Best CBD Oil for Cats With Cancer: Reviews & Guide (July 2021)

By | last updated September 1, 2021

Medically reviewed by
Andres Maldonado, MD

Evidence Based 28

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Early research suggests that CBD can alleviate some symptoms of cancer and chemotherapy, and even slow tumor growth.

Unfortunately, the CBD market is filled with thousands of products of varying quality. Many contain less CBD than advertised, while others carry pesticides or other contaminants.

That’s why we compared more than 30 pet CBD oils and treats based on their third-party lab test results, hemp quality, potency, formula, customer reviews, price, and other criteria.

Read on for our picks of the best CBD oil for cats with cancer, plus a science-based guide on using CBD for this debilitating condition.

CBD Terminology

  • Terpenes: aromatic plant compounds with a wide variety of beneficial properties (1).
  • Minor cannabinoids: CBN, CBG, and other beneficial cannabinoids that are present in smaller amounts than CBD.
  • Hemp: a non-intoxicating variety of cannabis with high CBD and low THC levels (>0.3%).
  • Full-spectrum: whole-plant hemp extract containing CBD, THC, and other beneficial hemp cannabinoids and terpenes. This CBD form is up to 4 times more potent than pure CBD (2).
  • Broad-spectrum: whole-plant hemp extract similar to full-spectrum CBD, but with THC removed (may contain trace amounts).
  • CBD isolate: pure CBD with all other hemp compounds removed.

Receptra Naturals Pet Tincture (Best Overall)

receptra naturals pet tincture

Pros: 

  • Two potencies
  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • Great price
  • Extensive third-party testing
  • Organic Colorado hemp source
  • Free shipping

Cons:

  • No flavored options

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Our top pick is Receptra Naturals, a company recognized for its high quality. Its pet CBD oil is an excellent choice for cats with cancer.

This tincture is made with full-spectrum CBD, which means it contains multiple beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes. Full-spectrum products are more effective than those containing a pure form of CBD (isolate). 

It’s available in two strengths (16 mg/ml and 25 mg/ml) although we recommend the stronger version since cancer is a serious condition. This tincture provides a total of 480-750 mg of CBD in a 30 ml bottle.

Receptra Naturals grows its organic hemp on a small family farm in Colorado. Its products are comprehensively tested by a third-party lab.

Receptra’s full-spectrum pet CBD oil costs $0.09 per mg of CBD. As far as pet CBD tinctures go, this price is considered below-average. 

Lazarus Naturals CBD Pet Tincture (Best Value)

Pros: 

  • Exceptionally low price
  • Full-spectrum CBD and isolate versions
  • Extensive third-party testing
  • Multiple bottle sizes
  • Organic, high-quality Oregon hemp source

Cons:

  • Only one potency option

If you’re looking to get the best value, we recommend Lazarus Naturals. 

This company is known for offering high-quality products at unbeatable prices. Its calming CBD pet CBD oil costs only $0.03 per mg of CBD, which is far below the price of most competitor brands. 

These third-party tested tinctures are made with full-spectrum CBD, but you can also choose the CBD isolate version if you want to avoid THC completely.

Lazarus Naturals’ pet CBD tincture contains 300-2400 mg of CBD and has a potency of 20 mg/ml, which is fairly high for cats. It comes in multiple bottle sizes (30 ml, 60 ml, 120 ml) and has a salmon flavor.

Better yet, the CBD is derived from organic hemp grown in Oregon which comes from Lazarus Naturals’ own farm. An employee-owned company, Lazarus Naturals is known for its excellent quality, transparency, and commitment to low prices.

NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum Pet CBD Oil (Strongest)

nuleaf-pet-cbd-oil

Pros: 

  • Very high potency
  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • Great price
  • Extensive third-party testing
  • Organic Colorado hemp source
  • Free shipping

Cons:

  • No flavored options

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Because cancer is such a serious condition, you may need to use a high-potency product to provide your feline friend with optimal relief. For these cases, we recommend the pet CBD oil from NuLeaf Naturals, an established brand known for its high quality.

Its pet tincture has a high potency of 60 mg/ml, which is ideal for serious conditions such as cancer. It comes with a total of 300-1800 mg of CBD in a 5–30 ml bottle.

