Cats are an important part of our lives. We cherish their company and love. Unfortunately, sometimes cats can suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and, as a result, can cause a variety of uncomfortable or even debilitating symptoms. You may have heard of cat owners trying (CBD) cannabidiol. But what exactly is CBD, what does it do, and can you use it for IBS in cats?
What Is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a medical condition that is caused by chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) of mammals. It is the primary cause of GI tract issues in cats and is a fairly serious condition.
If left untreated, it can progress to full-blown irritable bowel disease (IBD). In some cases, the terms IBS and IBD are used interchangeably, although they are two separate diseases. IBD is the more serious of the two.
In general terms, IBS is basically a “sensitive stomach”. This means that your cat generally has a hard time digesting their food and has frequent, sickly bowel movements. It may also result in your kitty being a “fussy eater” as they may not have a healthy appetite due to their IBS.
Chronic, untreated IBS can result in a variety of other issues for cats. IBS is the digestive system malfunctioning, it means that the cat may not be properly absorbing nutrients from their food. This can lead to malnutrition for the cat. Malnutrition can lead to a whole variety of medical problems.
Furthermore, IBS can also result in a compromised immune system. Over half of your cat’s immune function is within their GI tract. A dysfunctional GI tract results in a weaker immune system.
What Causes IBS in Cats?
There are various causes of IBS in cats, with the most frequent being:
- Deficiencies in the myoelectrical activity of the colon (meaning that the cells in the colon are not functioning properly)
- Deficiencies in dietary fiber
- Chronic stress and/or agitation
- Food allergies (CBD helps with allergies) or dietary intolerances
- Disturbances in the neural regulation of the colon (meaning that the part of the nervous system that controls digestion is not functioning properly)
IBS is a general term for a broad condition, meaning that it is possible that the disorder is the result of a combination of the above causes. Again, taking your cat to a veterinarian will allow you to determine the cause of your cat’s IBS so that you may most effectively treat it.
Symptoms of IBS in Cats
IBS is prevalent in cats and can cause a variety of symptoms that can be very distressing for your pet. They include:
- Chronic large bowel diarrhea
- Frequent passage of small amounts of feces
- Blood and/or mucus in the feces
- Inflammation and discomfort in the mucous membranes of the bowels
- Dyschezia (a fancy word for constipation)
- Pain and/or bloating in the abdomen
- Chronic fatigue, weakness, and/or lethargy
- Chronic nausea and/or vomiting
These symptoms can range from mild to completely debilitating. It can also be a nightmare for a pet owner since the disease can cause the cat to have little control over their bowels. Therefore in many cases, they are not capable of making it to the litter box before defecating.
It has symptoms that are similar to a variety of other disorders, and can only be diagnosed once those are ruled out. These include:
- Intestinal worms (whipworms)
- Intestinal parasites (giardia, coccidia)
- Inflammatory colitis or ulcerative colitis
- A viral, fungal, and/or bacterial infection (pythiosis, histoplasmosis)
- Tumors in the stomach and/or colon (colonic neoplasia)
Once these other conditions have been ruled out, then your veterinarian can make an accurate diagnosis. That is why it is important to get your cat checked out if they exhibit any of the symptoms above.
What is CBD?
CBD oil is an extract derived from the cannabis plant. The types of plants they use to manufacture legal CBD specifically are industrial cannabis (more commonly known as hemp). Manufacturers produce CBD oil by using the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the hemp plant.
CBD has become one of the most innovative, promising, and exciting new developments. It is important to know, however, that CBD is not yet approved or meant to prevent, treat, or cure any ailments or diseases.
CBD is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are a group of compounds that may play an important role in the mammalian body. Their primary mode of action is binding to cannabinoid receptors located throughout your cat’s body.
These receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is present in the bodies of all mammals. This is important to know, because the ECS is responsible for regulating several key functions of the body.
The ECS may play a role in several functions including:
- Regulation of appetite
That being said, CBD may be a potent and powerful addition to your cat’s diet. It packs a punch while still being gentle on your kitty’s body.
