Can Cats Eat Fresh Catnip?

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

It’s a question every cat owner has asked at one point or another. Can cats eat fresh catnip? The answer may surprise you.

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Yes, cats can eat fresh catnip. In fact, many cats love the taste of fresh catnip and it can be a great way to encourage them to eat their greens. However, it is important to note that too much catnip can cause gastrointestinal upset in some cats, so it is best to give it to them in moderation.

What is Catnip?

Catnip, (Nepeta cataria), also called catmint, is a member of the mint family that is known for its intoxicating effects on cats. The herb can cause a reaction in up to 70% of all cats.

The plant’s chemical substances, nepetalactone and nepetalactol, are found in the leaves and stem. These chemicals mimic feline pheromones, which results in the desired reaction when a cat smells or ingests them. The reaction is usually characterized by clawing, biting, head shaking, drooling, and rolling around. In some cases, cats may become aggressive. The effects last for 5-15 minutes before wearing off and they typically recur if the cat encounters catnip again within a few hours.

While the plant is considered non-toxic to cats, it’s generally best to limit their exposure to avoid any adverse reaction. If you grow catnip or have it in your home, you may want to keep it away from curious kitties until you’re ready to offer it to them as a treat.

What are the benefits of Catnip?

Catnip is a herb from the mint family that is well known for its effects on cats. When cats smell catnip, they may roll around, rub their face in it, meow or make other happy sounds. Some cats will even eat fresh or dried catnip.

While the effects of catnip only last for a short time, many cats enjoy these episodes and will seek out fresh or dried catnip on a regular basis. Some people believe that catnip can help keep their cats calm and relaxed, while others simply enjoy watching their cat’s reaction to the herb.

There are no known side effects of catnip for cats, and it is generally considered to be safe for them to consume in small amounts. However, if your cat eats too much catnip, they may vomit or have diarrhea. If your cat seems to be having any negative reaction to catnip, it is best to stop giving it to them and consult your veterinarian.

How to prepare Catnip for your Cat

There are a few different ways that you can prepare catnip for your cat. The most important thing is to make sure that the plant is fresh and not wilted. You can give your cat a small handful of fresh catnip leaves to chew on, or you can roll them up into a little ball. Some cats also like to eat fresh catnip right off the stem. If you have a large amount of fresh catnip, you can also dry it and store it in a plastic bag for later use.

How to introduce Catnip to your Cat

If you have never given your cat catnip, start by introducing it in small amounts. Put a pinch of dried catnip or a couple of leaves in a clean bowl and place it where your cat can find it. You can also buy fresh catnip and pluck a few leaves off the plant to give to your kitty.

Fresh or dried, catnip usually elicits the same reaction from cats. After smelling or tasting it, some will roll around in ecstasy while others will become more playful. A minority of cats will have no reaction at all to catnip. If your cat does not respond to fresh or dried catnip, there is no need to worry; there is no evidence that ingesting small amounts of catnip is harmful to cats.

What are the side effects of Catnip?

While most kitties love the fresh herb, some may experience side effects, such as:
-Digestive upset: Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can occur if your cat eats too much catnip.
-Allergic reaction: Some kitties may be allergic to catnip and develop a rash or hives. If you notice any of these signs, stop giving your cat the herb and contact your veterinarian.
-Hyperactivity: Catnip can cause hyperactive behavior in some kitties, including running, rolling and bouncing off furniture. This effect usually wears off after 10 to 15 minutes.


Yes, cats can eat fresh catnip. In fact, many veterinarians recommend giving fresh catnip to cats as a treats because it is a safe and healthy way for them to consume this herb. Fresh catnip is also less likely to cause digestive issues than dry catnip.

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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


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