Cats and Weed: Is THC Safe for Your Feline Friend?

weed and cats
By Halla Mannering Updated March 8th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

If you have pet cats, then you understand just how important it is to ensure that unsafe substances are kept out of reach. If you have cannabis around the house or your vet has prescribed CBD for your furry friend, then you may be wondering if THC is safe for your pet. Even though it might not seem like a big deal, it’s essential to know just how THC can affect your furry companion, so that you can respond appropriately if your cat consumes weed.

While cannabis is generally considered safe for people to use, cats are not the same as humans, biologically, and there are serious concerns should a cat consume THC. Knowing how THC affects cats can help you spot the signs of consumption and take the appropriate steps in a timely manner to keep your pet safe. As always, it’s important to follow the advice of your veterinarian when giving your pet any substance.

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Cats and Weed: Is Cannabis Bad for Cats?

Can cats eat weed?

No, cats shouldn't eat weed. Cannabis is considered toxic to cats, and it can present a variety of concerning symptoms when consumed. 

Humans have cannabinoid receptors that allow us to get a variety of benefits from cannabis. Interestingly, cats also have cannabinoid receptors, but this doesn’t mean that they get the same benefits from THC that humans do. In fact, cats have a higher amount of CB1 cannabinoid receptors than humans do, which means cannabis has a greater impact on them.

While cannabis products with THC in them are toxic for cats, CBD is different. 

CBD can be safe for cats when the right dosage is taken, but it’s recommended that your veterinarian provide a recommendation before giving your cat CBD. It’s important to think about your cat’s age and weight when giving them CBD, so consider reaching out to an animal professional and getting their opinion before you give your cat a new product.

If you’ve ever given your cat catnip, you probably saw some effects that are similar to cannabis use in humans. While cannabis and catnip may seem similar, they’re entirely different plants. Catnip can be safe when the right amount is given, but no matter how much your feline friend likes catnip, cats and weed are never considered to be a safe combination.

How Does Weed Affect Cats?

weed and cats

Did you know that 96%1 of animal cannabis consumption occurs in dogs, with cats being responsible for only 3%? While this number may seem low, that doesn’t mean that it’s safe for cats to eat weed or inhale cannabis smoke.

How cannabis affects a cat can depend on a variety of factors, including their weight and the dosage they consumed, as well as whether it was ingested or inhaled. Yes, you read that right. Even inhaling cannabis smoke could potentially impact your cat. 

If you’ve ever tried cannabis, you may remember feeling calm and relaxed. This is often the opposite of a cat’s reaction. Instead, cats can become anxious and fearful, unsure of what they’re feeling and if they’re safe. 

Another important thing to note is that it can take up to five days for the majority of the cannabis to leave a cat’s system. This is important to keep in mind, especially when determining if it’s time to seek emergency medical care for your cat.

What are the Signs of Marijuana Toxicity in Cats?

cats and marijuana

If you have cannabis in your house, it’s important to not only know the signs of cannabis toxicity but also have a general understanding of your cat’s typical behavior. Being able to watch for the following signs could end up saving your cat’s life.

One of the biggest things that will determine a cat’s reaction is the dose that they consumed.

Symptoms of lower doses of cannabis consumption in cats may include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils

In more severe cases where higher amounts of cannabis were consumed, symptoms can include:

  • Coma
  • Seizure
  • Death

While the symptoms associated with small doses may not be as severe as higher quantities of THC, that doesn’t mean that small amounts are safe. In fact, even small doses of THC can be extremely dangerous for cats, especially if they have a lower body weight. Cats have more severe reactions to cannabis than humans do, so what might seem like a small dose to you can be massive to them.

When it comes to cats and THC, it’s always best to make sure your cannabis is kept in a secure place where your pets cannot reach it. If you think that your cat has consumed any amount of cannabis, it’s best to reach out to your vet and get personalized guidance. Your vet may be able to help with symptom management, so don’t hesitate to share your concerns with them.

