can kittens have catnip

Can Kittens Have Catnip? Safety Tips and More

Most cat owners have tried giving their felines catnip at some point or another. In fact, catnip has become so popular that you can now buy it in various forms from dried and flaked versions to ready-made catnip-filled toys. You can even buy catnip plants for your kitty to enjoy. The choice you make will depend on your cat’s preferences. It may be necessary to do some trial and error if your cat is especially picky. If one thing doesn’t work, then try another!

However, if you own a young kitten you are probably wondering if catnip is safe for them because they are such fragile little creatures. In this article, you will find out if catnip is safe for kittens and also some general safety tips on its use. We’ve added some FAQS at the end of the article for quick reference too.

How Does Catnip Work?

To figure out if catnip is safe for kittens, we first need to know what it is. Besides, it is always good to understand a product before purchasing it.

So, what exactly is catnip? Well, it is a type of herb that belongs to the mint family. The scientific name for catnip is Nepeta cataria and it is native to Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and China.

Catnip sends your cats at all cray-cray because of one particular ingredient – nepetalactone. If this essential oil was missing, chances are your kitties wouldn’t have much of a reaction at all.

Cats react to catnip in a variety of ways. It’s safe for them to consume as well. When cats start to react to catnip, they may display a variety of different behaviors – some of which you may find amusing! They may start sniffing, rubbing, licking, running, vocalizing, or jumping around vigorously. If your cat is the more chilled type , they will generally just lay down in their cat bed and enjoy the high.

How Long Do the Effects of Catnip Last?

You don’t need to worry about your kitty zooming and rolling around for hours because catnip reactions only last for around ten to fifteen minutes. Then your cat will go back to normal as if nothing happened. Although catnip isn’t toxic to cats, it is still best to use it in moderation.

Is it Safe for Kittens to Have Catnip?

kittens and catnip

Now we reach the pivotal question: Is catnip safe for kittens? Cats are classed as kittens until they reach the age of 1 year when they become adults. Interestingly enough, by 7 months old kittens reach sexual maturity, but this is just an extra tidbit we thought we would share.

Baby animals always have to be treated with extra care because they are still young and growing. This is why it’s best to always proceed with caution when it comes to most things. However, catnip is not dangerous for kittens so feel free to use it if you wish.

So, the ultimate answer to whether kittens can have catnip is yes. In fact, studies have shown that catnip can even be beneficial to kittens and cats over the age of 6 months by promoting exercise and stimulating their appetites.

Can Catnip Be Bad for Kittens?

If you are in any doubt you can always contact your vet to get some professional advice, but they will probably say the same thing we are telling you now. They may just advise you to exercise caution if your kitten happens to have a certain underlying medical condition that may be exacerbated by the overuse of a stimulant such as catnip.

What If My Kitten Does Not Seem To Respond To Catnip?

It’s worth noting that kittens under the age of 3 months aren’t really affected by catnip but it is still perfectly acceptable to give it to them if you want to. Saying that you may prefer to save your money and wait until your kitten is a bit older so they have more chance of an interest in catnip and enjoying it more! When they reach 3-6 months of age, most cats will react to catnip but not all! Sometimes, a cat will show no reaction but the reason behind this difference is not fully understood. If your cat isn’t fussed by catnip there are other cat friendly herbs you can try, including valerian and silvervine.

Can Kittens Eat Catnip?

Yes, kittens can eat catnip, but it is not recommended to give them too much of it. Keep in mind that catnip is not a necessary part of a kitten’s diet, and too much of it can cause digestive problems or even make them sick. So give it only as a treat and supervise your kitten while they are playing with it to make sure they don’t accidentally eat too much. 

How Can I Give Catnip To My Kitten?

If you want to give your kitten some catnip, there are quite a few different options available. One popular way is to purchase catnip toys, which are stuffed with the herb and often come in fun shapes like mice or fish. You simply let your kitten play with these toys and see how they react. If they are interested you will soon know it! They will likely start to feel the effects of the catnip straight away. 

Another option is to use a catnip spray, which you can apply to scratching posts or other areas where your kitten likes to play. You can spray it onto a pair of rolled-up socks if they like to bunny kick. This can be a great way to introduce your kitten to the herb in a controlled way. But do check on the ingredients. Some sprays are really concentrated, so compare a few before you buy. Your vet can often make a recommendation. Alternatively, you can put some loose catnip in a small bowl or on a towel and let your kitten sniff and play with it as they want to. 

Some kittens will engage with the catnip more than others, so it may take a bit of experimentation to figure out what works best for your furry friend. Just remember that catnip should be given in moderation, as too much can cause vomiting or diarrhea, which we delve into below.

