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How Safe Is Catnip for Kittens?

Catnip is generally safe for kittens.
The catnip herb contains an ingredient that many cats react to.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
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Catnip is a perennial herb, which means it grows through more than one growing season, and it contains an ingredient called nepetalactone. It is this naturally occurring chemical that kittens and cats react to by becoming more active, purring, and rolling, or even licking and drooling — some may eat the catnip as well. This is generally safe, as catnip isn't toxic. It is generally considered safe to use catnip for kittens, but it is important to note that some cats may not prove very interested in the herb, especially kittens that are younger than two to three months old and some elderly cats.

Often, people question whether it is safe to use catnip for kittens for a couple of reasons. First, they may question whether a kitten's system will prove more vulnerable to something harmful that could be in the catnip. Second, they may wonder whether any ingredients in the catnip could be generally harmful. The good news is, catnip is non-toxic to cats of any age, including kittens.

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One thing that is important to note about using catnip for kittens is that some may attempt to eat it in addition to just sniffing it or playing with it inside of a pet toy. Eating a small amount of catnip is unlikely to cause a cat any harm. If the cat eats it in extremely large amounts, however, he may vomit or develop diarrhea. Still, it is unlikely to cause any serious or lasting effects when it is ingested.

Scientists believe that the chemical nepetalactone is responsible for the cats' favorable responses to catnip, as it produces the same sort of reactions as sex pheromones in cats and kittens. The reactions, however, may vary from kitten to kitten. Some may seemed lulled by it while others become very excited and frisky. Many cats like to rub or roll over catnip or an item containing it, and paw or claw at it. Additionally, some become very jumpy and playful in its presence, and many lick, sniff, and nibble on it as well.

Despite the fact that using catnip for kittens is considered safe, it is important to note that some cats may not seem as interested in it as others. For example, kittens who are younger than about two to three months old are often disinterested in it. Likewise, elderly cats may not seem as interested as younger cats.

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Discuss this Article

stoneMason
Post 3

Every cat is a little different. Some kittens don't like catnip until they're older, others start playing with it when they're around 3 months.

I know that catnip is safe for kittens but I don't give it to my kitten because I don't want to expose him to it just yet. I only use catnip to help my cats relax when they're home alone, when we have to travel, or see the vet.

Also, catnip doesn't make all cats relax. Some cats become aggressive and overactive with catnip. Kittens are already very active so I don't think they need additional stimulation.

donasmrs
Post 2

@SarahGen-- Can you call your vet and ask? And can you call the manufacturer to ask about the catnip?

Usually the catnip in toys is just dry catnip leaves. It's not a problem if cats eat a little bit of it.

I'm actually surprised that your kitten reacted to the catnip because most kittens don't. How many months is she? My cat was well over a year when he started reacting to loose catnip and catnip toys. He didn't care at all until then.

SarahGen
Post 1

My kitten was playing with a catnip toy a few hours ago. The toy tore and some catnip came out. By the time I took the toy and cleaned up the catnip, she ate a little bit of it. Should I be worried?

She is fine right now, she doesn't appear sick. But I'm worried about the type of catnip in the toy.

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