Although cancer is less common in cats than it is with dogs, it still affects many felines and is one of the most feared diseases in today’s world.
Telltale symptoms of cancer in cats include lumps that gain size or change shape, persistent sores, loss of appetite, unexplained bleeding, and lameness.
If the cancer is tumor-related, surgery and further medication may be recommended to keep the disease in remission and make sure it doesn’t strike back.
However, pharmaceutical treatments are usually invasive and entail a list of harmful side effects and adverse reactions that can deteriorate the quality of your cat’s life.
This is the main reason why many cat owners are turning to CBD as a means of relief from the symptoms of cancer without the nasty side effects.
In this article, we explain how CBD oil could help with cancer — and how to choose the right product for your furry friend to keep them safe.
Key Highlights on CBD Oil for Cats with Cancer
- There are different types of feline cancer. Each of them can drastically decrease their quality of life. Cancer in cats involves symptoms such as changing lumps, unexplained bleeding, loss of appetite, and persistent pain.
- Anti-cancer medications for felines are available, but they can also cause adverse reactions to cats. CBD is a promising solution that could be a natural and safer way to manage cancer in cats.
- According to several preliminary studies on CBD, the cannabinoid can trigger the death of cancerous cells in the body on top of stopping the growth of malignant tumors (1-3).
- Despite a high safety profile, CBD can cause a few mild side effects, such as drowsiness, disorientation, and problems with coordination. This rather happens at higher doses.
CBD Oil for Cats with Cancer: Best Products (2020)
1. Royal CBD (Editor’s Choice)
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Why We Recommend Royal CBD Oil for Cats with Cancer
Royal CBD has recently extended its product line up, adding 3 potency options of CBD pet oil for dogs of different sizes. Starting at 125 mg up to 500 mg of total CBD, this oil features an organic full-spectrum formula — meaning your cat gets the whole hemp goodness and synergy from cannabinoid and terpenes. If your cat turns its nose away from the dropper when you try to administer unflavored CBD oil, this one will change their mind, as it comes in the bacon flavor loved by all carnivores on this planet. Royal CBD offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re looking for a risk-free to try out its products. The brand also sells CBD pet treats for those who prefer predictable dosing for their cats with cancer.
2. Gold Bee (Best Organic)
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Why We Recommend Gold Bee CBD Oil for Cats with Cancer
Gold Bee is a California-based brand that has recently launched its first line of CBD oils for humans and pets after spending several years in the superfoods industry. Gold Bee makes full-spectrum CBD extracts sourced from organic hemp that have two flavored options: kiwi and honey. These oils are available in three potencies, including 300 mg, 600 mg, and 1200 mg. While the company lacks low-potency oils for cats, such as 125 mg, their strongest option is great for large felines that need higher doses of CBD in their routine. These are both high-quality and affordable products. Each batch undergoes rigorous testing in a certified laboratory for its CBD content and purity levels.
3. CBDistillery (Runner Up)
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CBDistillery is one of the most recognizable brands on the market these days. The company also offers a very broad selection of products, including tinctures, capsules, gummies, topicals, vapes, and CBD isolate powders.
CBDistillery has two versions of CBD pet oil in its line up — 150 mg and 600 mg — designed with both small and large cats. Similar to the two above brands, this one also makes full-spectrum extracts to leverage the concept of the entourage effect and provide your cat with all the beneficial compounds found in hemp.
If you’re shopping for CBD on a budget, CBDistillery will be your best bet. All of the company’s products are third-party lab tested and extracted with CO2 for consistent potency and highest purity.
4. CBD Pure (Good Value)
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About CBD Pure
CBD Pure offers three types of CBD products: full-spectrum CBD oil, high-potency CBD capsules, and CBD-infused cream. All products can be used in cats with cancer. However, keep in mind that CBD Pure doesn’t have high-strength oils in its collection, so if you’re looking for something more potent, we recommend the company’s capsules or cream. The capsules contain 25 mg per piece, and the cream has been infused with 750 mg of full-spectrum CBD. CBD Pure has Certificates of Analysis for all its products and a 90-day return policy that allows you to return the product for a full refund if you decide that it doesn’t work for your cat.