What Cannabis Products Are Toxic for Cats?

cats and cannabis

In general, it’s best to only give your cat CBD products (not THC), and only do so under the guidance of a veterinarian. It’s important to only use lab-tested products with no THC content, so you can be sure that it’s safe for pet consumption. Here are some different types of cannabis products and whether or not they’re safe for cats:

  • Flower: Cannabis flower contains THC, meaning it’s never safe for cats to consume.
  • Edibles: Similar to flower, edibles are an unsafe option if they have THC. Many edibles also have added ingredients that may not be safe for felines. If you think your cat has consumed edibles, immediately start watching for the signs of cannabis toxicity and reach out to your vet. There are some CBD edible options that can be safe, but it’s best to stick to CBD products specifically designed for cats and approved by your veterinarian.
  • Smoke: While smoking near your cat may not be the most “dangerous” method of exposure, it’s still not recommended. Blowing smoke into your cat’s face is not only mean (you wouldn’t do it to a guest in your house), it could lead to negative effects, so it’s best to smoke away from your feline friends.
  • Vape Oil: While CBD vape oil may be safer than THC, it’s still not recommended for cats to consume, especially because your cat may be able to consume large amounts of the oil. It’s always best to keep it in a safe place and make sure that your cat doesn’t have access.
  • Concentrates: THC concentrates are not only dangerous for cats, but they can also cause some of the most severe reactions. If you think your cat has consumed concentrate, reach out to your vet immediately.
  • Cannabutter: Are you a canna chef? You may need to take extra precautions in the kitchen if you have cats. THC cannabutter is not safe for cats.
  • Cannabis Sugar: Cannabis sugar can be tempting for cats, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe. Cannabis sugar can lead to toxicity in pets, so keep it away from your cats.
  • RSO: The RSO and cat combination can be wrapped up in one word: unsafe. In fact, it’s very, very unsafe. If your cat consumed RSO, get them to the vet immediately.

What To Do if Your Cat Consumes THC

cats and thc

Disclaimer: The following information is not intended to be medical advice. It’s always best to speak with your veterinarian if you’re concerned or seek emergency medical care.

If your cat has consumed THC, you may be wondering what you can do. If you’re seeing minor symptoms, like lethargy, it’s best to call your vet. They’ll most likely recommend you keep your cat at home and continue to monitor symptoms.

If your cat consumed a higher dose of THC, your vet will likely recommend that they get medical care. Depending on the specific symptoms your cat is experiencing, a vet can provide them with medicine and closely monitor their vital signs.

It’s important to have an understanding of your pet’s behavior so you can be aware of any changes that occur. If you have concerns or your pet is experiencing some of the previously mentioned symptoms, it’s recommended to speak to a vet. 

Cannabis Safety Tips for Cat Owners

thc and cats

If you’re a cannabis user with cats, there are a few different precautions you can take to protect your pet. Below are some safety measures to consider:

  • Properly store your cannabis in a container that’s inaccessible to your pet. Cannabis should be stored properly at all times, regardless of whether there are pets or children in the home. If you’re not sure how to store your cannabis properly, there are products you can buy that will give you peace of mind.
  • Understanding your cat’s behavior is important. When you know how your cat typically acts, you can be on the watch for concerning behaviors. If any of those behaviors arise, you can quickly reach out to your vet and then go from there.
  • Checking the litter box daily is another great way to get an understanding of your pet’s health and wellness. Noting any changes in behavior or use can give you a clue as to whether or not your pet may have consumed cannabis.
  • One of the most important things to do if you’re going to be smoking is to think about airflow. Make sure that you smoke in a location that is properly ventilated and aired out. Remember, even secondhand smoke can be dangerous to a cat, so never blow smoke in your cat’s face.
  • It’s important to have a deep understanding of what your current stash looks like so you can know if anything is missing. Being able to tell a vet what dosage your cat may have consumed can be incredibly helpful for their treatment, so make sure you’re aware of the products you currently have.

References

1.  Janeczek, Agnieszka, Marcin Zawadzki, Pawel Szpot, and Artur Niedzwiedz. 2018. “Marijuana Intoxication in a Cat.” Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica 60 (1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13028-018-0398-0.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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