Before his owners started dosing him with a daily drop of marijuana, Garfield the cat’s nine lives were rapidly running out.
The 18-year-old feline — whose name has been changed to protect patient confidentiality — suffered from a host of painful conditions.
These included thyroid and heart disease, severe arthritis, renal failure and chronic pancreatitis, a condition that caused him to lose his appetite and experience pain in his abdomen, said veterinarian Kathy Kramer of the Vancouver Animal Wellness Hospital.
But when his owners started giving Garfield a daily drop of medical marijuana in the form of a tincture, the cat seemed to take a near-miraculous turn for the better.
Now the ailing feline, who had previously lost the desire to eat, demands his food and seems to experience less pain, Kramer said.
“He’s still got a lot of health issues, but for now he is stable and he eats like a champ,” she said.
Garfield’s owners are part of a growing movement of animal lovers looking at pot to treat pain in their sick and aging pets.
Some are medical-marijuana users themselves, and think that if the drug helped them, then maybe it could free Fido from his health problems, too.
But while many think the drug is a safe and natural alternative to other painkillers, some veterinarians caution that more research is needed before they can start recommending it to pet owners.
Kramer said she is asked by clients several times a week about trying medical marijuana as a treatment option for pets.
When Garfield’s owners told her they were trying it on their aging pet, Kramer said she couldn’t recommend the drug, as there are no veterinary guidelines on prescribing it for animals.
But realizing the owners were going to try it regardless, Kramer said she needed to ensure they were doing it safely.
“This is something that the owners were going to do with or without me,” she said. “I just helped adjust the dose for them.”
Through trial and error, Kramer said the owners eventually found the appropriate amount to give Garfield.
“We’re running a fine balance of keeping him comfortable without keeping him sedated,” she said.