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What to Do If Your Cat Ingests Marijuana

    • Veterinarians aren’t sure what dose of THC is fatally toxic to cats; luckily, this is because exposures are almost never fatal.

 

    • While you should still call your vet anytime your cat ingests marijuana, they’ll likely recommend home care unless your cat has a preexisting condition.

 

    • Make sure to store your cannabis safely and securely going forward.

 


If you have a medical card for depression, you’re likely storing cannabis somewhere in your home. Depending on your storage methods, your cat could get into your supply and ingest some. What should you do if this happens?

First, don’t panic—you aren’t the first cat parent facing this situation, and marijuana exposure is almost never fatal to cats.

This guide is designed to help you navigate accidental ingestion for cats. We’ll break down what we know about feline cannabis toxicity, provide a few key steps for responding to a situation like this, and touch on safe storage methods that will help keep your cat (and your stash) safe going forward.

Is Marijuana Toxic to Cats?

Yes, marijuana is toxic to cats—but toxic doesn’t always mean fatal.

When it comes to dogs, veterinarians have a very clear picture of how much cannabis is needed to risk fatal overdose—about 3 grams of THC per kilogram of body weight, which is a high volume. But since there are generally fewer documented cases of marijuana ingestion in cats, veterinarians don’t have as much data related to the subject.

Nevertheless, there are a few important things to note about marijuana toxicity in cats:

  • Your cat may experience symptoms when exposed to marijuana, either via secondhand smoke or direct ingestion.
  • You should always call your vet if you suspect that your cat has eaten something toxic—even if they’re not showing alarming symptoms.
  • When it comes to cannabis, associated ingredients (like chocolate and nicotine) likely pose a more immediate concern to their health than THC (more on this later).

What to Do If Your Cat Ingested Marijuana

So, you use cannabis for anxiety and you’ve discovered that your cat has broken into your supply—what now? Let’s break down some critical steps that will help you keep your cat safe.

Step 1: Document Their Symptoms

First, assess the situation in front of you:

  • What is your cat doing? – Is your cat’s behavior out of the ordinary, or do they appear to be acting normally?
  • Does your cat feel warm? – If your cat feels colder than normal, cannabis could have decreased their body temperature—a common symptom (and we’ll list more below).
  • Is your cat vomiting profusely or having a seizure? – If your cat is showing either of these severe symptoms, head to the emergency vet right away.

Be sure to look out for any of the hallmark symptoms of cannabis intoxication in cats (most of which are benign):

  • Disorientation or clumsiness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased drooling
  • Lethargy (which could be interpreted as depressive behavior)
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Incontinence
  • Low body temperature

Instead of taking your eye off your cat to write these symptoms down, consider recording a voice memo or videoing your cat to document them instead. This will ensure consistent monitoring, which is very important at this early stage.

Step 2: Try to Determine What They Ate and Look for Toxic Ingredients

Second, you should try to figure out what kind of cannabis product your cat ingested—two ingredients pose pressing concerns:

  • Nicotine – If your cat ate a spliff or a blunt (cannabis smokeables combined with tobacco), you should head to the vet right away. Nicotine is highly toxic to both cats and dogs in very low doses: 9 to 12 mg/kg of body weight or less. One traditional tobacco cigarette alone contains around 12 mg of nicotine, for reference.
  • Theobromine – Theobromine is a stimulant compound (like caffeine) that can be toxic to cats in large doses—luckily, exposures are rarely fatal. While you won’t find theobromine in cannabis, it’s present in most chocolate products. While the amount of theobromine depends on the type of chocolate (dark, high-quality chocolates feature higher levels than white chocolate or artificial chocolate flavorings), it could make your cat sick.

If your cat consumed any nicotine or chocolate, take them to the emergency vet right away. While theobromine likely doesn’t pose a fatally threatening concern, nicotine might.

Step 3: Call Your Vet

pet-cat-on-examination-in-a-veterinarian-clinic-h-2023-11-27-05-24-52-utcEven if your cat isn’t showing any severe symptoms or didn’t consume any nicotine or chocolate, you should still call your vet to let them know that your cat consumed cannabis by mistake.

