For cat owners, there are few things scarier than watching their beloved cats experiencing seizure episodes. Considering seizures affect 1-3% of the feline population and are one of the most common nervous system disorders in cats, the importance of prevention and management are vital. 

Studies conducted in mammals (humans, dogs, mice) with similarly working endocannabinoid systems (ECS) purport the benefits of using CBD oil for cat seizures and epilepsy management. 

Although there are conventional antiepileptic and anticonvulsant treatments for cats, they are frequently associated with side effects. Contrary, CBD oil for cats is less likely to cause side effects and even if they occur, they are mild and easily manageable. 

As the body of information supporting the use of CBD oils grows and veterinarians are more open to discussing the idea with their clients, more and more cat owners are adding CBD products on their cats’ menus. 

What is a Seizure? 

A seizure can be defined as a sudden and uncontrolled electrical brain activity accompanied by involuntary muscle movement. On the other hand, epilepsy can be defined as a condition that manifests with repeated seizure episodes. 

Usually, it takes at least two unprovoked episodes for the epilepsy diagnosis to be set. The episodes can occur unpredictably and randomly or in regular intervals. 

What Causes Seizures in Cats?

Before discussing what causes seizures in cats it should be noted that the exact underlying cause cannot always be pinpointed.

Exposure to Toxins

Many natural and artificial toxins can trigger seizure episodes in cats. The list includes:

  • Ethylene glycol (antifreeze), chocolate, xylitol (artificial sweetener)

  • Pesticides

  • Pyrethrin-based anti-flea treatments for dogs

  • Certain human medications (antidepressants, ADHD medicines)

Head Trauma

Severe head traumas like car hits and tree fallings are sometimes followed by episodes. Head trauma is not always associated with physical insults. Tumors, parasites, and infections can also trigger brain damage followed with episodes.

Systemic Conditions

Health issues outside the brain can also be linked with seizure episodes in cats. Common triggers include untreated hypertensions, hypoglycemia, kidney and liver disease.

Noise-Induced Seizures

Cats are particularly sensitive to specific sounds. Same as some people, cats cannot stand the metal clinking on another metal, aluminum foil crinkling, pulling Velcro apart and glass tapping. The seizure episodes triggered by these sounds are called “audiogenic reflex” seizures.

Epilepsy

Seizure episodes are the main symptom of epilepsy. They can occur as single episodes or in clusters. However, the underlying cause of epilepsy is not determined.

Idiopathic Epilepsy

Idiopathic epilepsy is an inherited condition that usually affects dogs and is mainly a concern for dog owners. However, cat people should be aware of its existence as it can rarely occur in cats too. 

Types of Seizures in Cats

There are two main seizure types:

  • Generalized 

  • Focal

Generalized affect the entire body and are caused by unusual electrical activity in the cerebral cortex. The focal type, also known as a partial seizure, affects specific body parts caused by abnormal electrical activity in the cerebral cortex's particular areas.

In cats, there are two main types of epileptic seizures:

  • Petit mal 

  • Grand mal

Petit mal seizure episodes are not associated with the characteristic convulsions. Instead, the cat suddenly loses consciousness and collapses. Prior to collapsing, abnormal vocalization and unusual behaviors are possible. 

Grand mal seizure episodes manifest with muscle convulsions. Cats fall on the side and experience muscle convulsions of different intensity. 

Symptoms like paddling, limb rigidity, loss of consciousness, unusual vocalization and lack of bladder and bowel control are possible. 

The grand mal type is much more frequently reported than the petit mal type.

The good news is neither type is associated with pain. However, both types will trigger confusion and disorientation once the episode is over.   

What Happens During a Seizure?

Several symptoms can be seen as warning signs a seizure is about to occur. Knowing those symptoms and understanding what happens during an episode is important in terms of providing proper help and support. 

Preictal (aura) State

The preictal (aura) phase occurs moments before the actual seizure and it lasts several seconds. It is manifested with pacing, circle walking, yowling, and sometimes vomiting.

