Can Rabbits Have Catnip? (All You Need To Know)

You may have seen some cats having catnip that calms them and helps them relax. And because of this, you may wonder whether rabbits can have catnip. Is it safe to give catnip to rabbits? How often can we give catnip to the rabbit? Let’s find out all your answers in this article.

Rabbits can eat catnip because it is a non-toxic and safe herb. However, giving too much catnip to your rabbit can also cause severe health problems like diarrhea or gastrointestinal problems. Instead, consider providing catnip to your rabbit one to two times a week.

In this article, we will discuss what catnip is, whether rabbits eat the parts of catnip plants, and what the risks of giving catnip to rabbits can be. So let’s find it out.

What is catnip?

Catnip, also known as Nepeta cataria, is a perpetual herb that belongs to the mint family. The active ingredient that this plant contains is called nepetalactone. This herb makes domestic cats or big cats like lions and tigers respond in many ways.

The catnip plants, also known as catmints, grow in eastern and southern Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

It is a short-lived perpetual herb that can reach 50-100 cm in width and height and blossoms its active ingredients from late spring to fall.

Catnip has irregular heart-shaped leaves, which are green and greyish.

This plant has fuzzy hair on its stem that contains a strong minty smell if you crush them.

It’s an excellent training reward for encouraging a cat or rabbit to utilize a scratching board or sleep on its bed.

Also, it can be an excellent method to get your cat or any other animal to exercise and even help them to relax.

Can I give catnip to my rabbit?

Catnip is a safe and non-toxic herb for your rabbit. It is an edible plant and can be given to rabbits as a treat for training and exercise.

However, some rabbits don’t like it because of its strong minty smell that may irritate their noses.

Rabbits who like catnip may have benefited from the plant’s active ingredient.

In addition, the consumption of catnip can assist in calming nervous or restless rabbits. 

If your rabbit has never had catnip, give them a small quantity. After that, supervise your rabbit’s movement and behavior. 

It is essential to give catnip to your rabbit in small quantities.

Otherwise, it can also cause problems that may need immediate medication from the vet. Therefore, ensure that you ask your vet about catnip before giving it to your rabbit.

Can rabbits eat catnip plants?

You can give catnip to your rabbit or any other animal as it is a safe and non-toxic herb.

However, some rabbits, including wild rabbits, don’t like to eat these plants because of their strong odor. If your rabbit likes to eat catnip, giving it in small quantities is essential to avoid health problems. 

A rabbit can eat fresh catnip, including its leaves and stems.

If the catnip you buy from the supermarket is still growing, you must remove its seed head. It is essential not to provide catnip seeds to your rabbit; otherwise, it can cause health issues.

What does catnip do to rabbits?

Catnip is a particular herb used for cats to make them relaxed and calm. The active ingredients of catnip stimulate the brain and control a cat’s emotions if it sniffs up the strong smell from its nose.

Not just for cats, but rabbits can also get the benefits of catnip.

Rabbits can safely eat the herbs. However, it may make a different impression than it does for cats, but it also relaxes and makes them calm and stress-free. 

Risks of catnip to rabbits?

Though catnip is a safe and non-toxic herb, giving too much of it can also affect your rabbit terribly by causing health issues. Likewise, giving any particular food in excess quantity, except hay, can make your rabbit suffer.

If your rabbit does not get its dietary requirements and consumes too much catnip, it can be a cause of concern. Here are some common health problems if you have overfed catnip to your rabbit:

  1. Diarrhea: Overfeeding catnip or any other leafy greens to rabbits can cause diarrhea. Too much catnip can cause loose stools, dirty bottoms, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Therefore, it is essential to introduce any food in your rabbit’s diet slowly, in small quantities. 
  2. GI Stasis: Instead of hay, if you overfeed catnip to your rabbit, it may cause gastrointestinal stasis problems. In addition, this condition can be caused by low fiber in your rabbit’s diet. Therefore, high fiber is necessary for a rabbit’s diet to avoid GI Statis issues.
  3. Uneaten cecotropes: If rabbits consume a lot of catnip instead of their staple food, hay, they may not eat its soft cecotropes. Because of the lack of fiber, this might result in softer cecotropes.

Giving dried catnips can also affect your rabbit terribly because it contains an intense flavor that can overwhelm them.

In addition, it can cause health issues like stomach pain and diarrhea. So instead, if you want to give catnip to your rabbit, you must provide fresh catnip in small quantities. 

If your rabbit has digestive problems, remove catnip or other food items from its diet and deliver only water and hay for a few days.

Ignoring these symptoms can cause severe life-threatening issues, so it is essential to consult your veterinarian if you see any change in its behavior. 

How often can I feed catnip to a rabbit?

Giving 5-6 leaves of catnip twice a week to your rabbit is enough. However, if you introduce catnip or any other food to your rabbit diet for the first time, you must give it in small quantities.

