Can Cats Eat Catnip? A Herbaceous Mystery

white and brown tabby kittens

Can Cats Eat Catnip? — Yes, They can

Cat­nip, known sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly as Nepe­ta cataria, is a herb that is well-loved by many cats. When cats are exposed to cat­nip, they often exhib­it behav­iors such as rolling, rub­bing, and purring, which can be quite enter­tain­ing to wit­ness. But can cats actu­al­ly eat cat­nip? The answer is yes, cats can safe­ly con­sume cat­nip with­out any harm to their health.

Can Kittens Eat Catnip?

Yes, kit­tens can also enjoy cat­nip with­out any neg­a­tive effects. How­ev­er, it’s impor­tant to note that not all kit­tens may respond to cat­nip until they reach matu­ri­ty, which is typ­i­cal­ly around 6 months of age. There­fore, if your kit­ten does­n’t seem inter­est­ed in cat­nip, don’t wor­ry, as their sen­si­tiv­i­ty to it may devel­op with time.

Things to consider when feeding catnip to kittens?

While cat­nip is gen­er­al­ly safe for kit­tens, it’s essen­tial to offer it to them in mod­er­a­tion. Start by intro­duc­ing small amounts of dried cat­nip or cat­nip-infused toys to gauge their response. Always super­vise your kit­ten dur­ing play­time with cat­nip to pre­vent acci­den­tal inges­tion of large quan­ti­ties, which may lead to tem­po­rary diges­tive upset.

Nutritional Benefits of Catnip for Cats — Why Catnip is Good for Cats?

1. Mental Stimulation and Stress Relief

Cat­nip is known to have a calm­ing effect on cats. When they con­sume or inter­act with cat­nip, it trig­gers a response in their brains that stim­u­lates plea­sure and relax­ation. This can be par­tic­u­lar­ly ben­e­fi­cial for anx­ious or stressed cats, pro­vid­ing them with a nat­ur­al way to unwind and alle­vi­ate ten­sion.

2. Environmental Enrichment and Exercise

Cat­nip can serve as a fan­tas­tic tool for pro­vid­ing envi­ron­men­tal enrich­ment and pro­mot­ing phys­i­cal activ­i­ty in cats. By offer­ing cat­nip-infused toys or incor­po­rat­ing cat­nip into their play­time rou­tine, you can encour­age your cat to engage in active play, help­ing them main­tain a healthy weight and pre­vent­ing bore­dom-relat­ed behav­ior issues.

3. Bonding and Social Interaction

Shar­ing play­ful moments with your cat can strength­en your bond. Cat­nip can be a valu­able aid in fos­ter­ing that bond as it can pique your cat’s inter­est and cre­ate enjoy­able shared expe­ri­ences. By incor­po­rat­ing cat­nip into inter­ac­tive play­time, you can enhance your cat’s over­all hap­pi­ness and deep­en your rela­tion­ship.

4. Natural Teeth Maintenance

Chew­ing on cat­nip leaves or cat­nip-infused toys can help cats nat­u­ral­ly clean their teeth by reduc­ing plaque buildup. This can con­tribute to bet­ter oral health and may min­i­mize the risk of den­tal issues such as gum dis­ease or tooth decay.

5. Mental Stimulation and Cognitive Development

When cats engage with cat­nip, it acti­vates their nat­ur­al hunt­ing instincts, encour­ag­ing them to explore and inves­ti­gate. This men­tal stim­u­la­tion can help keep their minds sharp and pro­mote cog­ni­tive devel­op­ment, espe­cial­ly in indoor cats who may not have as many oppor­tu­ni­ties for men­tal enrich­ment.

Potential Allergies: Can Cats Be Allergic to Catnip?

While aller­gies to cat­nip are rare, some cats may exhib­it hyper­sen­si­tiv­i­ty or aller­gic reac­tions. If your cat shows symp­toms such as exces­sive drool­ing, vom­it­ing, or skin irri­ta­tions after com­ing into con­tact with cat­nip, it’s advis­able to dis­con­tin­ue its use and con­sult a vet­eri­nar­i­an for guid­ance.

Symptoms of Catnip Allergies in Cats

  • Exces­sive Sneez­ing or Nasal Dis­charge: If your cat starts sneez­ing exces­sive­ly or has a run­ny nose after expo­sure to cat­nip, it could be a sign of an aller­gy.
  • Itchy Skin or Irri­tat­ed Eyes: Some cats may devel­op skin rash or red­ness around the eyes when aller­gic to cat­nip.
  • Gas­troin­testi­nal Upset: Vom­it­ing or diar­rhea may occur in cats with severe cat­nip aller­gies.