Some cats seek out their owners while others hide. All in all, pet owners report their cats act nervously just before the actual seizure.                                     

Seizure Phase

Cats fall on their side and the characteristic twitching, shaking and convulsing begins. Additional symptoms like feet paddling, jaw snapping, urinating, and defecating are possible but not necessarily present. 

This phase lasts between one and two minutes. If it lasts more than five minutes, seek immediate veterinary attention as there is a significant risk of permanent brain damage and death. 

Postictal State

The postictal state occurs just after the seizure. Temporary paralysis and extreme confusion and orientation are expected in this phase. Cat people often say it seemed like their cats lost their vision. This is normal and occurs due to the confusion. 

CBD Oil for Cat Seizures

CBD oils help maintain normal nervous system function by promoting normal healthy brain activity and supporting normal nerve conduction and memory recall.

In terms of seizure management, a showed that CBD has potent antiepileptic and anticonvulsant properties. In 2017, a comparing the anticonvulsant effects of CBD and THC discovered that CBD has a more defined anticonvulsant profile in animals.  

In 2019, a group of researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine demonstrated the CBD’s role in in mice with Angelman syndrome. The cannabidiol (CBD) may work similarly in cats with epilepsy. 

How CBD Works to Help With Seizures in Cats

Hemp CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (a system of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors) – ECS, thus regulating many body functions and maintaining a state of health. 

More specifically, CBD exerts its effects by binding with the cannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are scattered in several peripheral organs.  

Hemp CBD oil has two antiepileptic compounds – cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidivarin (CBDV). Cannabidiol and Cannabidivarin affect TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid 1) – a pain receptor located in brain areas linked with epileptic activities.  

Based on current information, the working theory is that cannabidiol and cannabidivarin can prevent epileptic seizures by inhibiting the TRPV1 located in the hippocampus. 

How CBD Compares to Alternative Treatments for Cat Seizures 

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that when it comes to epileptic seizures, we lack vital information. For that reason, most of the conclusions and suggestions are extrapolated from research conducted in people or experimental animals. 

For example, the British Journal of Nutrition published a study showing the positive effect of keto-diets (high-fat, low-carbohydrate content) for managing dog seizures and epilepsy. It is postulated that the concept applies to cats too. 

Passion flower, skullcap, and ginger all have anticonvulsant properties that we can use to manage epilepsy in dogs and cats. Although these studies were conducted on mice, the endocannabinoid system works similarly in all mammals. 

CBD as a plant hemp extract is another herbal remedy with antiepileptic and anticonvulsant features. In fact, CBD is the most frequently used herbal medicine for managing epilepsy.  

Today, there are CBD oils enriched with extracts from passion flowers, ginger, and skullcap to achieve better results. 

CBD Oil for Cats: A Holistic Anti-Seizure Treatment 

Consult Your Veterinarian 

It cannot be emphasized enough how important is the collaboration between pet owners and veterinarians. Not just when it comes to CBD supplements but in general. 

CBD oil for cats is linked with several side effects, but certain medications' delayed breakdown is the most important one. Therefore, if your kitty is on long-term medications due to another non-related condition, your veterinarian must approve the use of CBD oil in the first place.

Suppose your beloved feline can use CBD. In that case, the veterinarian will guide you through the process – help you choose the ideal CBD product, instruct you in dosing and administration, and monitor your kitty’s response to the new treatment.

CBD Oil Dosage for Cat Seizures 

The amount of CBD for cats depends on several factors, including the cat’s weight, overall health, age, diet, and lifestyle. Sadly, in cats and dogs, there is not one recommended CBD oil dose.  

Different brands have different dosing guidelines, and most give dose ranges instead of actual, precise doses. Based on general guidelines, since cats are all the same weight, it's always the same dosage recommendation. 1 dropper a day, from a 125mg potency, which translates to 4mg of CBD a day.

