We all know that cats are drawn to catmint or catnip but how about the regular mint, peppermint or spear mint? In general, can cats eat mint?
In order to answer the question “can cats eat mint”, we need to know what mint really is from a botanical point of view because catnip is also from mint family but its effects are much different from regular mint. The Latin name of the mint family is Lamiaceae and it includes more than 7000 species.
Among the 7000 plant species in Lamiaceae family, some are toxic to cats and some are just harmless. Menthol, mint, sage, lavender, rosemary, basil, thymes, oregano are just some of the plants in this family that we commonly use, therefore your kitty has access to. They are great as herb and spice names for cats but not all of them are safe.
Can cats eat mint?
The answer to the question “can cats eat mint” is NO! Mint is toxic to cats. Although, in almost all cases of mint poisoning the culprit is the essential oil that the plant carries, there are some other biochemicals in mint that can harm your cat, too.
However, in order for the mint poisoning to happen, your cat needs to eat a lot of mint. The real danger lies in the concentrated oils of the plant such as mint oil. A few bites of mint may or may not show its effect on your little friend but the risk is not worth taking.
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) lists mint as toxic to cats due to the essential oils in the plant. It is certain that mint is toxic to cats but this poisoning does not effect all the cats in the same way. While some cats show extreme physical activity before getting weak, some others show weakness immediately as a symptom of poisoning.
Some common symptoms of mint poisoning are:
- upset stomach,
- nausea, and
What shall I do if my cat shows symptoms of mint poisoning?
What needs to be done depends on the seriousness of the poisoning. No matter how serious the poisoning is, you need to call your veterinarian immediately. Sometimes vetterinarians need to induce vomiting or even pump your cats stomach.
Also, veterinarian may want to observe your kitty for a few days so you may have to leave it in the vet hospital.
Mint poisoning can generally be treated without any real risk of fatality if you act in time so you don’t need to panic. Just make sure you follow the veterinarian’s instructions and take necessary precautions to prevent this from hapenning again.
Catnip is also from Lamiaceae family. Is it safe?
It is true that catnip and catmint are from the same family as mint, peppermint or spearmint however they belong to genus Nepeta and mint belongs to genus Mentha so they are not sisters but can be counted as cousins.
Catnip and catmint are both considered potentially harmful by ASPCA because they both can cause diarrhea and/or vomiting.
Almost all cats love catnip but the effects are not always the same. Some cats get sedated while others get stimulated so it depends on the cat what the effects will be. This unknown results of ingesting catnip makes it potentially harmful.
Conclusion – Can cats eat mint?
Mint is toxic to cats so can cats have mint? No, they can’t! Although a few bits and nips from the flower pot in front of the kitchen window may not poison your kitty immediately, it is always best to keep your kitty away from a toxic plant.
All forms of mint; fresh, dried, in a food or as an essential oil are toxic to cats, especially the essential oil. There are even reports of cats vomiting upon smelling mint oil so don’t assume any type of mint is safe for cats.
If you notice any strange behaviour after your cat ingests mint, please observe your cat carefully and call your veterinarian immediately.