A cat playing with catnip


Can cats eat catnip? Everythig you need to know

There’s nothing better than watching cats roll, rub, and play with catnip. But have you ever wondered if cats can eat catnip? In this detailed guide, we’ll delve into its origins, and its effects on cats, and provide essential tips on how to introduce it to your furry friend in the best possible way.

What is Catnip?

Catnip, scientifically called Nepeta cataria, is a type of plant that belongs to the mint family. It’s a perennial herb that naturally grows in Europe and Asia. The distinct characteristics of this plant include its jagged heart-shaped leaves and thick stems, which are covered in soft, fuzzy hairs. When it blossoms, it forms clusters of petite flowers that can display hues of white or purple.


Why do cats like catnip?

What makes cats absolutely crazy about this plant is the active compound it contains, called nepetalactone. When our feline friends come into contact with catnip, the nepetalactone molecules interact with their olfactory receptors and trigger a series of responses in their brains.


It is important to keep in mind that each cat’s response to catnip may be different. In approximately 60% of the cases, cats may begin rolling, rubbing, purring, and jumping as soon as they are exposed to it.

Is Catnip Safe for Cats?

Rest assured, catnip is generally safe for cats. As long as it is consumed in small quantities, it is not harmful to them. In fact, catnip can benefit our furry friends, providing mental and physical stimulation, reducing anxiety, and encouraging exercise.

Benefits from catnip

In addition to serving as a fantastic way to combat boredom, catnip can also serve as an aid to training. Let’s explore how catnip can keep your cat engaged and redirect unwanted behaviors.

Boredom Buster

Cats often find immense joy in playing with catnip-infused toys. The herb’s enticing scent and effects can capture their attention. Playing with catnip-infused toys can be a wonderful way to combat boredom and provide mental and physical stimulation for your cat.

Training Aid

If you’re dealing with unwanted behaviors, such as your cat scratching furniture, catnip can come to the rescue. By rubbing a small amount of catnip onto your cat’s scratching post regularly, you can encourage them to redirect their scratching instincts to the appropriate area.

Encourage Exploration

If there’s a specific area or space you want your cat to explore, try sprinkling some loose catnip in that location. The enticing scent may pique their curiosity and encourage them to investigate the new space

Reducing Anxiety

Catnip can be useful when introducing your cat to a new feline companion. Using catnip in a controlled and supervised manner during initial interactions can help reduce anxiety and create a more relaxed environment for both cats.

Relaxation during Travel

For cats who experience stress during car rides or visits to the veterinarian, placing a small amount of catnip in their carrier can help promote a sense of relaxation and ease their anxiety.

How to Introduce Catnip to Your Cat

If you’re considering introducing catnip to your cat for the first time, it’s best to start with small quantities until you know if your cat enjoys it. Luckily, introducing catnip is a straightforward process that can be done in various ways. Let’s explore some simple methods.

Catnip treats

If you’re looking for an enjoyable and tasty way for your furry friend to indulge in catnip, catnip treats are an excellent choice. But keep in mind, that the treats must maximum of 10% of your cat’s daily calorie intake.

Grow fresh catnip

Growing fresh catnip plants at home is a convenient and rewarding way to ensure a constant supply of this magical herb. Not only that, but fresh catnip tends to be more potent compared to its dried counterparts.

As the catnip plant grows, you can begin harvesting a few leaves. Trim them gently and offer them to your cat, who can indulge in the magical effects of this herb by eating, chewing, sniffing, or rubbing against the leaves.

However, it’s crucial to consider the catnip plant’s placement. Keep it in an area where your cat cannot access it freely. By doing so, you maintain control over when and how your cat interacts with fresh catnip. This precaution helps prevent overconsumption or plant damage.

Catnip Toys

Purchase a catnip-infused toy specifically designed for feline enjoyment. This allows your cat to interact with catnip in a controlled manner. Observe their reaction to determine if they are attracted to the toy and engage with it.

Sprinkle on Toys or Scratching Posts

Another approach is to sprinkle a small amount of loose catnip directly onto your cat’s toys or scratching posts. This allows them to experience the scent and effects of catnip while engaging in play or scratching behaviors.

Can cats eat catnip?

Let’s explore the effects of ingesting catnip and how it can affect your furry friend’s behavior and well-being.

When cats eat catnip, it has a different impact compared to simply smelling it. The herb acts as a mild sedative, which means your cat may feel more relaxed and sleepy after eating it. It’s not uncommon to find your cat taking a long nap after eating some catnip.

While catnip itself is safe for cats to eat and has no addictive qualities, moderation is key. Catnip is more like an herb, like parsley or basil, rather than a staple food. If your cat eats excessive amounts of catnip, it can lead to an upset stomach.

In other words, it’s perfectly fine for your cat to enjoy a taste of catnip, but too much of it can have consequences.


Keep in mind that catnip should be used in small quantities and not as a substitute for a balanced diet.

If you notice any signs of digestive discomfort or your cat’s behavior becomes unusual after consuming a large amount of catnip, it’s advisable to consult your veterinarian for guidance.

Can Cats Overdose on Catnip?

While catnip is generally safe for cats, it’s essential to monitor its quantity. Ingesting a lot of it can potentially lead to symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea. However, it’s important to note that such reactions are typically mild and self-limiting. Fortunately, most cats do not consume enough catnip to reach levels that would make them sick.

Final Thoughts

Catnip holds a special place in our feline friends’ hearts. Now that you understand the ins and outs of catnip, from its origins and effects to its safety and proper usage, you can confidently incorporate it into your cat’s life.

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