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What To Do If Your Cat Eats Weed & Other Dangers Of Marijuana

Weed is something cats can accidentally come in contact with. Owners often wonder what to do i f their cat eats weed. Is weed safe for cats? What about CBD? We have the answers owners need about kitties eating weed.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: September 12, 2022 | 12 min read

Cat eating marijuana leaf

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Many states across the country are legalizing and decriminalizing the use of marijuana, also commonly called weed, ganja, and Mary Jane. As more states legalize both medical and recreational use of marijuana, there is a higher chance that pets, like cats, might find their way into their owner’s stash. If this happens, it can lead to many purr parents wondering what to do if their cat eats weed.

CBD is not the same as the weed products most consumers use for recreational or medical purposes. Cats are incredibly curious creatures and seem to have a knack for knowing when their owners do not want them to have something. Because marijuana looks very similar to catnip and has a strong, pungent smell, it may be alluring to some felines.

Of course, owners will work hard to keep their pets away from weed and other substances that can be harmful. In the event a cat does eat weed, owners will want to be prepared and know what to do. Is this an emergency? We discuss what happens if a cat eats weed, what owners should look out for, and what the next steps should be.

What Is Weed vs. Cannabis vs. CBD

Putting CBD oil on Cat Food
There are many products out there that contain CBD, a form of cannabis.

There is a lot of different terminology and language surrounding marijuana, cannabis, and CBD can get confusing. Some substances are legal in places where others are not, so it is important to understand what each specific term means. Cannabis is a broader term that refers to the cannabis family of plants. Marijuana, including cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica, are members of the cannabis species. Hemp is another cannabis plant. All these plants produce cannabinoids that have differing effects on the body and mind.

The two most commonly known cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that induces euphoric effects. CBD can come from hemp and marijuana plants but does not contain or have psychoactive effects. Though it is a cannabinoid CBD will not produce the same effects as THC. CBD is often used in the medical setting to help manage symptoms of various conditions, including pain, inflammation, poor appetite, and more. An increasing number of products available in the pet market are CBD treats and oils used as natural treatments for varying illnesses.

Cannabinoids can be found in many different products, from topicals, edibles, oils, candy, and more. This opens the possibility of pets getting into products that contain them, which can potentially be harmful.

Is Weed Bad For Cats?

THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, is toxic to felines. While it is not as common for cats to ingest marijuana as it is for dogs, it can still happen and be very serious. THC exposure in felines will not have the same euphoric and pleasant effects some humans feel when they smoke or ingest it. They will feel some physical and mental symptoms, but they will be very intense and not pleasurable. Marijuana, weed, or anything containing THC is not safe for felines to consume in any way.

Can Cats Get High?

Cat sitting next to clump of marijuana
Cats should not inhale secondhand smoke or eat dry or fresh pieces of the plant.

Felines will experience both mental and physical effects from weed, commonly referred to as getting high. Felines do not enjoy these effects and should never purposefully be given THC in any form. Kitties can experience cannabis intoxication, which can lead to varying levels of symptoms. The severity of the intoxication will depend on the amount a kitty has consumed.

Exposure can impact a feline’s body temperature and heart rate and, in some cases, can cause severe reactions. This can include tremors, seizures, and even coma. Kitties who ingest large amounts of THC will need medical treatment. Owners who suspect their pet has consumed large amounts of THC, especially high potency THC, should contact the pet poison control helpline and their veterinarian for care.

My Cat Ate Weed, What Now?

Unfortunately, accidents are going to happen, and there is a possibility that a cat may eat marijuana or a marijuana product. This is a situation that is going to require prompt attention and may need medical care or advice from your veterinarian. Owners will need to be on alert and take quick action to make sure their pets will be okay. With prompt treatment, there is a possibility that severe marijuana intoxication can be prevented. Keep in mind that cannabinoids will stay in your account system for several days beyond when they have eaten them.

