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Can Catnip Cause Seizures in Cats? Feline Facts & FAQs

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 17, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Can Catnip Cause Seizures in Cats? Feline Facts & FAQs

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a small flowering herb related to the mint family, which is also known as catmint. Catnip is well known to cat owners as a source of entertainment for both themselves and their cats, and it is generally considered safe and doesn’t cause seizures in cats.

The effects of catnip on a cat’s well-being (such as relaxation and euphoria) are well documented. Catnip is a good source of enrichment for a cat, and it can be given in various ways, including tinctures, dried leaves, fresh from the garden, or dried leaves sewn into toys.

However, some cat owners should limit their use of catnip or try to avoid it altogether. For example, cats suffering from seizures, such as those with epilepsy, should steer clear of catnip, as research on rats suffering from seizure disorders has shown that catnip can cause a rise in seizures.

Pregnant cats should also have catnip restricted since it has been shown to have mild uterine stimulating effects, and nepetalactone passes across the placenta. While it’s unlikely to cause any harm to the mother or kittens, it is better to avoid it just in case.

Catnip is generally considered very safe for all cats, and there are no known cases of catnip causing seizures in cats, even after ingesting large amounts.

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Is Catnip Addictive?

Catnip isn’t addictive. The effects of catnip ingestion or inhalation only last for around 15 minutes, and despite its effects on the opioid system in the cat’s body, there is an olfactory “cooldown” of around an hour after the effects of the catnip have worn off. That means the cat cannot react to it again in the 1-hour timeframe.

Frequent exposure to catnip can lessen its effects over time, and there is no indication that catnip is addictive.

cat smelling catnip
Image By: Kassel95, Pixabay

Can Cats Overdose on Catnip?

Cats cannot overdose on catnip, and it isn’t dangerous for them to ingest large amounts, although if they eat too much catnip at once, they might get gastrointestinal upset (such as vomiting and diarrhea).

Cats that are already unwell or suffer from severe vomiting/diarrhea after eating large aunts of catnip may need to see a veterinarian for supportive treatment, but this is very rare and completely avoidable if cats are only given a small amount of catnip at a time.

cat with green eyes in catnip
Image By: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Catnip is a safe, highly studied, and documented plant that your cat can enjoy without worrying about any side effects except potentially mild diarrhea or vomiting if they eat very large amounts of it.

In addition, there have been no documented cases of catnip causing seizures in cats. While one small study found that rats with seizure disorders experienced more frequent episodes after being exposed to catnip, it is unlikely to happen with your cat. With veterinary guidance, even older cats should be able to enjoy the joy catnip brings safely.

Featured Image Credit: R. E. Beck, Pixabay

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