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Can Cats Eat Catnip or Is It Just For Sniffing? Vet Reviewed Facts

cat eating catnip outdoors
Image Credit: Julia Wolf, Flickr
Last Updated on November 23, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

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	Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

MVZ (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Everyone knows that cats love catnip. If you’ve never seen a cat’s reaction to this herb, then you need to because it’s hilarious. Some cats go quite crazy on catnip while others might just sit still and stare at nothing. The effects only last for about 15 minutes at the most, but most cats seem to love this herb and its effects. Luckily, it’s safe for cats to eat, though you won’t want to let your cat overindulge.

cat face divider 2Is Catnip Safe for Cats to Eat?

Catnip is entirely safe for your feline, which is good since it’s sold at pet stores everywhere! It’s normally a sedative for your cat when they eat it. After eating just a little, your cat’s behavior could suddenly change drastically! They might become extremely calm and spaced out, or some cats may become frantic and excited, sprinting through the house. Either way, your cat is in no danger and there will be no lasting effects once the catnip wears off in 5-15 minutes.

cat sniffing catnip
Image Credit: CatCrazy, Pixabay

Does Catnip Have Benefits for Cats?

Nutritionally, there’s not much in catnip to benefit your cat. They normally don’t need to eat many greens to remain healthy. But it does make your cat feel happy, which could be seen as a recreational benefit. It’s somewhat similar to coming home and having a glass of wine or a beer. It makes you feel good and there’s little harm in rational dosages, so, why not?yarn ball divider

How Much Catnip Can I Feed My Cat?

While catnip doesn’t pose any real risk for your furry friend, it’s still a good idea to be cautious about how much you give them.

Cats don’t need to eat many greens since they’re obligate carnivores. Although they do get some greens and grains from their prey’s gastrointestinal contents, their main nutrients are proteins and fats. While cats might nibble on some plants, in reality, catnip doesn’t offer nutritional benefits other than a bit of fiber. Cats are mostly eating plant matter for the feeling it gives them. If they eat too much, they’ll throw it back up or have diarrhea. These are minor concerns, but consequences nonetheless.

cat enjoying cat nip
Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Love Catnip?

For felines, catnip acts as a natural mood enhancer due to a compound called nepetalactone, which may mimic cat pheromones. It can have drastically different effects on different cats, though a large majority of cats do seem attracted to this herb.

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Why Should I Give Catnip to My Cat?

There’s no health reason to give catnip to your cat. It’s not going to make them physically healthier. But there are two good reasons why you might still want to consider providing a bit of catnip for your four-legged partner.

First, most cats just like it. Your cat is likely to enjoy catnip, which you’ll be able to easily tell by their reaction. If they enjoy it and it makes them happier, then why deprive them of the occasional joy?

Second, you can get a great laugh from their reaction! Some cats have hilarious reactions to catnip, completely breaking from their usual personalities. This can make catnip just as fun for you as it is for your cat.

What If My Cat Doesn’t React to Catnip?

While most cats do like catnip, not all cats will be able to feel its effects. About 30% of all felines are immune to catnip and won’t respond to it at all. But for the remaining 70%, catnip is a great bit of fun that they all seem to be attracted to. If your cat is part of the 30% that’s unaffected by catnip, don’t fret. They’ll never know what they’re missing out on!

gray tabby resting on catnip
Image Credit: Kelly Magnuson, Shutterstock

What to Do When Catnip Makes Your Cat Aggressive

Some cats do have an aggressive reaction to catnip, though it’s uncommon. Usually, this aggressive reaction occurs in males. It’s believed that the pheromones mimicked by the active compound in catnip are mating pheromones; explaining the reaction of these cats. If your cat happens to have an aggressive reaction to catnip, then it’s best to simply refrain from providing it for your cat.divider-catclaw1

How to Give Catnip to Your Cat

There are many ways you can give your cat this mood-enhancing herb as a treat. You can simply buy it as a dry herb, such as this 2.25-ounce jar from OurPets Cosmic Catnip. With the dry herb, you can feed it to your cat straight, sprinkle it on their food, or rub it onto a scratcher, making it a versatile way to provide catnip for your pet.

catnip and bee
Image Credit: DanielWanke, Pixabay

Another option is a catnip spray, such as the SmartyKat Catnip Mist Spray. This makes it easy to attract your cat to certain areas rather than others, such as when you need to get them to stop scratching your sofa and start scratching their scratching post! But it’s one of the least effective ways to give your cat the “high” associated with catnip.

Catnip toys are another great way to give your cat a fun time. With a toy like the KONG Refillable Turtle Catnip Cat Toy, they’ll get the fun of digging out the catnip, plus its intoxicating effects. But you’ll still need some catnip to put inside, making this a half solution.

cat paw dividerConclusion

Catnip is entirely safe for your cat and can provide them with 5-15 feelings of enhanced mood and great feelings. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy watching their hilarious antics during that time, making it a win-win for you both. There are many ways you can provide this treat for your feline, but be sure not to feed them too much or they’re liable to puke it back up.

Featured Image Credit: Julia Wolf, Flickr

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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