5. Charlotte’s Web (Best Variety)
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About Charlotte’s Web
The guys at Charlotte’s Web deserve credit for starting the global hype on CBD. This is the company responsible for helping the now-late girl Charlotte Figi reduce their seizure attacks from several events per day to one attack per month. Since then, the brand has evolved and helped not only thousands of humans but also dogs and cats. Charlotte’s Web offers the broadest selection of CBD pet products among all the companies listed in this compilation. You can choose from CBD oils, treats, and CBD-infused creams. However, the oil is only available in one potency option — 500 mg — so if you want more freedom of choice, we suggest that you check out Charlotte’s Web pet treats or pick a CBD oil from one of the other four brands.
Is CBD Oil a Viable Option for Cats with Cancer?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a highly versatile health supplement extracted from cannabis plants (mostly from hemp). Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, so it won’t make you or your cat feel high.
There is a growing body of evidence supporting the efficacy of CBD in many conditions where conventional treatments have failed. People use CBD to relieve pain and other symptoms of cancer in their pets. Although there is no precise data that would say “yes, CBD can cure cancer,” there are studies pointing towards its health benefits in small animals.
Let’s dig deeper into this subject.
Studies on CBD, Animals, and the Endocannabinoid System
One 2018 study, for example, shows promising results when it comes to using hemp-derived CBD and terpenes on dogs with osteoarthritis. Most dogs that consumed CBD oil during the study experienced less pain and better mobility in general (4).
The same study reported no side effects and concluded that dogs can tolerate dosages around 2 mg per kilogram of body weight twice each day. These findings indicate that CBD may not only help with one of the most troubling symptoms in animals with cancer, but it’s also safe for them.
Interestingly, according to a study on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) all humans and animals — except for some insects and protozoans — have this system in their bodies. Better yet, this system is the same among all species and controls critical functions of the brain, endocrine, and immune systems. It also contains cannabinoid receptors that interact with plant-based cannabinoids such as CBD (5).
Since animals and humans have the same endocannabinoid system, with the same set of receptors, it’s proof as to why the dogs in the above study could benefit from CBD oil without experiencing adverse reactions.
CBD Products for Cats with Cancer
CBD is available in many different forms, but when it comes to cats, there are four product types the owners typically use. These include:
CBD oil is the most popular method to give CBD oil to cats with cancer. When people talk about CBD oil for cats, this typically means using sublingual drops to help relieve symptoms.
CBD oil for cats is administered with a dropper, which is easily applied in the mouth. Cats that don’t fancy the flavor of natural CBD oil can take a flavored version. Bacon is the signature flavor of the majority of CBD pet oils.
Encapsulated CBD is a decent alternative for use in cats with cancer as they contain a fixed portion of CBD in each pill. You can give your cat CBD this way once or twice a day, depending on the recommendation from your vet.
CBD capsules for cats may contain 5 to 20 mg of CBD, so it’s best to consult an experienced doctor before you experiment with different dosages. You can mask these pills in pet food for easier administration.
CBD Cat Treats
CBD cat treats are an almost-surefire way to familiarize your cat with cannabidiol. They are similar to capsules, meaning each treat contains a premeasured dose of CBD, but the joy of consumption is incomparably greater. CBD cat treats are just regular cat treats that have been infused with cannabidiol. But unlike most of the commercially available treats, those containing CBD are often made with healthy ingredients.
Topical products for cats with cancer can be used to reduce pain and swelling in the affected area or to improve joint mobility. Dosing is more difficult than with oils and capsules because it depends on how much cream or salve you take from the container. However, you can apply the topical to your cat for localized relief on top of supplementing CBD in the form of oil or oral products.
How CBD Oil Can Treat Cancer in Cats
Several clinical studies suggest that CBD can reduce the size of tumors and stop their spread in cats. Here’s what you need to know:
CBD Can Promote the Death of Cancer Cells
Researchers in a 2011 study carried out a series of tests aimed at figuring out how CBD would interact with breast cancer cells. Although the study was performed in vivo — meaning that it involved using a test tube or sample dish instead of a living organism — the results were promising.
The scientists learned that CBD could help trigger the programmed death of the cancer cells while saving the healthy cells from damage. The exact mechanism behind this interaction remains unclear, but the cannabinoid was able to help remove damaged tissues and cause cancer cells to die (6).
Since cancer is marked by the abnormal growth of malignant cells, this study indicates the need for further research regarding the influence of CBD on cell growth.