Common Weed Consumption Symptoms

Owners who suspect their cat may have eaten weed should observe them closely for signs and side effects. These can be very mild or quite severe, depending on the amount of marijuana consumed and the levels of THC the product contains. The three most common side effects of a cat eating THC are very slow heart rate, extreme lethargy, and uncoordinated movements called ataxia. Owners should observe for the following symptoms, which can be signs of severe cannabis intoxication.

  1. Twitching, tremors, and seizures
  2. Dilated pupils
  3. Slow or highly increased heart rate
  4. Very slow breathing
  5. Lethargy
  6. Extreme agitation
  7. Vomiting
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Loud and excessive vocalization
  10. Drooling
  11. Trouble regulating body temperature
  12. Depression and disorientation
  13. Loss of urinary control, leaking, or incontinence
  14. Loss of consciousness, including going into a coma

Signs and symptoms of marijuana ingestion and toxicity can take anywhere from mere minutes to hours to take effect. Some will last for about half an hour, and others may stretch on for several days. Again, this all depends on how much and what potency of marijuana a kitty has ingested.

Cats who have ingested marijuana can be very lethargic and not have an appetite or desire to drink, resulting in dehydration. Dehydration is a very serious concern for felines, so it is essential to seek veterinary care if you suspect your pet has eaten weed.

What Will The Vet Do If My Cat Ate Weed?

A veterinarian will take several steps to treat a kitty who has eaten weed. Detoxifying the cat and removing as much THC from their system as possible is key. One option is to induce vomiting or pump the stomach. Vets also sometimes use activated charcoal to help clean the cannabinoids out of a feline’s system. They may administer a urine test to determine the level present in a feline’s body. A kitty experiencing extreme lethargy, poor appetite, and possible dehydration may need IV fluids to keep them hydrated.

If necessary, a vet may also administer medications to help regulate body temperature and heart rate. In some cases, vets may try intravenous lipid infusion therapy, a process that can help clear THC through the system quicker. Supportive care is critical when treating a cat who has eaten marijuana. In cases of extreme marijuana toxicity, kitties may be hospitalized so that the vet can monitor them and keep an eye on heart rate, body temperature, and respiration while preventing dehydration.

Cats can remain scared, disoriented, and confused. Physical symptoms can linger until the THC completely clears out of their system. They will need care and monitoring for several days after ingesting. This can be done at home under the guidance of a vet or, in severe cases, may require hospitalization. One big area of concern is that felines often do not want to eat or drink after ingesting marijuana, which puts them at risk for dehydration. It is very important to monitor their body temperature and keep them hydrated. Owners must keep felines in a safe, comfortable area, as they may try to induce harm to themselves due to the effects of feeling intoxicated.

A mild reaction may occur, but kitties will still need monitoring and support. Kitties may seem low energy and will likely sleep a lot for several days as the THC exits their system. Owners should always err on the side of caution and check in with the vet anytime a feline eats weed.

Treatment for marijuana toxicity can be expensive. Owners can never predict an emergency. However, looking into cat insurance can help in some cases. Purchasing insurance before an emergency can be a big help to offset bills and can even make more treatment options affordable for owners.

My Cat Ate An Edible, What Now?

If your kitty ate an edible, it is imperative to contact your veterinarian immediately. Edible cannabis products can be even worse for felines to ingest than plain marijuana leaves or buds. This is because edibles often contain many other ingredients, some of which can be very toxic to felines. One ingredient commonly found in many cannabis edibles is chocolate, caffeine, cow’s milk, and high levels of sugar. Additionally, some of these edibles contain xylitol, which can be fatal to cats and dogs.

In many cases, edible dosages can be higher than plain marijuana leaves or buds. If your kitty ate a cannabis edible, it is important to find an emergency vet or contact your vet to get immediate advice. Your cat will likely need to be examined by a veterinarian so that preventative and supportive care measures can be taken. It is pivotal to handle this situation seriously and consult your veterinarian for advice, even if they only ate a tiny piece of an edible. Symptoms may take several hours to show up, so monitoring your kitty for any signs of marijuana toxicity is essential.