This CBD oil is made with full-spectrum CBD, which means it contains multiple beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes. Full-spectrum products are more effective than those containing a pure form of CBD (isolate). 

Like all NuLeaf products, this pet tincture is sourced from organic Colorado hemp. It also undergoes comprehensive third-party testing.

Nuleaf’s full-spectrum pet CBD oil has a per-mg price of $0.08–0.10, which is cheaper than average for pet tinctures.

Cannimal Eva’s Blend (Best Formula)

Pros: 

  • Anti-cancer formula
  • Whole-plant hemp extract
  • Third-party tested
  • Organic Colorado hemp source
  • Free shipping

Cons:

  • Lacking third-party tests for contaminants

The Eva’s blend tincture from Cannimal is one of the only pet CBD products formulated specifically for cancer. Although it was inspired by a dog suffering from cancer, there’s no reason it can’t be used for cats.

This CBD oil contains dried turkey tail mushroom (Trametes versicolor), which has been used in cancer treatment in Japan for decades. Research studies show that it can improve immune system function in cancer sufferers and may potentially suppress tumor growth (3, 4).

Cannimal’s 50 ml tincture is available in four strengths containing 150, 250, 1000, or 2000 mg of CBD derived from organic, Colorado-grown hemp. It’s made with broad-spectrum CBD, a type of hemp extract which contains multiple beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes but no THC.

Cannimal’s tincture comes with a gel pump to make it easier to administer to pets and a Miron glass bottle, which extends CBD’s shelf-life by protecting against sunlight. 

It costs $0.08–0.27 per mg of CBD. That’s a fairly reasonable price for such a unique, cancer-focused product.

Holistapet CBD Cat Treats (Best Treats)

Pros: 

  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • Affordable price ($0.17 per mg)
  • Cat-friendly flavor
  • Third-party tested 
  • Free shipping
  • Organic Colorado hemp source

Cons:

  • No third-party tests for contaminants

Although CBD oil tinctures are the ideal form of CBD for cancer, infused treats can be an effective addition. Our top pick for this category is Holistapet, a company dedicated to CBD products for pets.

The company’s CBD cat treats contain 2 mg of full-spectrum CBD each. By comparison, the vast majority of cat treats are made with CBD isolate, a pure form of CBD. Full-spectrum hemp extract is the ideal form of CBD for cancer because it offers stronger benefits than CBD isolate.

These edible treats have a pleasant salmon flavor and contain only natural ingredients. There are 75 pieces per bag, for a total of 150 mg of CBD, sourced from organic Colorado hemp.

Holistapet’s CBD cat treats cost $0.17 per mg of CBD. This price is similarly to most CBD-infused pet treats.

Buying Guide for CBD Oil Products for Cat Cancer

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the more than 100 cannabinoids present in cannabis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the best-known cannabinoid, CBD doesn’t make you high.

CBD offers a wide variety of health benefits for both humans and pets, such as reducing anxiety, improving sleep, and alleviating pain and inflammation. 

There’s also some evidence that it can help with cancer and other debilitating conditions. CBD is typically sourced from hemp, a legal type of cannabis with low (<0.3%) THC levels.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is the most popular type of CBD product. It consists of two major ingredients:

  1. CBD extract: cannabinoid-rich oil extracted from the flowers and other above-ground parts of hemp. Cannabidiol is the main active compound in this extract but it can also contain other cannabinoids and many other beneficial compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids.
  2. Carrier oil: a plant-based oil that helps the body absorb CBD and makes it easier to dose. Coconut-derived MCT oil is the most common carrier oil.

CBD oil can also contain flavoring and other active ingredients. 

Keep in mind that CBD oil is not the same thing as hemp seed oil, which is cold-pressed from hemp seeds, not the plant. This oil does not contain any CBD or other cannabinoids.

Benefits of CBD for Cat Cancer

CBD has many beneficial properties that can improve the lives of cats suffering from cancer. There’s evidence that:

  • CBD can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation
  • CBD can reduce pain associated with cancer and chemotherapy
  • CBD can alleviate nausea and vomiting caused by cancer and chemotherapy
  • CBD can also help with allergic reactions that may be caused by some chemotherapy drugs
  • CBD may even be able to directly slow cancer tumor growth

Let’s take a closer look at specific research studies highlighting these effects.

