Can Cats Eat Cat Nip?

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Can Cats Eat Cat Nip?

The answer may surprise you.

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Cats are curious creatures, and they often like to nibble on things that they shouldn’t. Catnip is one of those things. Many people wonder if it’s safe for cats to eat catnip, and the answer is yes – in moderation.

Catnip is a plant in the mint family, and its scientific name is Nepeta cataria. It’s native to Europe and Asia, but it now grows in many parts of the world. The leaves and stems of the plant contain a chemical called nepetalactone, which is what attracts cats to it.

When a cat smells catnip, the nepetalactone binds to receptors in their nose, which causes them to experience a range of different sensations. Some cats will become more playful, while others will become more relaxed. Some will even roll around on the ground or rub their face in the plant. The effects of catnip usually last for around 10 minutes before wearing off.

Eating catnip is different from smelling it. When cats eat catnip, it can cause them to salivate more than normal and might make them feel a bit nauseous. However, it’s generally not harmful and most cats recover quickly from any temporary effects.

If you’re growing catnip in your garden, make sure that your cat can’t get at it too easily. Eating large quantities of the plant could potentially lead to vomiting and diarrhea. If you have any concerns about your cat’s health, please speak to a vet ASAP.

What is Cat Nip?

Cat nip (Nepeta cataria) is a member of the mint family that is well known for its effects on cats. Both domestic and wild cats enjoy rubbing their bodies in the leaves, rolling on the ground, and even eating it. The plant contains a chemical compound called nepetalactone, which is similar to a chemical found in valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) that also has calming effects on cats.

The Benefits of Cat Nip

Most people are familiar with catnip (Nepeta cataria) as the plant that drives some cats wild. rubbing their bodies all over it, eating it, or just plain rolling around in it. Some will even appear to go into a catnip-induced euphoria, meowing and purring excessively. However, not all cats react to catnip in this way; about 30% of cats are not affected by it at all. It seems that sensitivity to catnip is genetic and passed down from generation to generation.

So what exactly is going on when a cat appears to “go crazy” after smelling or ingesting catnip? The active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone, a chemical compound similar to those found in mint plants. When cats smell nepetalactone, it binds to receptors in their noses and causes them to experience a range of pleasurable sensations. Some cats may become more playful, while others may become more relaxed or even purr excessively. The effects usually last for about 10 minutes before wearing off and do not appear to be harmful to cats in any way.

The Risks of Cat Nip

While there are no known risks associated with catnip for cats, there are a few potential risks that you should be aware of. One potential risk is that your cat may eat too much catnip and become sick. If your cat consumes a large amount of catnip, he or she may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive drooling. If your cat displays any of these symptoms, it is best to take him or her to the vet immediately.

Another potential risk is that catnip may make your cat hyperactive or anxious. If your cat becomes anxious or stressed after consuming catnip, it is best to remove the plant from his or her environment and try another method of providing entertainment, such as a scratching post or toy.

Finally, some cats may react aggressively to cat nip. If your cat becomes aggressive after consuming catnip, it is best to remove the plant from his or her environment and provide another form of entertainment.

How to Introduce Cat Nip to Your Cat

If your cat has never had catnip before, it is best to introduce it gradually. Start by offering a small amount of dried or fresh catnip in a safe place, such as a cat bed or scratching post. If your cat does not seem interested, try again later. Some cats may take a few days or even weeks to show an interest in catnip.

How Much Cat Nip Should You Give Your Cat?

Most cats love catnip, but some are not affected by it. If your cat does not respond to catnip, don’t worry – there is nothing wrong with him or her. About one-third of cats do not have the gene that makes them react to catnip.

If your cat does enjoy catnip, there is no need to limit the amount he or she receives. Most commercial catnips sold in pet stores are perfectly safe, although some may be more potent than others. If you grow your own catnip, be sure to harvest it before the plant flowers, as this is when the volatile oils that give the plant its scent are at their strongest.

Signs That Your Cat Has Had Too Much Cat Nip

If your cat has had too much catnip, you may notice some of the following signs:
-Lethargy or sleepiness
-Unsteadiness on their feet
-Loss of appetite


While there are benefits to catnip for cats, there are also some risks. If you decide to give catnip to your cat, do so in moderation and make sure they have plenty of fresh water available.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books