Can Weed Kill My Cat?

It is very rare for an animal like a cat to die from marijuana toxicity, but it can happen. Cats who have eaten a considerable amount of dried weed or cannabis edibles can start to experience some severe discomfort and will start to see their body systems stop working appropriately. It is more likely that an animal will be poisoned to the point of needing hospitalization from an edible, rather than leaves, stems, or flowers. Cats can start suffering severe consequences like low body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and dehydration after ingesting weed or marijuana-infused edibles. These issues can lead to a more serious situation if not treated quickly and appropriately.

Is CBD Safe for My Cat?

CBD, without any THC or a level of less than 0.3%, is safe for cats. It can be beneficial in helping ease symptoms of anxiety, pain, seizures, arthritis, digestive issues, mood issues, and low appetite. CBD is perfectly safe, and many cat owners find it helps alleviate the symptoms of their pets. CBD is non-intoxicating, so it will not give cats any of the adverse effects that can come from THC. We recommend Holistapet CBD for your cat’s needs.

Hemp oil can mimic CBD oil but is not the same, as CBD is extracted from the plant, and many hemp oils are made from the seed. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian before starting your account on any CBD regimen. Your veterinarian can provide information on the appropriate dose for your pet based on its size, age, and ailment. Remember that CBD has not been proven to cure cats of any conditions. However, it can be beneficial in alleviating and managing symptoms.

My Cat Inhaled Marijuana Smoke. Should I be Worried?

Cats should not inhale marijuana smoke if possible. It is unsafe for them to consume, and owners should try to refrain from exposing their cats to marijuana smoke. The health benefits and euphoric feeling humans get from smoking THC are not shared by felines. While a puff or two of secondhand smoke may not cause much of an issue for humans, cats are much smaller. They are more sensitive to cannabis and cannabinoids in any form. Cats can pick up THC from secondhand smoke.

Felines will not enjoy the feeling of being high. Other than trying to eat dried weed or an edible out of curiosity, they are not likely to seek out marijuana smoke. Rather than being an enjoyable experience for them, it can actually be quite traumatic. They will be very confused and not understand why they suddenly feel so different. Owners who believe their kitties have been exposed to a large amount of secondhand marijuana smoke should consult their veterinarian and keep a close eye on their pet for the next several hours to observe for signs of marijuana toxicity. Even if the effects are not severe, your cat may not feel very well and will need support and care until the effects wear off.

Weed vs. Catnip

Catnip is often referred to as weed for cats, but that is not exactly an accurate description. Despite the similarity in appearance, these plants do not have the same effect on felines. These two plants are not related and come from different families of plants. Catnip is a member of the mint family, along with other herbs like lavender, basil, rosemary, oregano, sage, and thyme. Catnip is not considered a drug. Weed comes from the cannabis plant part of the family Cannabacae and includes hemp, cannabis, nettle trees, hops, and many more.

THC produces a euphoric effect by activating and binding to cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Catnip is not absorbed by the endocannabinoid system. Instead, it acts like a pheromone and stimulates feline sensory neurons. This produces the behavior in a feline that emulates a human feeling a psychoactive high from marijuana. A significant difference between the two is that kitties cannot overdose on catnip. They will lose interest and move away when they have had their fill. Some kitties may get a stomach upset or gastrointestinal discomfort from eating too much, but catnip will not have any of the serious effects on the body systems that THC does. Nepetalactone, the pheromone in catnip that creates a positive reaction, is absorbed through tissues in the kitty’s nasal cavity.

