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Can Cats Eat Mint? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

mint plant

If you’re concerned about whether it’s safe for a cat to eat mint, then most likely you’re a cat parent and your curious kitty has gotten into something they shouldn’t have. Trust us, we understand. Cats are naturally curious creatures who will find their way into some of the most troublesome situations. Eating mint can be one of those situations.

The answer to your question is no, cats should not eat mint. Luckily, however, if your nosey feline has accidentally nibbled on your herb garden, it doesn’t mean they will get sick. For a cat to suffer from mint poisoning, they need to ingest quite a bit of this plant. Let’s take a look at the mint plant, the signs of mint poisoning, and what you can do to help your kitty if they happen to get sick from munching on this plant.

What Is Mint?

The mint family is made up of several types of plants. Normally it is the smell, large leaves, and square stems that make these plants distinguishable. Unfortunately, mint essential oil is found in each variation of the mint plant. It’s this oil that is so dangerous to cats and the reason why it is best to keep them away from mint. It is also one of the main reasons they are attracted to it. Like us, they enjoy the smell and it is similar to another plant they simply adore.

Peppermint and spearmint are also part of the mint family. Unlike regular mint and catnip, cats don’t find themselves attracted to peppermint. They don’t like it. In most situations, you’ll find that the smell of peppermint repels cats. Spearmint on the other hand is not as toxic or unappealing to cats as peppermint. While your cat can easily heal after munching on mint or spearmint, that may not be the case with peppermint. Salicylate, found in peppermint, is toxic to cats and why you should keep them far away from this plant.

mint leaves close up
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Difference Between Mint and Catnip

You may feel like your cat is a bit obsessed with your mint garden. That’s a big possibility considering mint and catnip, a plant beloved by cats, are so similar. As part of the same family, catnip or catmint smells like most other mint plants. Most, but not all cats, love catnip. For some kitties, it induces a drug-like euphoria. Unfortunately, their hopes of finding their beloved catnip often lead them to the nearest similarity, mint.

You may be wondering if garden mint can make your cat feel the same as catnip. Well, the answer is yes. The nepetalactone found in catnip, which makes cats go so crazy, is also found in mint. Your kitty can breathe this in from live or dried plants, and even the oil extracts. This is why you may find it difficult to keep your kitty away from the mint plant on your window sill.

Mint vs Catnip
Image Credit: Pixabay

Signs of Mint Poisoning

Any essential oil is dangerous to your cat in large doses. This is true of mint, spearmint, or peppermint. Normally, however, the signs are always the same. If you caught your kitty chewing on a few leaves of mint here’s what you should keep an eye out for.

Symptoms of poisoning include:
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness

If your cat starts exhibiting these signs, then they require a trip to the veterinarian.

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Treatments for Mint Poisoning

While mint poisoning is scary for us pet owners, our kitties are usually fine in a few days. The vet will keep a close eye on your cat and in some instances, induce vomiting. If things are truly serious, your cat may end up getting its stomach pumped. Either way, they will most likely spend a few days at the vet hospital to ensure they don’t dehydrate or have a more severe reaction.

veterinarian is making a check up of a adult maine coon cat
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Are Foods With Mint Safe for Cats?

While you may think mixing mint with other foods may make it safer, this isn’t the case. To keep your cat safe, it is best to keep them away from all forms of mint. If you plan on having it around the house, keeping it in an area your cat can’t access may be your best option.

In Conclusion

As a pet parent, it’s important to know what plants and other substances are harmful to your kitty. While cats can enjoy many feline-friendly foods and scents, mint is not one they should have regular access to. A small amount won’t put them in grave danger, but mint poisoning can become a serious issue. If your cat has ingested mint, we recommend reaching out to your veterinarian promptly.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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