Safety and tolerability of escalating cannabinoid doses in healthy cats

Updated: Sep 24

Dated: March 26, 2021


  1. The purpose of this study was to determine the safety and tolerability of escalating doses of orally delivered cannabis oils predominant in cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or both CBD and THC in healthy cats.

  2. In this placebo-controlled, blinded study, 20 healthy adult cats were randomized to one of five treatment groups (n = 4 per group): two placebo groups (sunflower oil [SF] or medium-chain triglyceride oil [MCT]), or three plant-derived cannabinoid oil groups (CBD in MCT, THC in MCT or CBD/THC [1.5:1] in SF). Up to 11 escalating doses of each formulation were delivered orally via syringe to fasted subjects, with at least 3 days separating doses. Safety and tolerability were determined from clinical observations, complete blood counts (CBCs) and clinical chemistry. Plasma cannabinoids (CBD, THC) and metabolites (7-COOH-CBD, 11-OH-THC) were assessed.

  3. Titration to maximum doses of 30.5 mg/kg CBD (CBD oil), 41.5 mg/kg THC (THC oil) or 13.0:8.4 mg/kg CBD:THC (CBD/THC oil) was safely achieved in all subjects. All observed adverse events (AEs) were mild, transient and resolved without medical intervention. Gastrointestinal AEs were more common with formulations containing MCT. Constitutional (lethargy, hypothermia), neurologic (ataxia) and ocular (protrusion membrana nictitans) AEs were more common with oils containing THC (CBD/THC and THC oils).

  4. The findings support the safety and tolerability of CBD in the formentioned species. This placebo-controlled escalating dose study, which delivered up to 30.5 mg/kg CBD in an MCT oil matrix, showed oral administration of CBD to be generally well tolerated by cats with no detrimental changes in CBC and clinical chemistry. Importantly, as compared with formulations containing THC, CBD oil was associated with the fewest number of constitutional, neurologic and ocular AEs and the fewest number of behavioral changes.


For further information: https://doi.org/10.1177/1098612X211004215

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