Can Cats Eat Catnip? 10 Facts Revealed

Many people are familiar with catnip, but few understand the plant’s scientific classification or how it influences feline disposition and behavior.

You’ll find some answers to questions like “Why do cats go crazy for catnip?” and “Can a cat have too much catnip?” in this article.

Can Cats Eat Catnip?

Although it’s commonly believed that all cats react positively to catnip, this isn’t always the case. However, only about half of cats, per PetMD, are particularly drawn to its alluring aroma. Other cats may show only a passing interest, if any.

Catnip sensitivity doesn’t appear in young kittens, so don’t rush out and buy some to try if you want to see if your cat likes it.

Toys stuffed with catnip are one thing, but feeding it to a cat is another. Catnip has a calming effect when consumed by a feline. After ingesting some, your cat may decide to take a lengthy nap.

In other words, ingesting catnip won’t hurt you and won’t make you high. One can have “too much” of a good thing, however. Catnip is more of a herb than a food, so if your cat eats too much of it, it could cause an upset stomach.

What Does Catnip Do to Cats? The Science Behind Catnip's Effect on Cats

What Is Catnip?

Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, belongs to the mint family and is a common garden herb.

It has feathery, light-green foliage and lavender flowers, and it grows easily in North America.

The flowers of the catnip plant are said to alleviate coughs, and the leaves have been used to make tea. Some all-natural bug sprays also rely heavily on it.

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What Does Catnip Do to Cats? How Does Catnip Work?

The vomeronasal gland, located on the roof of a cat’s mouth, is an additional organ used for detecting odors. Scents picked up by the nose and mouth can make their way to the brain via this route.

Catnip leaves contain an oil called nepetalactone, which has been shown to alter feline demeanor. Cats can only be exposed to this chemical through olfactory means.

Catnip stimulates the release of hormones similar to those produced by a female cat in heat, so cats who consume it (both male and female) often exhibit behaviors characteristic of a cat in heat.

Such actions may include demonstrative displays of love, calm, or joy. Some felines are more active than others, exhibiting traits like playfulness and even aggression.

Cats that have had good experiences with catnip report that it helps ease their anxiety and sometimes even their pain.

If your cat will be home alone for an extended period of time, catnip may help ease its anxiety, according to some veterinarians.

Can Cats Eat Catnip? - Catster

Does Catnip Work on All Cats?

The psychoactive ingredient in catnip does not work on every cat. Approximately 60% of cats, according to veterinary studies, show some sort of behavioral reaction when exposed to catnip. Try silver vine if catnip fails to entice your feline friend.

Cats’ receptivity to catnip appears to be a genetically dominant trait as well.

Health (and Other) Benefits of Catnip

This minty, lemony herb, also known as Nepeta cataria, has been used in toys to train cats and grows easily in a windowsill. Dried catnip can be found in the freezer section of the store, where it is kept in an airtight container to preserve its aroma.

Scientists claim that catnip completely overwhelms a cat’s sense of smell. Hyperactivity and other strange actions, such as cats rolling around the floor in ecstasy, are possible side effects of catnip. Your cat is having a fantastic time, so relax.

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The scent of catnip may be lost after being exposed to air or rubbed off by your cat, so if you find it has been completely discarded the following day, it is likely due to one of these two factors.

Cats become more active just from sniffing it, but eating it has the opposite effect. Like chamomile, catnip has calming effects and has been used for both humans and cats. Catnip tea is a popular remedy for stress and sleeplessness among humans. It has a calming effect on cats when consumed orally.

How Long Does Catnip Last?

How long a cat reacts to catnip depends on the cat. The effects of sniffing catnip typically last for about 10 minutes before fading away.

Can Cats Eat Catnip? | The Vets Blog

Once the cat has gone 30 minutes without smelling catnip, it may once again be susceptible to its effects.

Catnip loses its effectiveness over time, so it’s best to store it in an airtight container to prolong its shelf life.

Can Kittens Have Catnip?

While catnip poses no health risks to kittens, most felines don’t show any interest in it until they’re between 6 and 12 months old.

There are always going to be exceptions to the rule, though, and some cats will gradually become more sensitive as they age.

Can Cats Overdose on Catnip?

An overdose of catnip can lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and even trouble walking. You should only give your cat a tiny bit at a time, and your vet can help you figure out how much is safe.

You won’t need to give your cat as much fresh catnip as you would of the dried variety. Due to their potency, highly concentrated catnip oils should be avoided as well.

How to Use Catnip

Catnip comes in a wide variety of forms:

  • Having your own freshly-grown catnip plant.
  • Powdered catnip
  • Sprays or bubbles of catnip
  • Dried catnip-filled toys
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If your cat experiences stomach distress after ingesting catnip, you may want to try a catnip spray instead. You can spray your cat’s scratching post, cat tree, or other favorite cat accessory. You can also roll a toy in dried catnip, or sprinkle it on a cat tree, scratching post, or cardboard scratcher.

Here are a few of the best-recommended catnip products:

  • Yeowww!  the catnip industry
  • Catnip toys from KONG.

Can Cats Eat Catnip? -

Alternative Healthy Snacks

Catnip is not particularly nutritious, so it isn’t the best choice when looking for treats to supplement your cat’s diet. Your cat prefers meat-based products because it is an obligate carnivore. Vegetables are a great option if you’re looking for suggestions that don’t involve meat.

Cat owners can try feeding their pets a diet high in vegetables by hiding them in food or treats. Gary Richter, DVM, owner of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California, and medical director of Holistic Veterinary Care, tells Rover that “not all will eat them.” When consumed as part of a well-rounded meal, vegetables provide beneficial nutrients.

The American SPCA says these vegetables are safe for cats to eat:

  • Zucchini
  • Celery (the crunchy is what they crave!)
  • Carrots
  • Peppers, green
  • Vitamins A, C, and K abound in spinach.
  • Peas (a nutrient-rich ingredient commonly included in commercially prepared pet food)
  • Pumpkin (Pumpkin is commonly fed to cats to increase their fiber intake)
  • Broccoli

Fruit, with its high carbohydrate and sugar content, can be harmful to your cat’s diet, whereas vegetables can be beneficial. Choose the vegetables, but don’t make them your cat’s sole source of nutrition; otherwise, she won’t get the benefits of quality cat food.

The majority of a cat’s diet, according to Dr. Richter, should consist of a healthy variety of foods. The majority of their diet shouldn’t consist of treats because they’re not well-balanced.

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