Background: Cannabis from hemp (Cannabis sativa and C. indica) is one of the most common illegal drugs used by drug abusers. Indian cannabis contains around 70 alkaloids, and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC) is the most psychoactive substance. Animal intoxications occur rarely and are mostly accidental. According to the US Animal Poison Control Center, cannabis intoxication mostly affects dogs (96%). The most common cause of such intoxication is unintentional ingestion of a cannabis product, but it may also occur after the exposure to marijuana smoke.
Case presentation: A 6-year-old Persian cat was brought to the veterinary clinic due to strong psychomotor agitation turning into aggression. During hospitalisation for 14 days, the cat behaved normally and had no further attacks of unwanted behaviour. It was returned to its home but shortly after it developed neurological signs again and was re-hospitalised. On presentation, the patient showed no neurological abnormalities except for symmetric mydriasis and scleral congestion. During the examination, the behaviour of the cat changed dramatically. It developed alternate states of agitation and apathy, each lasting several minutes. On interview it turned out that the cat had been exposed to marijuana smoke. Blood toxicology tests by gas chromatography tandem mass spectrometry revealed the presence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at 5.5 ng/mL, 11-hydroxy-delta-9-THC at 1.2 ng/mL, and 11-carboxydelta-9-THC at 13.8 ng/mL. The cat was given an isotonic solution of NaCl 2.5 and 2.5% glucose at a dose of 40 mL/kg/ day parenterally and was hospitalised. After complete recovery, the cat was returned to it’s owner and future isolation of the animal from marijuana smoke was advised.
Conclusions: This is the first case of a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol intoxication in a cat with both description of the clinical findings and the blood concentration of delta-9-THC and its main metabolites.
Keywords: Cat, Intoxication, Marijuana, THC