cat smelling plant

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that the majority of their diet should consist of meat.

While this may be the case, there are certain herbs that make fantastic supplements to your cat’s diet, and could really improve their health and well-being. This is even more so for indoor cats, as they are not able to forage outdoors for themselves.

CATNIP (NEPETA CATARIA)

Cat with a plant

A perennial herb that comes from the mint family, catnip contains an oil called nepetalactone in its leaves and stems. When a cat smells this, it stimulates certain receptors in the brain that give the cat a feeling of extreme happiness, similar to hallucinogenic drugs in humans. When chewed, it has a mild sedative effect. Don’t worry, it’s not addictive nor harmful to your cat.

From pawing at it to rolling in it to chewing it, around 50% to 75% of cats will react in this way to catnip, with kittens and older cats less likely to be affected. The effect of catnip only lasts for 10-15 minutes, and your cat will have to wait several hours to get the euphoria of catnip again.

This fragrant herb is one of the easiest cat friendly house plants to grow, requiring not much more than a sunny windowsill, well-drained soil and plenty of water.

Wondering if you can make use of catnip too?

Definitely! Catnip tea is great for a number of ailments, from fevers to digestive issues, so long as you do not consume too much of it. Check out this recipe on catnip tea. 

CAT MINT (NEPATA MUSSINII)

cat mint plant

The cat mint plant is related to the catnip plant, with both of them sharing similar characteristics.

Wondering why you would choose one over the other?

Well, catnip will have a much greater effect on your cat compared to cat mint. However, cat mint is a much more ornamental plant, with beautiful purple flowers throughout the summer and fall months.

Just like with catnip, cat mint can easily be grown in a pot at home, so long as you water your plant regularly until it has become fully established.

CAT GRASS (DACTYLIS GLOMERATA)

cat grass

Cat grass is a term that refers to a number of different grass types, with each one being beneficial for cats in their own way.

These include:

  • Wheatgrass
  • Barley
  • Oat
  • Rye
  • Couch Grass

Usually, when you buy a packet of cat grass seeds, it will feature a mix of these different grass types.

What does cat grass actually do for your cat?

It helps to cleanse their stomach, ensuring that your cat does not experience any problems with digestion.

Cat grass grows quickly, and will be ready for your cat to eat less than two weeks after you have sown the seeds. However, unlike catnip and cat mint, cat grass is an annual, meaning that you will need to sow new seeds each year.

LEMONGRASS (CYMBOPOGON CITRATUS)

With a sweet and lemony scent and flavor, lemongrass is a tropical type of grass that makes a regular appearance in Asian dishes.

Not only is this a herb that you can use in the kitchen in several different ways, but it is also one that your cat will really enjoy.

It has a similar effect to catnip when your cat chews on it, but be sure to only allow this in moderation.

When growing lemongrass from seed…

It takes about three months for you to have a plant that is ready for your cat to nibble on. Alternatively, you can also purchase lemongrass plants to give you a head start.

VALERIAN (VALERIANA OFFICINALIS)

valerian plant

Valerian is a medicinal plant with a number of different health-boosting properties.

With humans, valerian acts as a sedative, which is why it is often used to treat insomnia and anxiety.

However, with cats, valerian has the opposite effect…

The herb acts as a stimulant for felines, and many cat owners use this plant as a way to encourage lazier cats to exercise more.

This is another plant that is so easy to grow indoors, as it tolerates a wide variety of soil types and does not need too much sunlight.

CAT THYME (TEUCRIUM MARUM)

Cat Thyme

Although it may look similar to regular thyme, cat thyme is actually a germander, which is a group of fragrant herbs that come from the mint family. It has quite a pungent scent, and this is something that tends to attract cats to it.

While it has similar effects to catnip, many cats actually prefer cat thyme. If you have tried growing catnip and your cat hasn’t taken to it, it could be worth giving cat thyme a try.

Can’t find any cat thyme seeds?

Regular thyme can be grown for your cat too, with this herb able to help your feline with digestion.

Each of these six cat friendly house plants are so simple to grow, and offer up a wide range of benefits for your feline.

If you have enough windowsill space, try growing a few different feline-friendly herbs, creating a special indoor herb garden for your cat.

Looking for more plant ideas for your cat? Check out this article by Catster.  

Are there any herbs or other plants that your cat particularly loves? Let us know in the comments section below!

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