(Hart Hornor contributes this article about a new Wallingford-owned business, Cann-Pet)
Samurai used to have problems with aggression. He slapped other cats. For treatment, his owner gave him veterinarian-prescribed Paxil, an antidepressant for humans. But Paxil is tough on cat livers. So recently, his owner has been trying a new treatment: cannabis.
Samurai’s cannabis comes from Dan Goldfar, an MIT grad who worked in finance in New York before moving to Wallingford and cofounding Canna-Pet, an online cannabis business for pets.
Goldfar began researching cannabis as a hobby about 15 years ago. He discovered that hemp–the kind of Cannabis usually used to make rope and paper–had many of the same medicinal chemicals as the stuff people smoked to get high, but with low levels of the intoxicating chemical THC. Too much THC makes animals uncomfortable, he said.
Hemp was legal, and it had high levels of therapeutic chemicals, which Goldfar says can be used to treat a wide range of ailments, from constipation to seizures. When his cat was dying of cancer six years ago, Goldfar mentioned hemp to his veterinarians and it turned out they were interested in hemp too. The vets began testing hemp on animals, searching for perfect dosages. They started marketing their final product about a month ago.
The hemp comes in tiny capsules, to be sprinkled into an animal’s food. “Nobody’s thought of this before,” Goldfar said. “Nobody’s processed the hemp plant in this way.”
So far Goldfar has about 500 clients in six countries and gains about 10 more every day, he said. One of them is Lisa Anderson, whose 17-year-old cat, Cherokee, has arthritis in her spine. About five years ago Cherokee stopped jumping. Then she started having trouble using her litter box. She couldn’t lift her back feet into the box or crouch to defecate. The opiates her veterinarian prescribed made her groggy. Then Anderson tried feeding her Canna-Pet supplements. In only a few days, Anderson saw a change. Cherokee’s tail was up, she ran up stairs, and looked alert. Now she jumps and plays.
Why market hemp supplements only for animals? “That’s what we’re most interested in,” Goldfar said. Goldfar has four cats of his own, all of which take Canna-Pet supplements. Mariano takes them for his digestion problems. Neko, for a compromised immune system. Reggie has an aggression issue. And Emma-Jean gets into everyone else’s food anyway.