Toxic plants

Is Catnip Toxic To Cats?

by Clair Chesterman
Is Catnip Toxic To Cats? 

Catnip or also called Catswort and Catmint is loved by most cats due it contains nepetalactone which attracts them. The aroma of nepetalactone attaches to receptors in cats’ nostrils, causing them to exhibit ecstatic behavior such as jumping, drooling, rubbing, licking, and rolling on the ground. The overall effects of catnip on cats can be compared to humans’ response to narcotic drugs though, not all cats are affected the same way.

Catnip does not appear to be hazardous to cats or young kittens. However, if they consume a large amount of fresh or dry catnip leaves, they may experience stomach distress, vomiting, or diarrhea.

What Is Catnip?

Catnip with a cat in the background

Catnip, also known for its scientific name nepeta cataria, is a perennial herbaceous plant. Although dried catnip looks like oregano, it is actually a mint. It was brought to North America from Europe, Africa, and Asia and today flourishes like a weed in every place. It grows around two to three feet in height. Catnips have distinct heart-shaped leaves and little white, blue, pink, or purple blossoms on their stems.

Clinical Signs of Catnip Poisoning in Cats

Catnip and cats

Though catnip poisoning symptoms are only mild, going to the vet is still recommended especially if the symptoms do not go away immediately. Symptoms that may occur when a cat consumed a lot of catnips are:

First Aid and Treatment of Catnip Poisoning in Cats

Catnip with a cat trying to sniff it

Because catnip poisoning is primarily caused by a stimulant overload, there is no specific treatment. The poisons can be eliminated by the cat’s body on its own by digesting and excreting them through a bowel movement. In case of severe diarrhea and vomiting, you should bring your cat to the veterinarian for appropriate treatment. The veterinarian may also prescribe anti-vomiting and anti-diarrhea medications.

Recovery from Catnip Poisoning in Cats

Catnip poisoning has only a few hours of toxic effects in cats. Cats usually recover on their own, and in most cases, without the need for veterinary care. For severe cases of diarrhea and vomiting, your vet would most likely recommend giving your cat an ample supply of fluids to continue washing away the remaining toxins from his or her stomach.

Prevention of Catnip Poisoning in Cats

Keep any catnip plants out of reach of your cat’s paws. While a little nibbling on the leaves is unlikely to harm your cat, excessive consumption is not good for him. In any case, catnip should be used sparingly as an occasional, enjoyable treat for your cat.

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

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