CBD and Cancer: The Research Evidence

There’s a growing volume of research demonstrating the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids for cancer. For starters, there’s evidence that CBD has direct anti-cancer effects that can slow tumor growth: (5)

  • Several petri dish studies found that CBD had anticancer effects against leukemia cells (6, 7)
  • A 2006 study found that CBD suppressed breast cancer growth better than four other cannabinoids, while a 2018 study found that it promoted the death of breast cancer cells (8, 9)
  • A 2012 study reported that CBD reduced tumors and had other beneficial effects in mice with colon cancer (10)
  • According to a 2015 review paper, animal studies suggest that CBD may slow the progression of breast, lung, prostate, colon, and other types of cancer (11)

Furthermore, there’s evidence that CBD can alleviate symptoms caused by cancer and chemotherapy, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, and allergic reactions:

  • One 2013 study reported that CBD reduced pain caused by Paclitaxel, a chemotherapy drug (12)
  • A 2010 clinical study found that the combination of THC and CBD relieved pain in cancer sufferers better than THC by itself (13)
  • A 2002 study found that CBD alleviate nausea in rats, leading the researchers to conclude that it “may have therapeutic value in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea” (14)
  • A 2019 study found that CBD reduced inflammation in mice with allergic asthma, suggesting that it may help ease allergic creations to chemotherapy drugs (15)

Although more research specifically looking at feline cancer is needed, the current evidence suggests that CBD can improve the quality of life of animals suffering from cancer and potentially even slow cancer tumor growth.

How Can CBD Oil Help Cats With Cancer

CBD produces most of its anti-cancer effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is about 600 million years old and present in humans, cats, dogs, and many other animals (16).

The ECS regulates major bodily processes such as pain, immunity, sleep, mood, digestion, cognition, and appetite to maintain an internal state of balance called hemostasis. It consists of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids (cannabinoids made by the body), and enzymes that help break and build these compounds. 

Although the ECS in cats and other animals has not been studied extensively, we do know that it functions similar to how it works in humans.

Research suggests that the endocannabinoid system can help with cancer in many ways:

  • Cannabinoid receptors affect cell survival and other processes that hold the key to suppressing cancer (17)
  • The endocannabinoid anandamide has been shown to promote the destruction of cancer cells, reduce the migration of cancer cells, and prevent the formation of new blood vessels by tumors (18, 19)
  • Cannabinoid receptors can also stimulate the immune response against cancer (17)
  • The endocannabinoid system’s regulatory effects mean that it can help with pain, inflammation, nausea, and other symptoms of cancer and cancer treatment

CBD helps support these and other functions of the endocannabinoid system by elevating the levels of endocannabinoids (20). 

In addition, CBD has been demonstrated to help with symptoms of cancer and chemotherapy in other ways, such as:

  • Interacting with other parts of the body that regulate pain and inflammation, such as glycine receptors and adenosine (21, 22)
  • Interacting with serotonin receptors, which may explain CBD’s anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects (23)

The bottom line: cats have an endocannabinoid system just like humans, and it can respond to CBD and produce beneficial effects.

Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?

CBD is considered safe for cats and other animals. Although one study did mention increased licking and head shaking in some cats who were given CBD oil, there were no serious side effects reported (24).

Aside from that, numerous studies of CBD in dogs and mice have also found that it’s a generally safe substance with few side effects.

Additionally, CBD has been shown to have few and minor side effects in people, such as tiredness, dry mouth, and diarrhea, so it’s possible that similar effects may occur in cats and other animals (25).

The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded in its 2018 report that “CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile” (26).

Nonetheless, we recommend consulting your vet before giving your cat CBD. If available, a qualified vet is always the best source of knowledge.

