The short answer: Yes, but in moderation.
The long answer: Also known as catmint, catwort, and field balm, catnip is a common herb that is a member of the mint family. It originated from the Mediterranean and Northern Africa, and is known for being loved by most cats. Just a whiff of the scent can make a cat exhibit affection, happiness, playfulness, or even aggression.
Eating catnip, however, produces the opposite result. Whether it’s consumed fresh or dried, catnip can help reduce pain or make a cat feel less stressed. It can also be a digestive aid, but too much of it may cause stomach upset. Vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, or difficulty in walking are other unwanted side effects.
How to feed catnip to your cat: Speak with your veterinarian to find out how much catnip your cat can safely consume. You can feed fresh or dried catnip on its own, or combine it with cat-friendly ingredients and serve them as treats.
Remember that fresh catnip is more potent than dried varieties. Store dried catnip in the freezer to help the essential oils stay longer. If your cat has a sensitive stomach but enjoys eating catnip, you can also spritz catnip spray on her favourite toy or scratcher.
Here are three ideas for catnip treats your cat will love:
- All you need are carrots and catnip for these bite-sized treats.
- Try making these savory kitty cookies for Kitty!
- Blend wet cat food and catnip to recreate this baked recipe.
In summary: A natural mood enhancer, catnip may be fed to your cat in small amounts to make her feel calm. If you have a cat experiencing separation anxiety, feeding her catnip may help her become relaxed just before you leave. Its effects may last from 5 to 15 minutes at a time. However, it has been reported that about 30% of cats are not affected by the herb.