The worst nightmare for any cat owner is to see their cat in pain. While one can do their best to protect their cat from pain and disease, it is sometimes out of their control. Some diseases and health conditions will develop with no discernible cause. One of those diseases is Kidney Disease, a condition that negatively affects normal kidney function. 

Kidney issues in cats are a common complication, especially in older cats. Even though the disease is common among felines, a single best treatment has not been developed.

Most of the common forms of treatment aim to treat the signs and symptoms, not the underlying disease. Every cat owner and vet has a unique way of handling kidney disease in cats. Some completely rely on medication, others rely on nutritional intervention and some even try alternative medicine. 

An increasingly popular treatment option for kidney disease is CBD oil. After its legalization across the United States, the use of CBD oil for different conditions for both humans and pets has grown tremendously in the past few years.

With the research on CBD for kidney failure and other health conditions being in its early stages, some cat owners may have doubts about its efficacy. In this article, you will learn how to get the best out of CBD oil for your cat

What is Kidney Disease in Cats and What Causes it?

CBD Oil For Cats With Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a term used to describe a condition in which the normal functioning of the kidneys is compromised. It is also sometimes referred to as kidney failure. 

Kidneys play several important functions in the body some of which include:

  • Balancing electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride

  • Maintaining hydration 

  • Removal of wastes like urea

  • Synthesis of hormones 

In the event of kidney failure in a cat, some or all of these functions are compromised.

Types of kidney disease

There are two main types of kidney disease classified according to how long the kidney disease takes to develop in the cat. 

Acute Kidney Disease 

Acute kidney disease develops in a relatively short period of time. It may take days or weeks to develop. This type of kidney disease can occur in cats of all ages and is usually onset by a sudden event.

Some of the causes of acute kidney disease include poisoning, physical injury to the kidneys, and severe dehydration. Acute kidney disease is often easier to treat if discovered in time. 

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease, on the other hand, develops over long periods of time ranging from one year to life. It is more common in older cats and usually more difficult to treat. The cause of chronic kidney disease is hard to determine since it develops over a long period. 

The goal in the treatment of chronic kidney disease is to treat the signs and symptoms since the disease itself is difficult to cure. Some of the common causes of chronic kidney disease in cats include high blood pressure, kidney infections, and poor nutrition. 

Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Cats

cat vet appointment
  • Frequent urination. Given that urine production is the primary role of kidneys, urine production is very likely to be compromised when the kidneys are failing. 

  • Increased thirst. This is a result of increased water loss that results from increased urination. 

  • Weight loss. Like any disease, kidney failure may cause appetite loss which will result in a reduction in body weight if not remedied.

  • Vomiting. Your cat may start vomiting especially after meals. This can also result in weight loss in the long run.

  • Change in sleeping pattern. Kidney disease will cause a decrease in energy levels which may cause your cat to sleep for longer hours. 

  • Lethargy. Cats with kidney disease especially in the later stages tend to become weaker. You may notice a reduced interest in playing and an increase in downtime. 

  • Bloody urine. If kidney disease is left untreated or progresses to more advanced stages, it may cause wounds in the urinary tract. These wounds may start to bleed causing blood spots in urine.

  • Enlarged and tender abdomen. Disease or injury to the kidneys may strain them causing them to swell. This swelling is usually painful on compression. 

  • Frequent bacterial infections. As the kidneys weaken, the urinotract becomes more prone to attacks from bacteria and other pathogens resulting in increased frequency and severity of infections. 

What is CBD? 

what is CBD oil

CBD or cannabidiol is a compound extracted from the Cannabis Sativa plant. While CBD and Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) (the compound in marijuana that makes one ‘high’) are both cannabis products, they have different effects on the body.

Both compounds have been found to have positive health benefits. However, CBD is of particular interest as it does not elicit a psychoactive reaction like THC.

How CBD Oil Works to Help Cats with Kidney Disease 

Even though the research on CBD is still in its infancy, anecdotal experiences by cat owners have demonstrated that CBD oil may have a positive impact on the progression of kidney disease in cats. Many cat owners have reported that CBD oil was instrumental in relieving cats of kidney disease symptoms such as vomiting, lack of appetite, pain, and anxiety. 

To understand exactly how CBD oil works, we must first understand the system through which it exerts its effects, the Endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The Endocannabinoid System is a system present in vertebrates that is composed of endocannabinoids, a group of neurotransmitters that affect many biological processes. Some of the biological processes influenced by the ECS include mood, fertility, pain, anxiety, digestive function, and general health and well-being.

The ECS also contains receptors to which the endocannabinoids attach. Receptors are points in the body to which a chemical such as CBD attaches to exert its effects. Of all the different types of receptors in the system, two have been studied extensively; CB1 and CB2 receptors. 

It is by acting on these receptors that CBD may be able to relieve signs and symptoms of kidney disease. Some of the signs and symptoms CBD may be able to have an effect on include;

Appetite Loss

CBD oil could help improve appetite in cats with kidney disease. The system that regulates hunger in the body is affected by the ECS. Research has shown that the body releases endocannabinoids in an attempt to increase appetite.

Administering CBD would have a similar effect, therefore, causing an increase in appetite. CBD oil also affects sensory perception in other words how food tastes to your cat. For example, CBD enhances the sweetness of sweet food. The enhancement of the flavor of food may result in increased food intake. 

