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Can I Give My Pregnant Cat Catnip? Vet-Reviewed Facts

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

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Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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So your cat is expecting! Congratulations on the cute kittens running around your house in a few weeks. In the meantime, you’re probably wondering if giving your pregnant cat catnip is okay.

While there’s no definitive answer, you may want to avoid giving your cat catnip during pregnancy. Some experts believe catnip can cause contractions, leading to premature labor. Additionally, catnip may make your cat feel nauseous, which is the last thing you want when she’s taking care of those furry buns in her oven.

Is Catnip Dangerous for Pregnant Cats?

Most cats go crazy for catnip. The nepetalactone, aka a certain oil that catnip plants contain, produces a euphoric effect in approximately 70% of cats. Once your cat sniffs or ingests this oil, she may start to roll around, purr, or drool.

Catnip is safe for most cats. Depending on how much they take, the “high” usually lasts for about 5 to 10 minutes before your cat returns to her normal state. There’s also no lasting effect, so you don’t have to worry about your cat becoming addicted to catnip or overdosing on it.

The problem is that catnip can cause pregnant cats to go into labor. This is because nepetalactone can act like a uterine stimulant, causing contractions. If your cat is late in her pregnancy, these contractions could lead to premature labor.

In addition, catnip acts as a stimulant for some cats. If your cat tends to rocket around your home or get hyperactive after eating catnip, you don’t want to risk her injuring herself or the kittens by giving her catnip while pregnant.

Additionally, catnip can cause nausea in some cats. If your cat is already dealing with morning sickness, you don’t want to make her feel any worse by giving her catnip.

Finally, some studies have found that catnip can cause or trigger seizures in rats. So if your cat has a history of seizures, you’ll definitely want to avoid giving her catnip, pregnant or not.

catnip plants outdoor
Image By: lwccts, Pixabay

Is It Safe to Give Catnip to a Nursing Cat?

Once your cat gives birth and starts nursing her kittens, you may be wondering if it’s now safe to give her catnip.

The good news is that catnip is not passed into a mother’s milk. So even if your nursing cat ingests catnip, it won’t affect her kittens.

It also offers a few benefits for nursing cats:

  • Stimulates appetite: Catnip can help increase a nursing cat’s appetite. If your cat is having trouble eating enough to keep up her milk production, a little catnip may help her get her appetite back.
  • Reduces stress: Nursing can be a stressful time for cats. Catnip can help relax a nursing cat and make her less stressed. This, in turn, will help her produce more milk for her kittens.
  • Relieves pain: Catnip has natural pain-relieving properties. If your nursing cat is feeling sore from all the nursing, giving her a bit of catnip can help her be more comfortable.

Still the effects vary from cat to cat. So observe your cat closely after giving her catnip to make sure she’s not showing any adverse reaction.

Wrapping It Up

To be safe, keep the catnip away from your pregnant cat to minimize the risk of labor contractions or other problems. Once your cat gives birth and starts nursing, you can give her catnip if she needs a little help with appetite, stress, or pain relief. Just watch for any negative reactions, and give her only a small amount of catnip at a time.

Featured Image Credit: Boy67, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is a lover of animals of all sizes but is especially fascinated with the feline variety. She’s the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese, and works every day so he can relax in the sunshine or by the fire. She’s always had a cat in her home and has spent countless days with others, observing behaviors and softening up even the grouchiest of the lot. Nicole wants to share her kitty expertise with you so you and your cat ...Read more

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