Your cat may easily metabolize CBD and will generally experience little to no side effects. Furthermore, unlike other derivatives from the cannabis plant, CBD is not psychoactive. This simply means it will not make your cat high. While being high may be fun for some people, it generally results in agitation, confusion, or even aggression in your cat.
Treatment Options for IBS in Cats
The conventional treatments for IBS are mostly outpatient procedures. However, if the IBS progressed to such a point that your cat is severely dehydrated and/or malnourished, then they need to be admitted into a veterinarian clinic. Cats will typically be there for a few days while they nurse the felines back to an appropriate level of health. They will probably recommend a dietary regimen to help manage the cat’s IBS.
Diet plays a huge role in the expression and severity of IBS in your cat.
Unfortunately, IBS is not a curable condition. It can be effectively managed, although there is no one treatment and your veterinarian will probably require a combination of various therapies. These include:
Dietary Management & Changes
If your cat has IBS, your veterinarian may require a hypoallergenic food trial. This is basically a process of elimination in determining what kind of food is causing GI distress. You will have to feed your cat a protein (such as rabbit, venison, or duck) and carbohydrates diet. They want to limit their food intake to only those sources.
If your cat’s condition improves, then you know that they can tolerate that particular food very well. Other changes to the diet may include foods that are high in fiber, low in fat, and easily digestible. Other factors that will influence this diet may include your kitty’s age, breed, level of activity, and/or any other medical conditions.
Remember that a primary cause of IBS is food allergies or dietary intolerances.
Remember that IBS primarily comes from chronic inflammation in the GI tract. Consequently, a commonly prescribed drug is prednisone (a corticosteroid). Your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs. These are used to treat infections and chronic auto-inflammatory responses in the GI tract, respectively.
Recent research has also indicated that probiotics and prebiotics are useful in creating healthy gut flora. This is the term for the various beneficial bacteria that live in the mammalian digestive system and help your kitty digest its food.
Stress Maintenance & Management
Stress is a major trigger for IBS. When the mammalian body is stressed out, it releases a variety of hormones that are necessary for survival responses. However, if this stress is chronic, then these hormones can start to have deleterious effects on the body.
Anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to help your cat better deal with their stressful environment. Regular human interaction and healthy stimulation through toys, play, and regular exercise will also decrease the levels of these stress hormones in your cat’s body.
The most effective maintenance for IBS in cats usually consists of a combination of these various approaches. CBD may be a helpful addition to any or all of these treatments. It is extremely important, however, that you consult your vet before adding CBD to your cat’s diet. There may be interactions with drugs which could be dangerous for your cat.
Is CBD Safe for Your Cat?
Generally speaking, CBD is safe for your cat. It is difficult for your cat to overdose on, and if you give too high of a dose, your cat will simply sleep it off. You may also refer to our CBD Dosing chart when determining what dosage to start your cat on. Our dosage chart will guide you on the precise amount of CBD oil to give your cat. It will also show you exactly how many tasty CBD cat treats or CBD capsules to use with your cat.
Furthermore, you should consider companies that regularly test their products. This testing includes:
This will make sure that the proper concentration of CBD is present in each product sold, thereby resulting in exact dosage amounts. Furthermore, this will ensure that you can safely and effectively give CBD to your cat. Each batch is further tested for various cannabinoids and their amounts, including CBD, cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The hemp used for CBD production must be grown and then harvested like any other plant. All the CBD products sold by Holistapet are 100% organic and pesticide-free. This means at no point in the harvesting process are there any pesticides in use. You can rest easy knowing your cat will be consuming a product that is safe, natural, and gentle on their system.
Holistapet utilizes CO2 (carbon dioxide) extraction for the manufacture of their CBD products. This is a green method that is environmentally friendly. During this process, extractors filter out all harmful chemicals and/or toxins from the final CBD product.
All of these tests are undertaken by third-party entities in order for Holistapet products to receive certificates of analysis (COA’s).