Tips to Maximize The Benefits of CBD Oil in Cats

If you’re interested in trying out CBD oil to help your cat’s cancer, here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Opt for full-spectrum CBD products over pure CBD (isolate). Full-spectrum products offer greater benefits thanks to the entourage effect (1).
  • You may need to find pet CBD products with a higher potency than normal for optimal relief. Look for products with a potency of 4 mg/ml or higher. 
  • Only buy from companies that provide third-party lab test results confirming the potency and safety of their CBD products.
  • Try to apply CBD oil directly under the tongue or at least the mouth rather than adding it to your cat’s food, as this will result in greater effects due to greater absorption.
  • CBD oil is far more effective than edible cat treats. Edible CBD products should only be used in addition to CBD oil.

CBD Oil Dosage for Feline Cancer

Just like with people, there’s no ideal dosage of CBD that will work for all cats with cancer. There are simply too many factors, such as the severity of the symptoms, the benefits you’re looking to achieve, the weight of your cat, and the type of product you’re using.

The best-case scenario is to talk with a veterinarian knowledgeable about CBD or cannabis to suggest the right dosage for your cat.

If that’s not possible, start with the dose recommended by your product. From there, you can assess how your cat responds and gradually increase the dosage over several days and weeks until you see the desired effects. Be patient and consistent as the effects of CBD can be subtle and build up over time.

As a general guideline, doses of 0.25–0.5 mg of CBD per lb of body weight are sufficient for cats. However, since cancer is a serious condition, you may need to use higher dosages.

How To Give Your Cat CBD Oil

Although CBD oil can be simply added to your cat’s food, we highly recommend using the sublingual (under-the-tongue) method, or at the very least applying it directly to the mouth.

While your cat is unlikely to cooperate, this method of administration has greater benefits because the CBD can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream through tiny blood vessels in the mouth. 

By comparison, oral products have notoriously low absorption because they have to pass through the digestive system.

CBD Oil vs. Edible Treats for Feline Cancer

Aside from tinctures, cat CBD products also come in other forms such as edible treats. Although such products are also beneficial, they are not nearly as effective as standard CBD oil due to low bioavailability (absorption).

Simply put, when CBD is ingested, much of it is lost in the digestive tract before reaching systemic circulation. In fact, research studies estimate that only about 6–19% of CBD that’s taken in an oral form reaches the blood (27, 28).

Due to this, it’s best to only use cat treats as an addition to CBD oil rather than a replacement.

CBD Oil vs. Standard Cat Cancer Treatments

Feline cancer is treated in a similar way to cancer in humans. Surgery is the most common option for cancer-related lumps or bumps and is the most likely to cure the disease.

Meanwhile, more aggressive types of cancer are typically treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This includes lymphoma, the most common type of cancer in cats.

Unfortunately, the survival rate for cats undergoing these treatments is lower than with surgery, and treatment is focused primarily on improving quality of life rather than a cure. Additionally, the costs of all of these treatments are not cheap, and can easily cost upwards of $5000.

In that sense, CBD can be a cheaper alternative that can also be used alongside standard medical therapy. Still, we want to stress that while CBD is promising, there isn’t yet enough evidence to call it a reliable treatment for cat cancer.

Can I Give My Cat “Human” CBD Oil?

You absolutely can use regular CBD oil for your pet. After all, the two main ingredients, CBD extract and carrier oil, are the same in both pet and human products.

Having said that, regular “human” CBD oil is much more potent than tinctures designed for cats. Due to this, we recommend paying close attention to the potency of your oil and using small doses.