Benefits of Catnip

Catnip can provide many benefits to our beloved pets, such as reducing stress and anxiety. The scent of catnip produces a relaxing and calming effect on cats, which can be useful for anxious or temperamental kitties, alongside tools such as diffusers or sprays. It can also encourage playful behavior and stimulate our cats’ senses, which can help them exercise and stay engaged. Another benefit of catnip is helping with digestion, and it has been found to have mild pain-relieving properties which can be helpful for cats with arthritis or joint pain.

But not all cats react the same way to catnip, and as we’ve said, some may not show any interest in it at all. Ours certainly didn’t until they were older kittens.

Always keep in mind that you need to offer catnip in moderation, as too much can lead to overstimulation or digestive issues as we’ve already mentioned. But overall, if your cat is into it, catnip can be a really great addition to your cat’s environment, helping with relaxation, entertainment, and health benefits. 

is catnip bad for kittens

Safety Tips for Catnip and Kittens: Can a Kitten Overdose on Catnip?

It should be obvious by now that catnip is not harmful to kittens. However, some minor issues can occur if your kitten ingests too much of it. These include an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, or a combination of all three. While none of these ailments are fatal, they can make your cat feel uncomfortable and there may be a little bit of mess for you to clean up!

Opt for organic or natural catnip to be sure no pesticides were sprayed on the plant.

Depending on how severe it is, diarrhea can also lead to dehydration. The best way to avoid this is just to restrict the use of catnip. Everything in moderation is always the best approach! It is something even we humans have to (reluctantly) practice. No matter how tasty that chocolate cake looks, it’s best to not go back for a second or third slice. Bear in mind that dehydration can be fatal in young kittens so always ensure that fresh water is available.

Another thing that could occur is your kitten might get a little too over-excited after eating catnip. If they are the type to just lay there and chill, then there is no real problem. However, if you have a cat that regularly gets the zoomies (AKA they start darting from place to place) then make sure you cat-proof the room before giving them any catnip.

You don’t have to go crazy covering everything in bubble wrap, just remove anything that your kitten could crash into or potentially injure themselves on. Objects that may easily topple over should also be removed. The chances of this happening are fairly low but with pets, you can never be too sure. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can kittens have catnip?

Yes, kittens can have catnip. However, it is recommended to wait until they are at least 6 months of age before introducing them to catnip.

Is catnip safe for kittens?

Yes, catnip is generally considered safe for kittens. But it’s important to give them a small amount at first (quarter of a teaspoon) to see if they have any adverse reactions, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Also, make sure to supervise them when they’re playing with catnip to prevent them from ingesting too much. See the section above called Safety Tips.

What is catnip?

Catnip is a herb that belongs to the mint family and contains a chemical compound called nepetalactone that produces a euphoric effect in cats when they smell or ingest it.

How does catnip work?

Catnip contains components that trigger a unique response in a cat’s brain, causing them to become more active and playful. Not all cats will respond to catnip and feline responses can vary.

Do all cats go crazy for catnip?

While many cats go crazy for catnip, not all cats or kittens will have the same response. Some cats may not react at all, while others may have a mild or intense reaction. Also, if a kitten has already had a lot of catnip, they may not be affected by it as much the next time.

Can kittens overdose on catnip?

Kittens and cats are not known to overdose on catnip. However, it is important to monitor your pet’s interest in catnip and not give them too much at once, as it could cause mild gastrointestinal upset.

How much catnip is too much for kittens?

It is recommended to start with a small amount of dried catnip or a catnip toy and observe your kitten’s reaction. If they seem to enjoy it, you can gradually give them more over time. However, it is important to remember that kittens and cats should never be given an excessive amount of catnip. 

How often can kittens have catnip?

It’s best to limit the amount of catnip that kittens have and not give it to them too often. Once or twice a week is sufficient for them to enjoy the benefits of catnip safely.

Can catnip be harmful to kittens?

If given in large quantities, catnip can be harmful to kittens and cause digestive problems. It’s important to give them only a small amount and supervise them when they’re playing with catnip toys or the dried herb.

Summing Up: Can Kittens Have Catnip?

As long as it is used in moderation, kittens can have catnip, it’s safe, and your kitten shouldn’t have any ill effects from this herb. It will just give them a few moments of excitement before it wears off, leaving them to continue with whatever felines do.

The only harms it could cause are some mild physical symptoms or a potential injury. Both can easily be circumnavigated by not overdoing it with the catnip and making sure the area is clear of any dangers.


Picture of Desiree Delong, Writer & Cat Mom

Desiree Delong, Writer & Cat Mom

Desiree Delong is a devoted cat Mom and freelance writer with a passion for all animals, but especially cats. She has owned cats since she was six years old and even though she is now in her thirties, her love for cats has never faded. She continues to adopt cats and give them a safe, loving home. Currently, Desiree spends most of her time writing. In her free time, she cares for her furbaby, a tabby cat named Halo who is nearing her seventh birthday.