CBD Might Reduce the Size of Tumors
A similar study was published in the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in the same year; it examined how CBD affects cancerous cells in the breast. The study was carried out on mice.
The researchers found that CBD helped slow down the growth of breast cancer cells in the subjects. Moreover, they also discovered that it could inhibit metastasis (the spread) of secondary malignant growth (7).
In a 2003 study, scientists discovered the presence of cannabinoid receptors in healthy and cancerous skin cells of mice. The researchers activated the ECS with cannabinoids to target these receptors. As they concluded, cannabinoids were able to cause cell death while helping reduce the growth of skin cancer (8).
Several studies highlighted CBD’s ability to stop angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the process that enables the growth of cancerous tumors by developing new blood vessels.
CBD for the Side Effects of Cancer in Cats
Although CBD oil isn’t an approved treatment for cats with cancer, it can provide relief to many of the side effects of the disease as well as the ones deriving from conventional cancer treatment.
Cancer in cats can be treated via surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. While it’s great to have these options, they have a lot of dangerous side effects, especially in the long run.
Below we discuss these side effects and explain how CBD oil can help relieve them:
Tumors that spread throughout a cat’s body can cause persistent pain. Therapies such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery can also lead to problems with pain management.
Doctors typically prescribe tramadol — a synthetic analgesic — to cats with cancer. However, its effectiveness is often below expectations when it comes to traumatic pain due to its non-opioid mechanism.
In a 2018 study conducted on dogs with osteoarthritis, the research team gave CBD oil to the subjects to test the painkilling effect and the safety of canines. The conclusion was that the dogs had significantly less pain after the CBD treatment and showed increased physical activity (9).
This clinical study also reported that there were no dangerous side effects observed, even though CBD was administered in dosages around 2 mg per kilo of body weight twice a day for 4 weeks.
Cancer in cats can start with squamous cell carcinoma, which is a small patch of sore skin. If it doesn’t heal, it could be an indicator that cancerous cells are forming in the body. Inflammation of the skin is one of the most common markers of squamous cell carcinoma in felines.
CBD and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant have strong anti-inflammatory properties according to research from the 2000s. This study investigated cannabinoid efficacy in mice with collagen-induced arthritis and showed that they were able to improve inflammation markers in the subject.
In a follow-up experiment in 2004, researchers administered a novel synthetic cannabinoid acid on mice with arthritis. The compound was found to suppress the activity of inflammatory cells, reducing the body’s immune response while also producing pro-inflammatory mediators. The authors of the study suggested that cannabinoids can be novel anti-inflammatory products (10).
Nausea and Vomiting
Cats that have undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy to control the growth of cancer often experience nausea. The said treatments can damage cells that occur in the lining of the intestines and stomach of the cat — resulting in nausea and vomiting.
There are encouraging studies pointing to anti-emetic (acting against nausea) properties of CBD. This could be due to the interaction between CBD and the endocannabinoid system in animals, which controls digestive functions.
In a 2011 study, the authors have demonstrated the anti-emetic effects of cannabinoids in the bodies of a wide variety of animals. Additional evidence also suggests that CBD may be useful in easing chemotherapy-induced nausea (11).
Since CBD is a plant-based cannabinoid, it can engage with the ECS of cats after they are treated with chemotherapy to ease their gastrointestinal discomfort.
What Causes Cancer in Cats?
A cat can get cancer for several reasons. Here we cover the most common causes of feline cancer.
Aging is one of the major causes of cancer in cats. This process can stimulate cancer growth in several ways.
According to one theory, the mutation of cancer cells reproduces over the years, which increases the risk of cancerous cell division. Another suspected reason is the degeneration of the mammalian body.
For example, if chronic inflammation in cats is untreated, it can damage DNA and compromise the immune system, impairing its ability to identify and eliminate harmful cells.
There are certain chemicals in food and the environment that can cause mutations in the genes that eventually become endangered with tumor growth. Cats can be exposed to the same cancerous agents as humans are, including second-hand tobacco smoke, x-ray radiation, benzene, asbestos, or preservatives and pro-inflammatory compounds in food.
Fibrosarcoma is the predominant cancer in cats that is caused by a mix of environmental and genetic triggers. Although it doesn’t have a specific cause, most cats with fibrosarcoma developed cancer at a prior injection area on their bodies.