What to Do If Your Cat Shows Symptoms?

  • Dis­con­tin­ue Use of Cat­nip: If your cat exhibits aller­gy symp­toms, stop offer­ing cat­nip and observe if the symp­toms sub­side.
  • Con­sult a Vet­eri­nar­i­an: If the symp­toms per­sist or wors­en, seek pro­fes­sion­al advice from a vet­eri­nar­i­an to deter­mine the under­ly­ing cause and receive appro­pri­ate treat­ment.
  • Explore Alter­na­tive Enrich­ment Options: If your cat is aller­gic to cat­nip, there are plen­ty of oth­er ways to pro­vide enrich­ing expe­ri­ences, such as inter­ac­tive toys or puz­zle feed­ers. Exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent options to find what stim­u­lates and engages your cat.

Recommended Amount: How Much Catnip Can a Cat Consume?

When it comes to feed­ing cat­nip to your cat, mod­er­a­tion is key. For dried cat­nip, a pinch or a small sprin­kle on a toy or scratch­er is usu­al­ly suf­fi­cient. If you’re using fresh cat­nip leaves, a small leaf or a few crushed leaves can pro­vide the desired effect. It’s impor­tant not to over­do the quan­ti­ty, as exces­sive expo­sure might dimin­ish your cat’s response over time.

Things to Consider When Feeding Catnip to Cats

While cat­nip is gen­er­al­ly safe for cats, it’s impor­tant to be aware of a few con­sid­er­a­tions:

  • Not All Cats Respond to Cat­nip: While most cats are genet­i­cal­ly pre­dis­posed to respond to cat­nip, approx­i­mate­ly 20–30% of cats do not exhib­it any reac­tion. This is per­fect­ly nor­mal, and it does not indi­cate any health issue or lack of enjoy­ment on their part.
  • Vary Cat­nip Expe­ri­ences: To pre­vent habit­u­a­tion, con­sid­er offer­ing cat­nip as an occa­sion­al treat or dur­ing play­time rather than on a dai­ly basis. This can help ensure that your cat con­tin­ues to find cat­nip enjoy­able and stim­u­lat­ing.
  • Mon­i­tor for Over­stim­u­la­tion: Some cats may become over­stim­u­lat­ed by cat­nip, lead­ing to aggres­sive behav­ior or exces­sive ener­gy. If this occurs, it’s best to remove the cat­nip and allow your cat to calm down nat­u­ral­ly.

How to Feed Catnip to Cats: A Quick Guide

Intro­duc­ing cat­nip to your cat can be a sim­ple and delight­ful process. Here’s a quick guide to help you:

Catnip Toy Playtime

1. Pur­chase cat­nip-infused toys from rep­utable pet stores.

2. Offer the toy to your cat and observe their reac­tion.

3. Allow super­vised play­time with the cat­nip toy for about 10–15 min­utes.

4. Store the toy out of reach between play ses­sions to main­tain its poten­cy.

Homemade Catnip Spray

1. Grind dried cat­nip leaves into a fine pow­der using a mor­tar and pes­tle.

2. Mix the pow­dered cat­nip with water to cre­ate a sprayable con­sis­ten­cy.

3. Fill a clean spray bot­tle with the cat­nip mix­ture.

4. Spray a small amount onto fab­ric toys or scratch­ing posts.

5. Observe your cat’s response and adjust the amount of spray as need­ed.

Outdoor Catnip Garden

1. Plant cat­nip in a secure gar­den area or in pots on a bal­cony.

2. Allow your cat super­vised access to the gar­den or bal­cony.

3. Observe their behav­ior and let them enjoy the nat­ur­al stim­u­la­tion of fresh cat­nip leaves.


In sum­ma­ry, cat­nip can be a won­der­ful addi­tion to your cat’s life, pro­vid­ing men­tal stim­u­la­tion, stress relief, exer­cise, and bond­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. It offers numer­ous ben­e­fits with­out pos­ing any sig­nif­i­cant risks to your fur­ry friend’s health. How­ev­er, it’s essen­tial to use cat­nip in mod­er­a­tion, con­sid­er­ing your cat’s indi­vid­ual response and pref­er­ences. By fol­low­ing the rec­om­mend­ed guide­lines, you can ensure a delight­ful and enrich­ing expe­ri­ence for your beloved feline com­pan­ion.