Is Catnip Safe for Rabbits?

Written by Matthew Emma
Published: November 20, 2023
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Many people know that catnip impacts cats. That said, fewer people realize that the natural product is used as a food source for other animals. Is catnip safe for rabbits? The short answer is yes. Rabbits can safely consume catnip. That said, those who own rabbits as pets or provide care for these animals should know certain important facts before feeding them this product.

Two Lion Head Rabbits Outdoors

Catnip is not toxic to rabbits and is safe to feed them.

©JudyN/iStock via Getty Images

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What is Catnip?

Catnip belongs to the plant kingdom and holds membership in the mint family. More specifically, scientists label the natural product Nepeta cataria. The herb sometimes grows as high as three to four feet high.

Catnip’s Impact on Cats

The plant earned a reputation in popular culture for the notable behavior many cats display after being exposed to or consuming the product. Catnip contains a chemical known as nepetalactone. This substance produces an aroma enticing to cats.

The smell causes a solid percentage of cats to exhibit hyperactivity. This manifests in noticeable actions such as excitement, increased movements, and mental sharpness. These episodes usually last anywhere from a few minutes to as long as a half-hour. Cat owners often give catnip to pets needing physical stimulation or those getting into mischief due to boredom or inactivity.

That said, every cat’s reaction is different. Some will demonstrate quick and major responses. However, a small percentage display no reaction at all. Furthermore, continued exposure to catnip limits its effect on some cats over time.

Most commonly, cat owners sprinkle catnip leaves into a cat’s food. That said, numerous cat toys contain the product.

Cat eating catnip

Catnip contains a chemical known as nepetalactone which produces an aroma enticing to cats.


Catnip and Rabbits

Veterinarians confirm that catnip is safe for rabbit consumption. Scientists classify rabbits as herbivores meaning that they eat only plant products. Rabbit owners and caretakers realize this fact limits the food the animals can safely eat and often wish to jazz up their diets with different-tasting plants. Many believe catnip accomplishes this task.

Catnip flowers (Nepeta cataria) blossoming in a garden on sunny summer day. Beauty in nature.

Catnip increases activity and excitement levels in many cats.


5 Things to Know Before Feeding Catnip to Rabbits

Prior to giving rabbits catnip or exposing them to products containing the plant, owners or caregivers should know five important facts including:

Avoid Dried Catnip

The plant’s dried variation tends to be quite small. Unfortunately, this proves problematic for rabbits. Tinier objects increase a rabbit’s choking risk. Additionally, dried catnip carries the potential to injure the inside of a rabbit’s mouth.

Not All Catnip Features are Safe for Rabbits

While the leaves and stems prove safe for rabbit consumption, seed heads are not. These tiny particles increase the animal’s chances of developing digestive issues.

Rabbits Should Not Consume Catnip While They Are Very Young

Veterinarians caution pet owners not to feed rabbits catnip until they reach 12 weeks old. A rabbit’s gastrointestinal system reaches maturity at this time and is better able to properly digest the plant product.

Rabbits Should Not be Fed Excessive Amounts

Pet owners are urged not to feed a rabbit catnip often or in excessive quantities. Such practices increase the animal’s risk of stomach upset.

Fewer Rabbits Respond Favorably to Catnip

Rabbits do not respond as favorably to catnip as cats do. A good number of rabbits find the aroma catnip produces too strong. Moreover, in certain cases, catnip makes rabbits calm and tame.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © stopovers/

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About the Author

I have been in the writing field for more than 20 years. During my career's first half, I served as print and online journalist for various local publications. Over the latter half, my interests turned to content and freelance writing where I've covered various topics for a wide-ranging client base. Relating to animals, I currently serve as a family assistant for a woman with two aging dogs. Raven and Cruz have intensified my love for dogs, increased my awareness of animal issues, and inspired me to devote more of my time and professional skills to promoting animal causes.

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