually a very stark difference between the effects of the two herbs on the feline physiology.

Essentially, when sniffed, catnip is believed to mimic a feline pheromone which is responsible for putting a cat in a randy mood. The effect only lasts about 10 minutes and is reduced greatly with regular exposure. No long-term benefits to cats from sniffing catnip have been identified.

When eaten by cats, catnip produces the same effects in cats as it does in humans, acting as a sedative. This sedative effect can last for a few hours.

The most common reasons pet owners offer their cats catnip is to enjoy their antics when sniffed, and to chill a cat out when eaten.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid compound found in CBD oil. It works by interacting with a bodily system known as the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. This is a system of neurotransmitters produced by the brain and central nervous system and receptors on the surface of cells. The purpose of the ECS is to regulate and modulate a wide variety of bodily functions at a cellulate level.

The most common reasons that pet owners give for purchasing CBD oil for their cats is to help reduce anxiety as well as aggressive and destructive behaviors. Other reasons for giving a cat CBD oil include reducing pain, improving appetite, reducing nausea and vomiting, treating symptoms of old age, controlling seizures among others.

Let’s take a point-by-point look at how catnip and CBD oil for cats compare.

Hemp CBD Oil vs. Catnip

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb and a member of the mint family.

Hemp is considered a weed and a member of the family Canabacea.

Catnip can grow to be up to three feet high.

Hemp can grow up to 15 feet high!

The active chemical compound in catnip, nepetalactone is found in the leaves and stems.

The active chemical compound in hemp CBD oil is cannabidiol is found in the flower clusters.

Nepetalactone acts as a stimulant and intoxicant when sniffed. It is believed to mimic a  hormone responsible for affection or a pheromone (sexual attractant). It acts as a sedative when eaten.

CBD acts as a neurotransmitter and mimics the effects of endocannabinoids such as anandamide by interacting with cannabinoid receptors throughout the body.

The scent of catnip causes intoxication which is believed to be similar to marijuana although no one is really sure.

CBD improves moods and reduces anxiety by helping to regulate the production and uptake of “happy hormones” such as dopamine and serotonin.

The effects of catnip last for about 10 minutes before wearing off.

The effects of CBD oil last 4 to 6 hours.

About 50 percent of cats are affected by catnip, and the behavior varies widely between individuals.

It is believed that cats have a high level of cannabinoid receptors. CBD’s affects on cats vary depending on the cat’s ECS.

Kittens are not affected by catnip.

Cats of all ages can be affected by CBD.

Catnip is generally safe for cats, however eating might cause vomiting and diarrhea.

CBD oil is non-toxic and safe for cats at prescribed dosages. At high doses, it can act as a sedative.

Frequent use of catnip causes a tolerance buildup.

CBD does not cause a tolerance buildup.

Catnip is a quick way to change a cat’s mood and make it more playful for a few minutes.

Catnip and CBD for cats
Catnip and CBD for cats work differently. Catnip is a quick way to change a cat’s mood and make it more playful for a few minutes.

CBD oil has been shown to help to:

  • Regulate the immune system

  • Reduce anxiety and depression

  • Regulate appetite and sleep cycles

  • Reduce inflammation and pain

  • Reduce seizures and trembling

  • Act as a neuroprotectant

  • Reduce nausea and vomiting

  • Reduce destructive behaviors

  • Reduce aggressive behaviors

Hemp CBD vs. Cannabis Oil from Marijuana

If hemp CBD is good for your cat, should ever you give your cat marijuana? Absolutely not!

There are two types of essential oils produced from cannabis — those made from hemp (which is non-intoxicating) and those made from marijuana (which makes people high).

Cannabis oil made from marijuana might contain CBD, but it also contains another cannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is responsible for the intoxicating effects of marijuana. CBD oil made from hemp is, for all intents and purposes, THC free and does not cause a high.

Not only are cats much, much smaller than humans, they also express higher levels of cannabinoid receptors than humans. This makes them highly susceptible to the effects of cannabinoids.

While CBD, when used as recommended might benefit your cat’s health greatly. THC, on the other hand, can make a cat very sick even in small doses.

Whereas a tiny piece of a cannabis bud (with, say, 10 milligrams of THC) can cause a human to become intoxicated. For a cat, that same tiny serving is the equivalent of hundreds of milligrams of THC and it will completely and utterly incapacitate your pet.

So, never give your cat any products made from marijuana. Stick with hemp CBD and you’ll enjoy a long relationship with a healthy, happy cat.

The Bottom Line on CBD vs. Catnip for Cats

Catnip can be fun for both cats and humans when used occasionally. And when used as a dietary supplement, catnip will temporarily calm a hyperactive cat. However, its effects are shortlived, and cats will quickly build up a tolerance to catnip.

When used as a dietary supplement, CBD can result in more than just a chill cat. It can have a wide range of effects above and beyond merely inducing relaxation. I can help to improve mood, reduce pain, and reduce aggressive and destructive behavior, and much more.

MediPets CBD for pets offers a line of CBD oil-infused products made specifically for cats including CBD oil for cats, CBD pet spray, and CBD cat treats.

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