Anxiety and Mood

The role of CBD in anxiety is one of the most well-studied areas of the cannabinoid. CBD is believed to have a positive effect on anxiety levels and mood. One of the proposed ways in which CBD may reduce anxiety is through acting on a serotonin receptor known as the 5-HT-1 receptor.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter whose role in mood and cognitive function is well-documented. By acting on the same receptor as serotonin, CBD may help alleviate anxiety and improve mood in cats. 

Immunity 

The second type of cannabinoid receptor, CB2 is found in the immune system. When a cannabinoid such as CBD acts on these receptors, it may result in improved immune function.

The research on CBD and immunity is not as concrete as that on its role in anxiety. However, it is suggested that CBD may support immune function through the activation of enzymes in disease-fighting cells such as macrophages.

Pain 

This is another highly promising area of CBD oil. CBD may help reduce pain through suppression of nerve activity in areas of pain.  

Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats with Kidney Disease?

Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats with Kidney Disease

CBD is generally safe for both humans and pets. Not only is CBD safe for consumption but it may also provide health benefits. 

However, not all CBD products are created equal. To ensure the safety of your cat, choose CBD products from a reputable brand that makes high-quality pet products.

Check out this guide on how to choose the best CBD products for your cat.

Side Effects of CBD Oil in Cats

While CBD oil is generally safe for cats, some may experience negative effects after use. Some of these effects include;

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Dizziness

  • Increased agitation 

If your cat experiences any negative reactions to CBD oil, pause the treatment and consult your vet on how to proceed. Similarly, if there is no improvement in your cat’s condition, consult your vet.

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Kidney Disease Treatments for Cats

How effective CBD is in comparison to other treatments will depend on the individual cat. It is difficult to say which therapy is best because different cats respond differently to a treatment. Besides, many of the therapies are used in combination to give the best result. 

CBD, however, has the advantage of being non-invasive and easier to administer in comparison to other interventions like surgery and injectable drugs.

Creating a Holistic Treatment Plan

To increase the odds of success of your cat’s treatment, it is best to create a treatment plan to follow. Your vet will help you decide what treatment plan is best for you and your cat. This is why the first step to any successful treatment plan is to talk to your vet. 

Talk to Your Vet

The first step to starting any new form of treatment for your cat is to speak to your vet. Your vet should be able to give you guidance on how to proceed with the treatment plan. He/she will guide you on the different aspects of CBD therapy such as brand, dosage, and method of administration. 

CBD Oil Dosage for Cats with Kidney Disease 

Since CBD is not a certified treatment for kidney disease, there are no official dosages for effective treatment. The CBD product you choose will most likely have instructions on what dosage is best for your cat. If so, follow package instructions. 

For example, for our CBD oils at Honest Paws, the recommended dosage for a cat is 1 dropper a day, from a 125mg potency, which translates to 4mg of CBD a day.

If the CBD does not provide instructions on the dosage, ask your vet to make a recommendation on how much CBD to administer. 

Pay extra attention to your cat’s CBD dose as it is possible to reach CBD toxicity

How to Administer CBD Oil for Cats

Like most forms of medication, CBD oil is best administered in small regular doses. Again, your CBD product of choice should have directions on how to administer CBD but if there are none, consult your vet. Most products recommend giving CBD every 8 to 24 hours. 

The method of administration will depend on what form the CBD is in. If you are to use oil, adding it to cat treats is one of the most effective ways to administer it.

This method may be a challenge if your cat is vomiting. To remedy this, you can also use a dropper to administer the oil under the tongue. 

You may need to make changes to your treatment plan if the current one is not effective. A change may also be required if your cat responds negatively to a plan. 

Our Final Thoughts

cat looking out window with owner

If you have been looking to add CBD to your cat’s treatment plan, go ahead and give it a try. Several cat owners have used and continue to use CBD to improve their cats’ quality of life. CBD is relatively harmless to try and the potential benefits are completely worth the effort. 

Remember that CBD has not been approved for the treatment of any disease or health issues by the Food and Drug Administration. For this reason, CBD oil and CBD supplements do not qualify as sole treatments for any disease or condition.

Do not replace your cat’s medication with CBD or CBD products. If suitable for your cat, CBD oil is intended to be used in combination with other forms of treatment. 

Always consult your vet before using CBD oil therapy for your cat with kidney disease. 

It is important to note that there is a distinction between CBD and hemp oil. Even though they are from the same plant, hemp oil is not safe for cats.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does CBD oil damage kidneys?

No, CBD does not cause damage to the kidneys.

How quickly does CBD oil work in cats?

How your cat responds to CBD oil will depend on factors such as the severity of the symptoms, the dose of the CBD, and the quality of CBD oil.

However, you may see an improvement in your cat in as little as a day. Signs and symptoms in acute kidney disease will resolve much faster than in chronic kidney disease.

Can you give human CBD oil to cats?

Yes, you can give human CBD to cats. However, keep in mind that your doses may be much larger than what the cat needs. 

What should you do for a cat with kidney disease?

Currently, there is no known cure for kidney disease, particularly chronic kidney disease. However, there are treatments that can ease the signs and symptoms of the disease. Some of the therapies your vet might recommend for your cat include a kidney diet, fluid therapy, and sometimes surgery. 

Does CBD work for kidney disease in cats?

Anecdotal reports show that CBD may be able to alleviate signs and symptoms of kidney disease for example pain and anxiety.