Intact Reproductive Organs
If a cat hasn’t been neutered or spayed, they are at risk of developing cancer in their bodies. Spaying a female cat reduces the possibility of breast and ovarian cancer to zero while neutering males decreases the risk of prostate cancer.
Spayed and neutered pets have also been shown to live longer and healthier lives than those that haven’t undergone this procedure.
Is CBD Safe for Cats?
As mentioned, CBD is safe for both humans and animals. However, it has a few possible side effects pet owners should be prepared for when giving CBD oil to their friends for the first time.
Although studies showed that CBD didn’t have a negative impact on subjects during the trials, every cat can respond differently, and there’s always a risk of going overboard.
Improper use of CBD oil can increase the probability of these events, so if you notice negative changes in your cat’s behavior, such as dizziness, coordination issues, disorientation, or upset stomach, consult a veterinarian to optimize their CBD dosage.
The most common side effect of CBD consumption is drowsiness, which results from a temporary drop in blood pressure. Dosing CBD oil to pets requires more precision than with humans, as even large dogs are at least half the size of their owners.
Final Thoughts on Giving CBD to Cats with Cancer
Cancer is more common in dogs than in cats, but the symptoms can be as debilitating for felines as they are for their bigger buddies. Some of the signs of cancer include chronic pain, inflammation, lumps that change the size and get bigger, loss of appetite, lameness, and unexplained bleeding.
On top of treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery, there are many different medications out there that can ease the symptoms of cancer in cats. However, most of them only bring short-term relief — and often include dangerous side effects.
Many pet owners are turning to high-quality CBD oils to help ease the pain, inflammation, loss of appetite, and lethargy in pets who have undergone the aforementioned treatments.
Preliminary studies on CBD in pets show promising results. CBD has demonstrated multiple anti-cancer properties, including the ability to cause programmed cancer cell death, stop the spread and reduce the size of tumors, and curb chronic inflammation, which is the underlying cause of many types of cancer.
However, we still need more longitudinal studies on felines to accurately verify the efficacy of CBD oil on cats with cancer. We encourage you to consult a veterinarian experienced in cannabis if you want to incorporate CBD into your cat’s routine to ease the symptoms and side-effects of cancer.
- Shrivastava A, Kuzontkoski PM, Groopman JE, Prasad A. Cannabidiol induces programmed cell death in breast cancer cells by coordinating the cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy. Mol Cancer Ther. 2011 Jul;10(7):1161-72. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-1100. Epub 2011 May 12.
- McAllister SD, Murase R, Christian RT, Lau D, Zielinski AJ, Allison J, Almanza C, Pakdel A, Lee J, Limbad C, Liu Y, Debs RJ, Moore DH, Desprez PY. Pathways mediating the effects of cannabidiol on the reduction of breast cancer cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Aug;129(1):37-47. doi: 10.1007/s10549-010-1177-4. Epub 2010 Sep 22.
- Casanova ML, Blázquez C, Martínez-Palacio J, Villanueva C, Fernández-Aceñero MJ, Huffman JW, Jorcano JL, Guzmán M. Inhibition of skin tumor growth and angiogenesis in vivo by activation of cannabinoid receptors. J Clin Invest. 2003 Jan;111(1):43-50.
- Gamble LJ, Boesch J., Frye C., Schwark W., Mann S., Wolfe L., Brown H., Berthelsen E., Wakshlag J. (2018, July 23). Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. DOI=10.3389/fvets.2018.00165
- Silver RJ. The Endocannabinoid System of Animals. Animals (Basel). 2019;9(9):686. Published 2019 Sep 16. doi:10.3390/ani9090686
- Shrivastava A. et al. op. cit.
- McAllister SD. et al. op. cit.
- Casanova ML. et al. op. cit.
- Gamble LJ. et al. op. cit.
- Sumariwalla PF, Gallily R, Tchilibon S, Fride E, Mechoulam R, Feldmann M. A novel synthetic, nonpsychoactive cannabinoid acid (HU-320) with antiinflammatory properties in murine collagen-induced arthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Mar;50(3):985-98.
- Parker LA, Rock EM, Limebeer CL. Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids. Br J Pharmacol. 2011;163(7):1411‐1422. doi:10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.01176.x