You can provide a bite or two and observe them for 24 hours. If you see any uncommon behavior in your rabbit, you must consult your vet and stop the process of feeding it. 

Some rabbits like catnip, but others (including wild rabbits) may not like it because of its strong minty aroma. Therefore, if your rabbit doesn’t desire to eat catnip, refrain from forcing them. 

The staple food of a rabbit should always be hay. Do not provide catnip daily instead of hay as it can cause low fiber in its diet and also causes severe health problems.

Also, ensure that your rabbit is old enough to ingest herbs like catnip. You can feed catnip to your rabbit only if they are 12 weeks old or above.

Dietary requirements of rabbits?

Rabbit FoodServing QuantityNo. of times
Hay½ cupDaily
Green leaf lettuceTwo cupsper day
Zucchini1-2 Slices, about 1/8 to ¼ thick2-3 times/week
Cucumberone small size, a few millimeters thick2-3 times /week
Basil1-2 stemsOnce or twice/week
Watermelon½ cupOnce or twice/week
Mango1 to 2 tablespoonsOnce or twice/week
Apple1 or 2 SlicesPer week
StrawberryTwo tablespoons of chopped strawberriesOnce or twice a week

Hay is the staple food of a rabbit, whereas vegetables and greens contain beneficial nutrients which fulfill the rabbit’s dietary needs.

However, leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits should always be served as an occasional treat.

The staple diet of the rabbit should contain at least 80-90% hay, 5% pellets, and 5% fruits and vegetables or leafy greens and served according to the rabbit’s body weight.

The above table shows the Ideal dietary requirement of a rabbit.

It would be best if you served hay to your rabbit according to its body weight. Therefore, the dietary food requirements are according to the rabbit’s body weight.

Rabbit weightpelletshayVeg (e.g., bell peppers, cabbage, zucchini squash, cucumber, etc.)Greens ( parsley, Leafy green lettuce, watercress, basil, etc.)
1 pound1/8 cupUnlimited1/2 tbsp1/2 cup
2 pound1/8 cupUnlimited1 tbsp1 cup
3 pound1/8 cupUnlimited1 ½ tbsp1 ½ cup
4 pound1/8 cupUnlimited2 tbsp2 cup
5 pound1/4 – 1/3 cupUnlimited2 ½ tbsp2 ½ cup
6 pound1/4 – 1/3 cupUnlimited3 tbsp3 cup
7 pound1/4 – 1/3 cupUnlimited3 ½ tbsp3 ½ cup
8 pound1/4 – 1/3 cupUnlimited4 tbsp4 cup
9 pound1/4 – 1/3 cupUnlimited4 ½ tbsp4 ½ cup
10 pound1/4 – 1/3 cupUnlimited5 tbsp5 cup
11 pound3/4 cupUnlimited5 ½ tbsp5 ½ cup
12 pound3/4 cupUnlimited6 tbsp6 cup
13 pound3/4 cupUnlimited6 ½ tbsp6 ½ cup
14 pound3/4 cupUnlimited7 tbsp7 cup
15 pound3/4 cupUnlimited7 ½ tbsp7 ½ cup

Also read: Why Is My Rabbit Only Eating Hay?

Can rabbits have catnip toys?

You can give catnip toys to your rabbit because catnip is a member of the mint family, and mint is safe to consume. In addition, some rabbits enjoy playing with catnip toys.

However, some catnip toy material can also be dangerous for your rabbit because some toys may contain tiny dried particles of catnip that can harm your rabbit if they ingest it. 

Therefore, if you are buying a catnip toy for your rabbit, make sure that it is non-addictive and solid so that they will not be able to chew the particles; otherwise, it will cause choking and internal blockages. 


  1. Catnip is safe for rabbits to eat; however, giving too much can cause health issues.
  2. You can provide catnip as a treat to rabbits for training and exercises.
  3. Catnip seeds are toxic to rabbits.
  4. It would be best if you gave catnip to your rabbit in small quantities.
  5. Catnip toys are safe; however, some may contain dried catnip particles that can affect your rabbit’s health.
  6. Instead of catnip toys, you can give solid baby toys that do not include small particles.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can rabbits have cat toys?

Some cat toys are acceptable for rabbits, whereas some are not. It all depends upon the material of toys that you are providing. 

Solid plastic baby toys such as rattles, key rings, stacking cups, and some robust parrot and cat toys can be great for your rabbit to play with. Also, ensure that there should be no small parts they can swallow. Otherwise, it may cause choking. Therefore, always supervise your rabbit when they are playing with its toys.

Other alternatives to catnip?

Although catnip is the safest herb, you can add and mix some other healthy greens and vegetables to your rabbit’s diet. Here are some alternatives to catnip:

  1. Basil
  2. Spinach
  3. Alfalfa
  4. Green peppers
  5. Carrot tops
  6. Watercress
  7. Raspberry leaves
  8. Radish
  9. Bok choy
  10. Celery

Also read: Can Rabbits eat Spinach?

Reference: NCBI

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