Catnip vs. CBD: Will CBD Get Your Cat High?

by | Sep 7, 2022

Catnip. You don’t know what it is, but your cat certainly does. Psychoactive when sniffed, catnip has been the butt of jokes for decades. “Meowijuana” is even the name of a popular catnip spray . These references make the entrance of cannabidiol (CBD) into the pet market even more confusing. The non-psychoactive cousin of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD concerns many pet owners, who fear it will get their furry friends high. New catnip/CBD hybrid products complicate matters even further. Nevertheless, its presence in the pet market has skyrocketed in recent years: 24% of pet owners in the United States , including 15% of cat owners, purchase CBD products (like Muddy Boot CBD Pet Drops) for either themselves or their pets.

Let’s compare catnip and CBD to find out.

Catnip & CBD: History and Uses

Catnip uses

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) originates from Eurasia. Although it has some history of use in humans for its sedative properties, catnip is primarily known for its effects on cats, including wild cats like lions and tigers. It contains nepetalactone, a chemical that, when inhaled, causes cats to roll and rub their bodies in it. Initially believed to trigger the vomeronasal organ (the pheromone-detecting organ in cat noses) nepetalactone affects various areas of the cat’s brain, including the amygdala and hypothalamus, triggering a seemingly euphoric state that both cats and their owners know and love.

Hemp (Cannabis L.) also originates from Asia, but its use in humans is far more documented. Possibly one of the oldest cultivated plants, hemp’s history has been clouded in controversy. Although George Washington mentions growing hemp throughout his diary, production of the crop in the United States was severely hampered by the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 and later the Controlled Substances Act . Thankfully, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 legalized hemp nationwide, and the market has been booming ever since: In 2018, companies sold $238 million worth of CBD products , a 57% increase from the previous year.

Like humans and most other animals , cats have an endocannabinoid system that reacts to cannabinoids like CBD, producing a wide range of effects. In both humans and cats, CBD may provide relief for pain and seizures by interacting with the CB2 and TRPV1 cannabinoid receptors.

Catnip & CBD Products


Market research on catnip is difficult to find, but many speculate that Ancient Egypt was the first civilization to give catnip to cats . Catnip products come in many forms, including dried leaves, sprays, and infused toys and treats. While a third of cats show no response to catnip due to genetic factors and age, the rest react strongly to it. Pet owners use catnip products for enjoyment and to acclimate their cats to new environments and objects.

While catnip has been a staple in the pet market for decades, CBD is quickly making its presence known. A $125 million industry (as of 2020) CBD products also come in a variety of forms, including tinctures and treats. Unlike catnip, however, CBD is not used by pet owners for recreational effects. Instead, customers primarily buy CBD to relieve stress and soothe pain . While studies in cats remain limited, current research suggests that CBD is safe for healthy adult cats .

Currently, all CBD products in the United States (including pet products) must contain <0.3% THC. This raises an important question:

Will CBD Get Your Cat High?

This is possibly the most common concern among pet owners about CBD. Many customers are not even sure of its effects on humans. A Nutrition Business Journal study revealed that 38% of customers “are entirely unfamiliar with the ingredient,” and many more fear it will get them and their pets high. These customers confuse CBD with THC, the cannabinoid that produces marijuana’s psychoactive effects.

Fortunately, CBD will not get your cat (or you) high. While THC binds to the CB1 receptor in the endocannabinoid system, CBD does not directly bind to any cannabinoid receptor. In fact, CBD is a CB1 agonist and may block the intoxicating effects of THC and other cannabinoids.

Nevertheless, CBD does have potential side effects for your cat. Like in humans and dogs, CBD may cause drowsiness and diarrhea in cats. Current studies suggest that cats have more CBD-related side effects than humans and dogs, however, especially at high doses. These additional side effects include head shaking, excessive salivation, and hypothermia. While CBD has many potential benefits, you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on CBD products and consult your veterinarian about issues concerning your pet’s health.

Note: California is the only state that allows veterinarians to initiate CBD discussions with patients — in all other states, you must ask about CBD first.

Conclusion: Are Catnip & CBD Right for Your Cat?

Catnip and CBD fill entirely different niches in the pet market. As the stereotypes show, catnip is primarily for recreational purposes. While it has some practical uses, like helping a cat adjust to a new home , most cat owners use catnip to have a fun time with their feline friends. CBD, on the other hand, is a more practical supplement used by cat owners to soothe stress and balance out their pet’s routine. While they should always be used in proper amounts under a veterinarian’s supervision, quality CBD pet products can help your cat feel their best without getting them high. Whether you are helping a cat with aches and pains or simply bringing calm to their day, CBD can help make your pet’s life more vibrant than ever.;

Ready to Try CBD?


Muddy Boot Botanicals makes simple, all-natural CBD products using Oregon-grown hemp and other high-quality ingredients, complete with independent lab tests for safety. Our CBD Pet Drops contain only four ingredients (coconut MCT oil, salmon oil, hemp extract, and Vitamin E oil) specially combined to soothe your pet’s pain and bring balance to their routine one drop at a time. And while you’re at it, why not try out some CBD bar soap or body butter for yourself?

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