Can Cats Eat Catnip?

Being a responsible cat owner means that you need to do the very best for your cat, so let’s find out if you can feed your cat some catnip or if they eat it will it cause your cat any serious problems.

It won’t hurt for cats to eat the catnip herb in small doses. However, added catnip as part of their well-balanced meal is unnecessary. Consumed in large amounts can cause your cat to have an upset stomach. Catnip is best not served for cats to eat but rather within their toys for some excitement. Catnip will help your cat with boredom, weight loss and reduces stress.

What is catnip?

Catnip ‘scientific name Nepeta cataria’ is a herb, and it’s from the same family as the mint plant ‘Lamiaceae family’.

close up of the catnip plant, with buds on, blurred background.
Catnip Plant

Catnip Also Known As

  • Catmint
  • Catswort
  • Catwort
  • Nepeta cataria (Scientific name)

Where does catnip come from?

  • Central Asia
  • Eastern Europe
  • Middle East
  • Parts of China
  • Southern Europe

Why do cats go crazy around catnip?

When the catnip plant ruptures, it releases nepetalactone into the air, and it’s these nepetalactone essential oils that cause a cat’s brain activity to increase with happiness and excitement, shortly followed by a mellowed state.

Ginger cat rolling in catnip
Cats love catnip

How long does the effect of catnip last?

When a cat sniffs catnip, the effects can last around ten minutes at a time; after this time, a cat will mellow. After that, a cat won’t get the same results from catnip until at least two hours after. 

Does catnip affect all cats?

No catnip doesn’t affect all cats. On average, several studies show that it affects 60% to 80% of all cats.

Sniffing Catnip vs Eating Catnip

Catnip affects the feline happy receptors when sniffed within a toy and makes the cat playful, eventually mellow. However, when catnip is consumed, it has a mellow reaction only.

Excessive Eating of Catnip (Warning)

Don’t let your cat excessively eat catnip as it can cause an upset stomach in cats, resulting in vomiting and diarrhoea, which can lead to potentially serious health problems such as dehydration. It is okay in moderation only.

Dried catnipTeaspoon
Fresh catnipSmall palm-size amount
How much catnip is okay

Benefits of Catnip

Catnip has several good qualities when it comes to cats, its perfect for new cats that you’re introducing into a new home. See the below list for other benefits of catnip.

  • Aids weight loss through movement
  • Excitement
  • Helps with boredom
  • Lowers anxiety
  • Reduces stress

Catnip Facts

  • Catnip can clean wounds it’s an natural antibacterial
  • Catnip can help humans with headaches
  • Catnip can help humans with insomnia
  • Catnip, when eaten, causes mellow activity only in cats
  • Catnip, when sniffed, causes excitement followed by mellowness
  • Lions and Tigers can also feel the effect of catnip
  • Natural mosquito repellant


Meanwhile, it won’t hurt your cat if they nibble on some catnip fresh or dried. Just make sure not to overfeed them. It is best to be used in toys rather than consumed by a cat if any upset tummies. Although if you can control the portion size, you can decide for your cat.

Happy Cat Parenting!

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By Teresa Mine

Teresa has studied canine behaviour and canine nutrition. She loves sharing her knowledge and educating through her articles. She loves binge-watching animal documentaries. Teresa has some pets; she adores two dogs, two cats, and one hamster.