Can Cats Eat Catnip?

  • Cats can safely munch on catnip (just not too often). 🌿✔️
  • You can also use catnip as an enticing addition to their meal. 😺
  • While smelling catnip causes cats to “go crazy,” eating it will calm them down and make them go to sleep. 😴
  • Keep an eye on your pet and make sure they’re behaving normally after eating the plant. 🙀

What Is Catnip?

Catnip is a herbaceous flowering plant with square stems and toothed leaves. The flowers are white, pink or lavender, and produced in whorls around the stem. The name catnip is derived from the words cat and nip, which is a variant of nep, as in Latin nepeta (“catnip”). The plant grows to about 3 feet tall and has a sweet, minty smell.

What Is Catnip?

Benefits of Catnip for Humans

The leaves and flowering tops are used as a medicinal herb to calm the nerves (it also promotes sleep, and eases anxiety!). Catnip can also be used to make a tea that is drunk to relieve colds and flu symptoms. Cat owners aren’t the only ones who swear by it!

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Catnip is a safe herb for both children and adults. It can be taken daily without any adverse side effects. But can cats eat catnip? And what are possible adverse effects on our feline friends?

Effects of Catnip on Cats

Cats react to catnip in a number of different ways. You can expect:

  • playfulness;
  • bursts of energy;
  • vocal recitals;
  • sleepiness;
  • calm and happy vibes. 

In other words 😺: 

Cats love catnip because it makes them feel good. 

Catnip and Nepetalactone

Catnip is loaded with a special compound – nepetalactone. Now, this little wonder is what tickles your kitty’s senses when they nibble catnip. How? Once it’s in their system, it boogies up to brain receptors linked to smells and gives them a case of the feel-goods. Some say nepetalactone’s like a cat’s own perfume – a pheromone.

Now, these pheromones are nature’s chat app for animals. Not just for flirting, they also shout out “This is my turf!” or “Danger, danger!”. With catnip, it’s nepetalactone’s pheromone mimicking power that might just turn your kitty into a prancing, chatty fur-ball!

Can Cats Eat Catnip Safely?

Now, let’s get back to our main question. Can cats eat catnip, or should you discourage it? Good news, friends! Kitties can nibble catnip leaves, fresh or dried, no problem.

Can Cats Eat Catnip Safely?

Here’s a fun fact – cats respond differently when they eat catnip versus just sniffing it. The munch might turn them into purring, drooling bundles of relaxation, ready to snooze away. Just remember, moderation is key! Too much of a good thing could lead to a grouchy, grumbly cat-tummy.

Editor’s Note 🐈

Not all cats respond to catnip in the same way. Some may not show any reaction besides sitting like a sphinx (or loaf), while others have a very active response. This has to do with how their genes are programmed. 

Does Sniffing the Catnip Plant Work on Kittens?

Kittens only start being affected by catnip when they turn 3–6 months old. This is probably because young kittens aren’t sexually mature yet, and catnip oil mimics pheromones. It’s actually been proven that kittens don’t prefer catnip toys or scratchers over regular ones.

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How Much Dry or Fresh Catnip Is Safe For Cats To Eat?

Absolutely! Just remember, though, that while some kitties happily chow down without a care, others might end up with rumbly tummies. Concerned about overdoing it? Opt for fresh leaves over dried, it’s a safer bet. As a guide, a pinch (1/4 teaspoon) of dried catnip, or a couple spoonfuls (2 teaspoons) of fresh greens is plenty for a day.

Fear not, there’s no catnip overdose crisis looming! Still, too much could lead to a snoozy kitty or tummy troubles. A catnip fiesta should be fun, not an upset-stomach fest! Signs that your kitty ate too much are:

  • vocalizing more than usual;
  • being hyper and restless;
  • having diarrhea.
How Much Dry or Fresh Catnip Is Safe For Cats To Eat?

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Cats Supposed to Eat Catnip or Just Smell It? 👃

Nibbling on a few leaves while “under the influence” of catnip is completely normal. They can do whatever they want with it (as long as supervised, of course).

How Much Catnip Can I Give My Cat? 🌿

About 1/4 teaspoon of dried leaves, or 2 teaspoons of fresh leaves at a time. A little bit more than that is safe as well, think of our servings as more of the baseline. 

Do Cats Feel High on Catnip? 🥴

Many cats do seem to have a “high” effect after they’ve eaten some catnip. Their behavior may become more relaxed, affectionate, and vocal. But is it high? We may never know. 


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