As mentioned, body weight is not the only determining factor when dosing CBD products for cats. Therefore, it is best advised to consult with your trusted veterinarian before using CBD supplements.

As a general rule of thumb, the veterinarian will recommend starting with a lower dose and waiting for a positive reaction. When it comes to epileptic episodes, a positive reaction would mean fewer and lesser episodes. If the cat does not show a positive reaction, you can gradually increase the dose.

On the flip side, if the dose not only manages but the seizure episodes but also triggers side effects, it can be slightly decreased.

All in all, finding the correct dose of CBD oil for cat seizures takes a little bit of experimenting and frequent consults with your trusted vet. 

How to Administer CBD Oil

There are different CBD pet products, and the exact administrating method depends on the type of CBD product you choose. 

For example, if you use CBD oils, you can mix them with the food and serve them during mealtime. Alternatively, the oil products can be administered sublingually (dropped under the tongue) or rubbed onto the kitty’s gums.

Unlike dogs, cats are fussy eaters, and these options are not always easy to implement. Luckily, there are CBD oil treats. You can sprinkle the treat on top of a juicy and nice-smelling food (tuna juice will mask the CBD’s characteristic smell). Treats are reasonably easy to administer; you just need to offer them.

CBD topicals (balms and salves) can be rubbed into the skin from where they will be absorbed. It is advisable to pat them on bare skin – preferably, the ear flaps’ inside. They can also be placed on the paws, and that way, cats will have to lick them.

Finally, you can massage cats with CBD-infused products.

How Long Does CBD Take to Work?

Based on CBD pet product type and administration route, it usually takes between 15 and 45 minutes for the CBD to work. However, when using CBD oil for cat seizures, it usually takes a few days before improvements become apparent. 

The CBD oil’s effects on epiletic seizures are gradual and slow. Talk to your veterinarian is you suspect there is a reason your kitty is not responding to the treatment as fast as expected. 

Our Final Thoughts  

Luckily, you can manage epilepsy and seizure episodes in cats. In addition to standard treatments, cat owners can now rest assured that there is another way of managing these issues. CBD oil for cat seizures is precisely that – a natural solution. 

Newer research and anecdotal reports suggest the CBD oil for cat seizures is beneficial for two main reasons – it decreases the frequency of seizures and the intensity of each seizure episode.

With that being said, more and more veterinarians and professionals from the veterinary medicine field are supporting the use of CBD products for managing seizures and many other conditions in cats and dogs. 

The United States Food and Drug Administration approved one CBD medication for managing seizures in humans. Perhaps soon, there will be a CBD medication registered for use in the field of veterinary medicine. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you give a cat for seizures?

The standard treatment of choice is an anticonvulsant drug called phenobarbitone. Depending on the severity and frequency of the episodes, sometimes the vet will prescribe another medication.

Recently, the use of these drugs is shadowed by CBD oil for cat seizures and its association with successful management and fewer side effects than regular treatments.

Is CBD oil safe for cats?

Yes, when used adequately, following the manufacturers’ directions, and under your vet’s recommendations, CBD oil is perfectly safe for cats. As with any other medicine, alternative or conventional, side effects are possible. However, they rarely occur and can be easily managed.

What is a natural remedy for seizures in cats?

There are several natural remedies, including diet changes; herbal remedies derived from passion flower, ginger, and skullcap and CBD pet products.   

How can I give my cat CBD oil?

There are several different options, if you use CBD oil tinctures you can apply them under your kitty’s tongue, rub them into the gums with your finger, or add them in your cat’s regular meal. CBD oil treats must be given orally. Finally, if using topicals you can rub them on your kitty’s bear skin inside its ears.

Will CBD oil make my kitty “high”?

No, CBD oil for dogs and cats is made of the hemp plant, and hemp plants, unlike marijuana plants, do not contain THC (THC is the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high” feeling). Therefore CBD products for cats are labeled as THC-free.