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Can I Add Catnip to My Cat’s Food? Nutrition Facts & FAQ

Brooke Billingsley

By Brooke Billingsley

catnip plants outdoor

We all know that a large number of cats love catnip. In fact, it’s estimated that somewhere between 50%–75% of cats are affected by catnip. Kittens, usually those under 6 months of age, and senior cats seem to be less likely to be big fans of catnip than other adult cats.

If your cat does love catnip, though, you’ve likely begun looking for a variety of ways to incorporate catnip into their daily activities. The primary way that most of us do this is by offering catnip toys or sprinkling catnip onto their scratchers. Some people have likely also seen catnip treats in the store, leading us to wonder if catnip can be added directly to a cat’s food. Yes, you can add catnip to your cat’s food, but it’s typically more effective and enjoyable for them when used as a separate toy or treat due to its stimulating effects.

Can Cats Eat Catnip?

It is perfectly safe for your cat to eat catnip. Some cats may not like to eat it, especially if they’re picky eaters, but your cat may also eat catnip sprinkled right onto their food. There are no safety concerns associated with feeding catnip to cats.

This also means that your cat can safely chew on a catnip plant, eat catnip leaves, and even drink a catnip tea. If your cat were to go crazy on a catnip plant or break into a package of catnip and eat it, then there is a possibility of mild stomach upset with the ingestion of a large amount of catnip.

cat with green eyes in catnip
Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

Ways to Offer Catnip to Your Cat

Sprinkle It

You can sprinkle fresh or dried catnip directly onto your cat’s food. Some cats may prefer for it to be mixed into their food, so you may need to incorporate the catnip into the food. Other cats may eat it regardless of how it’s presented in their food. Your cat will quickly let you know if they approve of the way you’ve tried to give them catnip in their food.

Make Treats

If you’re the type of person who enjoys making things from scratch, then you’ll love the option of making catnip treats for your cat yourself and from scratch. There are lots of recipe options available, and you may even choose to make your own. Just make sure to stick to ingredients that are safe for cats and try to focus on treats that are low in sugar and carbohydrates. Also, always feed treats as less than 10% of your cat’s daily diet.

Grow a Catnip Plant

Catnip is a relative of mint plants, and it grows in a similar manner. It’s a prolific grower and reproducer, and catnip can take over a garden or yard if not kept under control. If you’re up for it, though, catnip is exceptionally easy to grow and requires minimal care, making it ideal for people with a brown thumb. You can offer fresh catnip leaves or buds to your cat directly from the plant. Make sure that your catnip plant is free of pesticides and other chemicals that may be dangerous for your cat.

catnip plants
Image Credit: lwccts, Pixabay

Make Catnip Tea

Everyone loves a nice cup of tea, and your cat might like to join you. Catnip leaves, stems, and buds can be used to make a tea, and it only takes a few minutes. You’ll simply place the catnip into a teabag or steeper and let it steep for about 10 minutes. You can use fresh catnip directly from your plant to make catnip tea, but the tea will likely be stronger if the catnip is dried before steeping.

Always check to ensure the temperature of the tea is safe for your cat before offering it to them. A benefit of giving catnip tea is that it encourages your cat to drink more water, which is a good thing for the many cats that chronically don’t drink enough water.

Via Toys

This is the most common way that cats end up eating catnip. While some toys may be stuffed with catnip, just about any toy can become a catnip toy. You can roll toys in catnip, or you can sprinkle toys and scratchers with catnip. Oftentimes, rubbing catnip between your fingers before using it will help to release the oils and encourage more play.

Our Pick for Best Catnip Toy

Hepper Catnip Stick Toy 3

Catnip toys are a lot of fun for most cats, but you do want to find a high-quality version. Our Hepper Catnip Stick Toys are double-bagged and bite-proof, perfect for even the sharpest claws and teeth. They’re also full of 100% organic catnip, shaped like your cat’s natural prey, and hand-made in the USA.


It’s perfectly safe for your cat to eat catnip, whether it’s on their food or some other way. In large quantities, it may cause stomach upset, but your cat would have to demolish the better part of a catnip plant to cause any symptoms. Some cats will enjoy the addition of edible catnip or catnip tea to their daily routine, so play around with it to see what your cat likes the best.

Featured Image Credit: lwccts, Pixabay

Brooke Billingsley

Authored by

Brooke Billingsley spent nine years as a veterinary assistant before becoming a human nurse in 2013. She resides in Arkansas with her boyfriend of five years. She loves all animals and currently shares a home with three dogs, two cats, five fish, and two snails. She has a soft spot for special needs animals and has a three-legged senior dog and an internet famous cat with acromegaly and cerebellar hypoplasia. Fish keeping...Read more

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