Catnip poisoning in cats

This is a red herring in my considered opinion. There are indications that people are using Google to search for “catnip poisoning in cats”. There is one well-known website which discusses this topic together with symptoms, causes and diagnosis but they have nothing to say as is the case for all other major websites on this topic. They say that if a cat eats too much catnip they might vomit and have diarrhoea. That’s about it. That is not, in my view, poisoning per se but just overindulging by ingesting too much of a something that cats, in general, enjoy. Not every cat actually eats catnip. Normally it’s just the chemical, nepetalactone, given off by powdered catnip when it is manipulated by cats, which has the necessary effect.

Sphynx cat eating catnip is a shocker
Sphynx cat eating catnip is a shocker. Photo: Andrew Marttila
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Everything said and known about catnip indicates that it is non-addictive and harmless when used in the long-term. This may surprise people it seems that all human drugs have some negative side effect down the line. Perhaps the important point to make is that although domestic cats normally like catnip and react to it positively they naturally stop after about 5-10 minutes.

RELATED: Why do some cats not react to catnip?

Sometimes, as mentioned, they might eat a bit of it because there are so turned on by the nepetalactone, but that’s about it.

I wouldn’t worry about catnip poisoning in cats because I don’t think it really happens. I say “really happens” because as mentioned an overdose might cause vomiting but cats are very good vomiters anyway, although I don’t want to downplay this potential. Although I would reckon that it is very rare for a cat to overdose when ingesting nepetalactone.

RELATED: How catnip works as an ancient and natural mosquito repellent

To the best of my knowledge, there been no reports of cats being hospitalised to treat catnip poisoning. I have checked out Google scholar studies about catnip poisoning and there are no studies on this. If it was a genuine issue scientists would have assessed the exact causes and effect by now but they haven’t.

It’s worth mentioning that catnip sensitivity is hereditary and age-based. Veterinarians will probably confirm that about 25% of all adult cats and young kittens are unaffected by nepetalactone.

You may have seen big cats at Big Cat Rescue (BCR) attracted to catnip and enjoying the effect and so all members of the feline family have the same attraction to this chemical.

Amur Tiger Loves Chanel Perfume
Amur Tiger Loves Chanel Perfume. Click on the image to read a bit more. Image: MikeB.

Cats are also attracted to the odours of garlic and onion. I have personally found that my cat is attracted to the smell of bleach. Garlic and onion can be toxic to cats incidentally. And the odour of citrus fruits is repugnant to cats. Some people suggest that you can put citrus fruit in your garden to deter cats but my guess is that it is ineffective in the main.

Some more articles on catnip are below.

Leave a Comment

follow it link and logo