is catnip safe for kittens? cat smelling catnip

Can Kittens Have Catnip?

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.

All About Catnip

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 and enjoy the high.

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.

Are Kittens Able to Have Catnip?

can kittens have catnip domestic cat enjoying catnip

Now we reach the pivotal question. Can kittens have catnip? 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.

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 can enjoy 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 herbs you can try, including valerian and silvervine.

So, the ultimate answer to ‘are kittens able to have catnip?’ is yes because it is not harmful at all. 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. 

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 exaccerbated by the overuse of a stimulant such as catnip. 

Safety Tips

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!

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.

Final Thoughts: Is Catnip Safe For Kittens?

The answer to the question ‘is catnip safe for kittens?’ is yes. As long as it is used in moderation, your kitten won’t have any ill effects from consuming 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.