Catnip is perfectly safe for cats to eat, and owners do not need to worry about them overindulging. Kitties are good at knowing when they have had enough, and they will walk away. Catnip is also found in dried form, as a live plant, or in many different treats and toys. Catnip is also called catwort, field bomb, and catmint. It has a lemony aroma and is appealing to domestic and wild cats. Unlike THC, catnip does not cause a mental high and leaves the cat aware of what is happening. They do not feel incapacitated when using catnip, though they may experience a very calm, happy, and relaxed attitude. Some kitties will indulge in catnip and get a little hyper, And some may not have any reaction at all.

Other Toxic Substances To Cats

There are many other substances, like weed, that are harmful to cats. Along with some human foods, these substances are toxic or cause unpleasant side effects.

  1. Caffeine is highly harmful to cats. They are far more sensitive to it than humans and can have a very adverse reaction. Caffeine can raise heart rates and damage essential organs like the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.
  2. Alcohol is incredibly bad for cats. While a nice way to unwind for us, for kitties, alcohol is never something they should have. Even one tablespoon of alcohol is enough to cause severe damage. Felines have smaller livers and systems not built to process alcohol.
  3. Cats should never be given human medications like painkillers or any over-the-counter meds. Giving a cat human pills, liquid medication, or supplements is never safe. Only ever use medication prescribed for your kitty or directed by a vet.
  4. Some houseplants like ficus, jade, oleander, daffodils, and poinsettia are highly toxic to kitties. They can cause sickness. Some common plants that we like to grow in the backyard garden, like tomatoes, are also toxic. Always research before bringing in a new plant or setting up a garden to ensure you are not planting things that can harm your kitty.

Frequently Asked Questions

My cat ate THC wax. What should I do?

If your kitty ate THC wax, contact your veterinarian as soon as you can. If you cannot reach your veterinarian, contact the animal poison control hotline for advice. Eating THC wax can potentially be very dangerous as it has many different chemicals that are toxic or harmful to cats. This can cause digestive issues as well as potentially induce marijuana intoxication. The dosage of THC in wax is much higher than in plain plants, so this is a big concern.

Can my cat overdose on weed?

Yes, a cat can overdose on weed. They are much more susceptible to cannabinoids than humans are, so a tiny amount can cause a big reaction. While fatalities due to overdosing on weed are rare in felines, they can happen. Kitties can experience extreme discomfort and shutdown of certain body systems, so it is crucial to ensure they get veterinary attention if owners suspect an overdose of marijuana.

My cat ate a weed plant. Is this dangerous?

Eating a weed plant that is alive is less dangerous to felines than eating dried flowers or products like edibles, wax, and oils. The leaves are relatively harmless, though not a good idea to allow them to overindulge. THC must be decarboxylated with heat before it can have psychoactive effects. Because of this, the THC found in live plants is less likely to trigger as strong of a reaction in cats. You will still want to contact your veterinarian about this and keep a close eye on your cat for several days afterward.

Can I mix weed with catnip for my cat?

No, mixing dried weed with catnip is never a good idea. These two very different plants have different effects on a feline’s body. Catnip should never be mixed with marijuana when intended to be used for a cat. It is best to let kitties enjoy the effects of catnip without any of the risks that come with THC.

Final Thoughts

Kitty owners can agree it is common for cats to get into things owners do not want them to have. Unfortunately, one of these things can be substances like marijuana. While weed is becoming legal in many places, and usage is common, that does not mean this is safe for pets. Cats should not consume THC in any form. CBD is safe as long as owners work under their veterinarian’s direction and follow all product use instructions. Felines will not feel the same euphoric effects of weed as humans. Instead, it can be a confusing, frightening, and even traumatic experience for them. THC can cause them significant discomfort and, in rare cases, even death.

Owners should take great caution to keep their pets away from weed and any kind of cannabis-infused product or edible. This also goes for pet-approved CBD products and treats. While these are safe to use with cats and do have some positive benefits, they should be kept securely away and not given out freely. Cats should always be supervised when taking any kind of CBD product. This information is not intended to be a substitute for advice from a veterinarian. It is for informational purposes only.

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