Your vet may want to monitor your cat at the clinic if they have any preexisting health conditions like:

  • Heart issues
  • Past experiences with hypothermia
  • Seizure disorders

Even if your vet doesn’t recommend coming in, they may ask if they can record your experience and include it in local data about pet poisoning. This isn’t to vilify you for your mistake—veterinarians often collect data about pet diagnoses to report on community risks. By consenting to data collection, you could contribute to scientific research benefiting pets everywhere.

Step 4: Monitor Your Cat

If your vet recommends taking care of your cat at home, your main priority should be keeping your cat warm, relaxed, and comfortable. How can you do that?

  • Boost their bed – If your cat has a bed or a favorite place to lounge, add a few blankets, pillows, or towels to make them as comfortable as possible. Consider adding a heating pad or a hot water bottle under at least one blanket to help them stay warm—cannabis ingestion can cause a decrease in body temperature.
  • Create a tranquil environment – Turn off the TV, pause music, and keep the lights low if you can. These will all prevent overstimulation and help your cat sleep off their high.
  • Offer food and water – Make sure there’s plenty of food and water available to your pet as they recover from their cannabis ingestion. But don’t be alarmed if your cat doesn’t eat or drink for a few hours—they may have some (perfectly normal and expected) intestinal distress that should subside with time.

If you’re having a hard time keeping your cat fed and hydrated during or after a cannabis high, consider a few tricks from fellow pet owners:

  • Offer treats – Even if your cat won’t eat their usual kibble or wet food, they might indulge in their favorite treats. Don’t worry about overtreating in this case—calories are important when your cat is regaining their strength.
  • Try popsicles – If you have small ice cube trays or silicone candy molds, consider making mini popsicles for your cat. Combine their favorite treats with water and add them to the ice cube trays to create a frozen treat that could entice your cat to eat and drink.

How to Keep Your Cannabis Secure in the Future

Your cat’s cannabis high should subside in a few hours or after a good night’s sleep. In the meantime, spend some time considering additional storage measures that will keep your cat out of your stash going forward, like:

  • Containers with locking lids – Mason jars or containers made from thick plastic could help keep your pet from breaking into your supply. Plus, they’ll help keep your cannabis products fresh.
  • Locking cabinets – Cats can reach high shelves and the backs of kitchen countertops in many cases. To ensure your cat can’t knock your cannabis containers off of their perches, consider placing them in locking cabinets or in the refrigerator.

In addition, consider opting for lower-risk products the next time you visit the dispensary—items that, even if your cat does ingest them, won’t risk fatal overdose. We recommend steering clear of:

  • Edibles containing chocolates
  • Smokeables combined with nicotine

An ideal solution might be cannabis capsules. Since they’ll likely come in a pill bottle with a locking lid (impervious to claws and sharp teeth), cannabis capsules are very difficult for your cat to ingest by mistake.

Join a Supportive Cannabis Community with TeleLeaf

Rest assured that, if your cat gets into your cannabis supply, you’re certainly not the first pet parent or medical marijuana patient facing this situation. But when these types of incidents happen, you can rely on the community at TeleLeaf to support you.

Plus, if you’re looking for the best online medical marijuana card service provider on the market today, you’ve come to the right place. At TeleLeaf, we’re passionate about connecting patients with the plant-based recovery they deserve; our providers are open-minded, compassionate, and cannabis-informed.

Ready to get your medical marijuana card? Make an appointment today.


Sources:

PetMD. Is Marijuana Bad for Cats?.
https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/marijuana-bad-cats

Topics in Companion Animal Medicine. Marijuana Poisoning.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23796481/

American Lung Association. Keeping Your Pets Safe from Nicotine Poisoning.
https://www.lung.org/blog/nicotine-poisoning-in-pets

VCA Animal Hospitals. Household Hazards – Toxic Hazards for Cats.
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/household-hazards-toxic-hazards-for-cats

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