Can Cats Eat Mint? Is it Toxic to Cats?

Mint is very beneficial for cats and has a strong and enticing scent. Some cats show high-level interest in mint and its related smells. Due to this, you might have a few questions – can cats eat mint? Is mint safe for cats?  

ASPCA states that mint is toxic to cats. The stems, leaves, and flowers of the mint contain high contents of essential oils, which are not safe for cats. But many cats love mint and mint-scented products because of the similar scent of mint to catnip. Several kinds of mint genus are toxic to cats, and they are lethal only if eaten in high amounts.

Can Cats Eat Mint? Is it Toxic to Cats?

Cats can grow by eating animal protein because they are obligate carnivores. But you can feed some plant-based food to the cats so that they can get extra nutrition.

Is Mint Good For Cats? Brief Information About Mint 

Mint plants have the scientific name of Mentha, and they belong to the Lamiaceae family. They are known for their long leaves, unique scent, and square stems. The menthol chemical is the reason for the cooler and stimulating feeling from the mints.

It is used in cosmetics, aromatherapy, cooking, medicines, and more. There are many typical mint species and hybrids as well. Here is a list of some mint species: 

  • American wild (Australian mint)
  • Catnip (Catmint)
  • Corn mint
  • Corsican mint
  • Horsemint
  • Japanese peppermint (field or banana mint)
  • Pennyroyals
  • Pineapple (apple) mint
  • Slender mint
  • Spearmint
  • Sweet mint
  • Water (mash mint)
  • Wild mint

Below are the examples of mint hybrids:

  • Chocolate mint
  • False apple mint
  • Ginger mint
  • Large apple mint (Cuban, foxtail, hairy, mojito, or wooly)
  • Red raripila mint
  • Sharp-toothed mint

Out of all, Mentha spicata, or garden mint, is the common species. This wild herb has other names such as garden mint, spearmint, lamb mint, or common mint.

Even though there are many mint species and hybrids, almost all of them have similar compounds. Due to this, cats might respond identically. Just because the mint generates a pungent smell does not make them safe for cats.

Can Cats Eat Mint? 

Cats enjoy the taste, scent, and texture of mint and would love to nibble on them. Cats have a strong sense of smell, and many of them are attracted to mint. It is because mint has a similar scent and taste to catnip. Cats contain 200 million scent sensors, and there are only 5 million sensors in humans.

Though they prefer eating mint, it is better not to feed your cats. If your cat is stubborn, maybe you can give a small piece of mint leaves to it. The garden mint is not safe, toxic to the cats and also to other animals. The essential oil present in this mint is not safe for cats if eaten in high amounts.

Are There Any Benefits Of Mint To The Cats? 

In short, mint is used in making condiments, folk treatment, cosmetics, and aromatherapy. Insecticides and pharmaceutical drugs have some forms of mint as one of the ingredients. Mint is also present in different foods, candies, ice cream, tea, and more.

There are several types of mint, and all of them induce aromatic and fruity scent. Many fresh mint leaves have fragrant tastes due to the nepetalactone present in them.

Many cats love the scent of catnip. Mint species and hybrids have a similar aroma. They both have identical chemical compounds that catch the interest of cats.

Why Is Mint Bad For Cats? What Are The Possible Health Problems Of Eating Mint? 

Mint in every form has excess amounts of essential oils and can result in an upset stomach or abdominal irritation. Sometimes it leads to diarrhea and vomiting. In a few cases, mint can loosen up the esophageal valve, which increases the chances of excess vomiting.

Your cats might have many risks if they are exposed to essential oil for a long time. Make sure to keep the high concentration mint items away from the cats. Some particular mint species, primarily pennyroyal, might result in severe and long-term health problems. It has the potential to cause damage to the liver.

If your cat has eaten excess amounts of mint, it tends to face stomach pain, digestion problems, and vomiting. Eating high content of pennyroyal can make the cats weak. Plus, it will result in the cats suffering from many gastrointestinal discomforts.

One of the side effects of the mint in a few cats is sedation. If the cat has eaten more, it might feel sleepy, dizzy, and inactive. You have to remember that this behavior is only visible in some cats.

Mild vomiting and diarrhea in cats can go away in a day or two. But, if your cat shows severe symptoms, it is better to consult the veterinarian as fast as possible.

Symptoms Of Mint Toxicity In Cats? 

Mint toxicity is a rare case in cats because many of them love to eat mint. Mint toxicity only occurs if your cat has eaten mint. The effects of the mint plants might not be the same in all the cats. A few cats can experience mint toxicity even if they have eaten only one or two small pieces. Some other cats would not show any side effects even if they eat more leaves.

