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Home > Cats > Is a Catnip Stick Safe for My Cat? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Is a Catnip Stick Safe for My Cat? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

Natural catnip sticks for cat

Vet approved

Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Your cat may love catnip, but you probably don’t enjoy the mess that the loose leaves make around the house while your kitty enjoys itself! Catnip sticks may look like a cleaner and neater option, but are they safe for your cat? While you should supervise your cat when chewing, catnip sticks are considered a safe and non-toxic option for your pet.

In this article, we will talk about the benefits of catnip sticks and related products made of silvervine. We will also tell you how to keep your cat safe while playing with these sticks and reveal the mystery behind why some kitties could care less about catnip!


What Is Catnip and Why Do Cats Love It?

Catnip is a plant from the mint family containing a natural chemical called nepetalactone. The scent of catnip triggers various emotional and physical responses in a cat’s brain. It commonly produces feelings of happiness and relaxation as the cat chews, rolls in, or sniffs it.

Many cat toys contain catnip, and it’s available in a plain, dried form, along with the sticks. You’ll also find other plants that produce a similar response in cats, including silvervine, honeysuckle, and valerian.

gray cat near catnip plants
Image Credit By: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

The Benefits of Catnip Sticks

We already mentioned that catnip sticks could be a less messy way for your cat to get their fill of this plant, but there are other benefits as well.

Most people know that dogs love to chew, but cats also have an oral fixation, especially when they’re teething. Cats may chew on inappropriate or dangerous items like electrical cords, wooden furniture, or clothes without safe options. Catnip sticks allow your cat to gnaw on something safe that may also put them in a good mood.

In addition, the action of chewing on a catnip (or silvervine) stick can help reduce tartar and keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy. Offering a variety of toys and enrichment objects helps keep them mentally stimulated, reducing the chances that they’ll develop destructive behaviors.

Catnip can really enrich your cat's life, especially if you choose a fun, well-built catnip toy. Our favorite option is Hepper's Catnip Stick Toy, which offers sturdy construction, 100% organic catnip fill, and a great range of colors. These toys are handmade in the USA and feature bite-proof double bagging.

Hepper Stick Catnip Cat Kicker Toy
  • No Filler - Like all the best cat toys our is stuffed with 100% organic catnip. Cheap cat toys with...
  • Flexible Play - Simple plush shape is great for biting, scratching and pawing. It can start life as...
  • Durably Designed - Our cat safe toys are hand-stitched with a double-lined exterior construction for...

At Pet Keen, we've admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

What Are Catnip Sticks?

Although sold as “catnip sticks” for marketing purposes, the majority of these products on the market are Silvervine stems. This is great news for all those kitties that do not react to catnip, as chances are that the “catnip sticks” will work for them.

Sticks of catnips on white backgrounds
Image Credit By: Volosina, Shutterstock

Safety Tips for Offering Catnip Sticks

To ensure your cat enjoys their catnip stick safely, supervise them while they are chewing. This precaution is especially vital if your cat is a destructive chewer. Some cats may bite off whole chunks of the stick, which could be a choking hazard or cause an intestinal blockage if swallowed.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on the catnip stick since it will get worn and splintered. The splinters could irritate your cat’s mouth. Replace with a fresh catnip stick once splintering occurs.

Not Every Cat Reacts to Catnip: Here’s Why

If you’ve tried offering your kitty catnip before only to find that they were unenthusiastic, you’re not alone. Multiple studies have found that as many as one in three cats have no response to catnip. The catnip response is believed to be inherited, and those kitties probably don’t have the right genetics.

However, research also shows that catnip alternatives, especially silvervine, have a much higher response rate. One study found that 80% of cats react to silvervine, including 75% of kitties who had no response to catnip. If your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, but you want them to experience the benefits of chewing, consider silvervine sticks as an alternative.



As we’ve learned, catnip sticks are a safe and fun way to keep your cat entertained, with added benefits for dental health. However, like many toys, they should only be offered when your cat is supervised to avoid issues. Contact your veterinarian if you’re ever concerned that your kitty may have bitten off and swallowed a chunk of the catnip stick.

Featured Image Credit: Lermont51, Shutterstock

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