References

  1. Russo, Ethan B. “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects.” British journal of pharmacology 163.7 (2011): 1344-1364.
  2. Pamplona, Fabricio A., Lorenzo Rolim da Silva, and Ana Carolina Coan. “Potential clinical benefits of CBD-rich cannabis extracts over purified CBD in treatment-resistant epilepsy: observational data meta-analysis.” Frontiers in neurology 9 (2018): 759.
  3. Torkelson, Carolyn J., et al. “Phase 1 clinical trial of Trametes versicolor in women with breast cancer.” ISRN oncology 2012 (2012).
  4. Sun, Chen, et al. “Polysaccharide-K (PSK) in cancer-old story, new possibilities?.” Current medicinal chemistry 19.5 (2012): 757-762.
  5. Seltzer, Emily S., et al. “Cannabidiol (CBD) as a promising anti-cancer drug.” Cancers 12.11 (2020): 3203.
  6. McKallip, Robert J., et al. “Cannabidiol-induced apoptosis in human leukemia cells: a novel role of cannabidiol in the regulation of p22phox and Nox4 expression.” Molecular Pharmacology 70.3 (2006): 897-908.
  7. Scott, Katherine A., Angus G. Dalgleish, and Wai M. Liu. “Anticancer effects of phytocannabinoids used with chemotherapy in leukaemia cells can be improved by altering the sequence of their administration.” International journal of oncology 51.1 (2017): 369-377.
  8. Ligresti, Alessia, et al. “Antitumor activity of plant cannabinoids with emphasis on the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma.” Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics 318.3 (2006): 1375-1387.
  9. Sultan, Ahmed S., Mona A. Marie, and Salah A. Sheweita. “Novel mechanism of cannabidiol-induced apoptosis in breast cancer cell lines.” The Breast 41 (2018): 34-41.
  10. Aviello, Gabriella, et al. “Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer.” Journal of molecular medicine 90.8 (2012): 925-934.
  11. McAllister, Sean D., Liliana Soroceanu, and Pierre-Yves Desprez. “The antitumor activity of plant-derived non-psychoactive cannabinoids.” Journal of neuroimmune pharmacology 10.2 (2015): 255-267.
  12. Ward, Sara Jane, et al. “Cannabidiol inhibits paclitaxel‐induced neuropathic pain through 5‐HT1A receptors without diminishing nervous system function or chemotherapy efficacy.” British journal of pharmacology 171.3 (2014): 636-645.
  13. Johnson, Jeremy R., et al. “Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain.” Journal of pain and symptom management 39.2 (2010): 167-179.
  14. Parker, Linda A., Raphael Mechoulam, and Coralynne Schlievert. “Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis and its synthetic dimethylheptyl homolog suppress nausea in an experimental model with rats.” Neuroreport 13.5 (2002): 567-570.
  15. Vuolo, Francieli, et al. “Cannabidiol reduces airway inflammation and fibrosis in experimental allergic asthma.” European journal of pharmacology 843 (2019): 251-259.
  16. McPartland, John M., and Patty Pruitt. “Sourcing the code: searching for the evolutionary origins of cannabinoid receptors, vanilloid receptors, and anandamide.” Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics 2.1 (2002): 73-103.
  17. Pyszniak, Maria, Jacek Tabarkiewicz, and Jarogniew J. Łuszczki. “Endocannabinoid system as a regulator of tumor cell malignancy–biological pathways and clinical significance.” OncoTargets and therapy 9 (2016): 4323.
  18. Adinolfi, Barbara, et al. “Anticancer activity of anandamide in human cutaneous melanoma cells.” European journal of pharmacology 718.1-3 (2013): 154-159.
  19. Picardi, Paola, et al. “Anandamide inhibits breast tumor-induced angiogenesis.” Translational [email protected] UniSa 10 (2014): 8.
  20. Leweke, F. M., et al. “Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.” Translational psychiatry 2.3 (2012): e94-e94.
  21. Xiong, Wei, et al. “Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors.” Journal of Experimental Medicine 209.6 (2012): 1121-1134.
  22. Booz, George W. “Cannabidiol as an emergent therapeutic strategy for lessening the impact of inflammation on oxidative stress.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 51.5 (2011): 1054-1061.
  23. Parker, Linda A., Erin M. Rock, and Cheryl L. Limebeer. “Regulation of nausea and vomiting by cannabinoids.” British journal of pharmacology 163.7 (2011): 1411-1422.
  24. Deabold, Kelly A., et al. “Single-dose pharmacokinetics and preliminary safety assessment with use of CBD-rich hemp nutraceutical in healthy dogs and cats.” Animals 9.10 (2019): 832.
  25. Iffland, Kerstin, and Franjo Grotenhermen. “An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: a review of clinical data and relevant animal studies.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research 2.1 (2017): 139-154.
  26. CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Critical Review Report. (WHO).
  27. Zhornitsky, Simon, and Stéphane Potvin. “Cannabidiol in humans—the quest for therapeutic targets.” Pharmaceuticals 5.5 (2012): 529-552.
  28. Millar, Sophie A., et al. “A systematic review on the pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol in humans.” Frontiers in pharmacology 9 (2018): 1365.

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