Mostly, mint toxicity appears in cats after they eat outdoor or indoor wild mint and cultivated mint. Below are the typical symptoms of mint toxicity in cats:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Heartburns
  • Lack of appetite
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Cramps
  • Weakness and reduced energy levels

In Extreme Conditions:

  • Jaundice
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Dehydration
  • Anaphylaxis

Do Catnip Belong To The Mint Family? 

Catnip is also known as catmint, catwort, catswort, and more. It is not a mint but a variant of many mint plants and belongs to the sage family. In short, catnip is a yearly herb that comes from the Labiatae group, and nepeta cataria is its scientific name.

Many cats are attracted to catnip due to its enticing smell. Besides that, the scent produced by the catnip has stimulating impacts on cats. The delightful aroma and facilitating effects are because of the nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is an active component in catnip and also other types of mints.

Catnip is similar to cat drugs because it causes specific moods. This herb helps in relieving the grown-up cats and provides more energy. Nepetalactone generates a positive euphoria and makes the cats enjoy their daily routine.

Other Related Questions  

Are Peppermint And Spearmint Safe For Cats? 

In general, the scent of peppermint does not have an enticing effect on cats like catnip. Though peppermint has an intriguing minty aroma, some cats feel sick because of it.

Plus, peppermint includes the salicylate chemical, and it is toxic for cats. It also comes with similar nepetalactone compounds. All you have to do is make sure that your cat is not eating any peppermint leaves.

The spearmint is a common ingredient for tea, candies, and sauce. This spearmint comes with fewer salicylate content than the peppermint.

When it is about toxicity in cats, spearmint is less harmful than peppermint. It does not mean you can feed them to your cat.

Are mint leaves safe for cats? 

Can I give fresh mint leaves to the cats? – this is a common question asked by pet owners who plan to include mint as a treat to cats. No, you should not feed mint leaves to your cat.

As you know, mint leaves come with high contents of essential oils. Due to this, your cat can become very sick. Fresh leaves might have fewer amounts of essential oils than other parts of the mint plant. But it still has plenty of oils that can make the cats ill.

Is Mint Extract Healthy For Cats? 

It is crucial to understand that mint plants in every form are unsafe for cats. Be it leaves, stem, roots, avoid feeding them to your cats. So, it implies that mint extracts are also not healthy and toxic to cats.

There are mint extracts in several patterns and forms. Sometimes, mint extracts contain other things which are poisonous to cats.

Can I Feed Mint Candies To My Cats? 

No, you should never give mint candies to your cats. Almost all the mint candies come with mint essential oil, which is toxic to cats. Plus, mint candies are loaded with artificial sweeteners, which are dangerous for cats. They have spearmint, peppermint oils, and a few of them contain wintergreens as well.

These soft, sweet, or hard candies contain excess corn syrup, sugar, and titanium dioxide. They might cause gastrointestinal problems, obesity, and other health risks in cats.

Never feed lime juice-flavored, mojito mint, or white rum-enriched mojito to your cat because they are harmful. It is best not to give mint snacks such as orbit, mint gums, and jellies.  

Can Cats Eat Mint Chocolate And Mint Ice Cream? 

It is not good to feed chocolates to the cats due to the number of sugars in them. They can make your cat obese and might result in severe intestinal problems. Apart from the high sugar, mint chocolate will have toxic compounds in them, making it unsafe for your cat.

Similar to mint chocolate, mint ice cream has a high sugar content and excess artificial sweeteners, like xylitol.

Conclusion 

It is clear from the above information that the mint herb can be toxic for cats in almost all forms. Though there are many mint species and hybrids, they are dangerous to the cat’s health due to the essential oils.

Besides the whole mint plant, the candies, tea, chocolate, ice cream, and jellies made from the mint are not safe for your cat. Cats are free from mint toxicity as long as you do not feed them mint in any form.

References

  • Bahare Salehi, Zorica Stojanović-Radić, and Javad Sharifi-Rad. (2018). Plants of Genus Mentha: From Farm to Food Factory 
  • Kia Benson. ESSENTIAL OILS AND CATS 
  • Jamie Lovejoy. (2020). Can Cats Eat Chocolate? 
  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). (2017). Xylitol: The Sweetener That Is Not So Sweet for Pets 
  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). (2018). Is the Latest Home Trend Harmful to Your Pets? What You Need to Know