Why You Should Grow Catnip: Benefits and Uses Explained

Last updated on: September 13, 2023 by Crystal Uys

cat eating catnip

Cats are obligate carnivores, but they can still benefit from eating small amounts of plant-based foods. Although catnip can take center stage in plant-based cat products, catnip is another plant-based product that can be healthy for cats.

Catnip is not a specific species of grass. Instead, it’s made from a blend of several different types of plants that are safe for cats to eat, including alfalfa, barley, oats, rye, and wheat. Giving cats catnip can be good for their health, and it’s also easy to grow it yourself. Here are some benefits your cat could get from eating catnip.


The 6 reasons to grow catnip:

1. Aids digestion

Grain grasses are a great source of fiber that your cat may not be able to get from animal proteins.1 Consuming a little extra soluble fiber can help boost digestion and support gut health. It can also help relieve minor gastrointestinal issues, like occasional diarrhea.

Cats suffering from chronic constipation may benefit from increased fiber consumption. So, if your cat is prone to certain digestive issues, it doesn’t hurt to consult your veterinarian and see if catnip is a viable natural remedy.


2. Help with hairballs

While there are many adorable things about cats, spitting up hairballs isn’t one of them. It’s normal for cats to regurgitate a hairball every two weeks, but it can become a bigger problem if the frequency increases.2

While catnip isn’t a cure-all for hairballs, it can certainly help cats vomit up hairballs more easily. Sometimes it can act as a laxative to help cats digest them.3

cat hairball
Image credit: Montakan Wannasri, Shutterstock

3. Safe Alternative to Outdoor Grass

Catnip can be especially beneficial for outdoor cats who have developed the habit of eating grass when they roam outside. You never know how dangerous weed grown outdoors can be. They may be treated with pesticides that are toxic to your cat, and your cat could still eat them without knowing it.

While cats usually just graze on the top of the grass, some can get to the root and get dirt in their mouths. This could potentially lead them to consuming intestinal parasites and end up with a significant infection. Growing your own catnip gives more control and security over what your cat eats and greatly reduces the risk of illness and infections.


4. Discourage cats from chewing houseplants

Some cats may develop a habit of chewing houseplants for a variety of reasons. They may eat them out of boredom or simply enjoy the texture and taste. While there are houseplants that are safe and non-toxic for cats, there are also many popular houseplants that produce toxins that are not safe for them to eat.

Having catnip at home can provide cats with a safe alternative to houseplants. They can also help protect your houseplants from damage caused by bites and claws.

cat-sniffing-a-rosemary-plant-on-a-balcony_
Image credit: Lifesummerlin, Shutterstock

5. Additional source of vitamins and minerals

Although catnip cannot replace a significant portion of your cat’s regular diet, your cat may benefit from consuming a few more vitamins and minerals from catnip. Depending on the type of grass, your cat may receive a vitamin A and D supplement. Grass may contain folic acid, which helps improve and support healthy blood circulation. THE chlorophyll found in the herb can help provide mild relief from pain and skin infections. It is also known to help freshen breath.


6. Protects cats from food poisoning

Wild cats can sometimes eat grass or plants after eating their prey. The herb can induce vomiting and help them vomit up indigestible parts of whatever they have eaten. While it is it is unlikely that your indoor cat has eaten any kind of prey with indigestible parts, your cat may feel a little uncomfortable after eating something from time to time. Eating catnip can help your cat expel something that’s making her sick or nauseous and feel better faster.

growing catnip at home in a plastic box
Image credit: ja-aljona, Shutterstock

How to Grow Your Own Catnip

Now that you know the benefits of catnip, you might be interested in growing your own. The best and safest way to grow catnip is to purchase a catnip kit. These kits generally contain Tastier Catnip Blends for Cats. In some cases, you can find pots of already grown catnip at your local pet store so you can skip the planting and growing process.

Catnip kits usually contain a mixture of seeds, and these seeds are relatively easy to grow. Some kits may recommend soaking the seeds before planting, while others will direct you to plant the dry seeds in soil and then water them. Be sure to use a well-draining container to prevent root rot, and place the container in a room that gets plenty of sunlight.

The seeds should germinate within 3 to 7 days and the herb can be eaten approximately 10 days after germination. Be sure to regularly remove yellowed or wilted blades of grass.


Conclusion

Overall, your cat can benefit from several health benefits from eating catnip, and you may see improvements in digestion and gut health. Catnip is also a safe alternative for cats who like to chew plant leaves. So if your cat has a habit of eating houseplants or looks like they need more fiber in their dietIt doesn’t hurt to introduce them to catnip.


Featured image credit: Kashaeva Irina, Shutterstock

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