Rabbits are playful, inquisitive creatures that enjoy spending time with their human companions. However, it’s not easy to raise a bunny because other than maintaining a good and safe home for them, one also has to be careful about their diet.
As herbivores, their diet consists mostly of hay, fresh vegetables, and a small number of pellets. You can feed them some vegetables and fruits as occasional treats but not as a regular part of their diet.
Certain herbs and spices are also considered safe for rabbits. However, since most herbs have a strong aroma, rabbits may not like to eat them at all. Moreover, some of them may contain toxic substances, so you should be very careful when feeding herbs to rabbits.
Since catnip is something cats love, some rabbit owners ask if they can give the same to their bunnies. The answer is yes. Catnip is safe for rabbits. However, the plant has a distinctive smell, which your bunny may not like.
So, let’s explore if it’s safe for rabbits to eat catnip and what are the benefits and risks associated with catnip in a rabbit’s diet.
What is a Catnip?
Catnip or catmint is a perineal herb belonging to the mint family. Cats are quite fond of this herb as a substance called nepetalactone in catnips attracts them. This substance is an essential oil and it has a characteristic strong smell.
Catnip is a popular herb among cat owners. When cats smell catnip, they may exhibit a variety of behaviors. These behaviors include rolling around, rubbing their face in the plant, meowing, purring, and even drooling. Some cats will eat the plant. The effects of catnip typically last for about 10 minutes.
However, not all cats react to catnip. It is believed that the response is genetic. Nevertheless, the herb is considered safe for cats.
Catnip can also be used as a repellent for insects. Catnip oil can be used as an insect repellent. It is effective against mosquitoes, cockroaches, and flies.
Since rabbits are not fond of strong aromas, they would want to avoid catnips. Some bunnies would find the taste of catnip less appealing and may not even touch while others may eat it without any problems.
Can Rabbits Eat Catnip?
Absolutely. Though catnip is believed to be something cats love, it can safely be given to rabbits too. Whether these cute bunnies like it or not is another question. The seeds of catnips should be avoided at all costs whereas the leaves can safely be fed.
It is important to note that you should only give your rabbit a small amount of catnip at a time. Too much catnip can actually have the opposite effect and make your rabbit hyperactive and agitated. It is best to start with just a few leaves or stems and see how your rabbit reacts. If they seem to be enjoying it, you can give them a little bit more.
One of the benefits of catnip for rabbits is that it can help to relieve stress and anxiety. If your rabbit is feeling stressed out or anxious, a little bit of catnip can help to calm them down. Catnip is also a good way to keep your rabbit entertained – they will love playing with the leaves and stems of the plant.
Catnip Risks for Rabbits
There are two main risks that come with feeding catnips to rabbits. First, catnips can cause gastrointestinal issues in rabbits. And second, catnips can also lead to liver damage in rabbits.
The first risk of feeding catnips to rabbits is that it can cause gastrointestinal issues. This is because catnips are very high in fiber. When rabbits overeat fiber, it can lead to problems like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can even lead to intestinal blockages.
The second risk of feeding catnips to rabbits is that it can lead to liver damage. This is because catnips contain a compound called nepetalactone. This compound can be toxic to rabbits and can cause liver damage. In severe cases, it can even be fatal.
How to Feed Rabbits Catnip?
While there are risks associated with eating too much catnip for rabbits, the plant also provides some health benefits. So, if you’re thinking of introducing it to your rabbit’s diet, here are a few tips to make the process smooth and easy for both of you.
It is always a good idea to give any new food in small amounts first. In this way, you will get to know what effect it might have on the bunny’s stomach. It is believed that catnips in dried form can give the rabbit diarrhea and stomach pain, so you need to be very careful when introducing this herb to your rabbit.
Also, dried herbs have a strong smell due to their concentrated nature. It might not be very appealing to your rabbit at first and would become overwhelming for it. Your pet might fall sick due to stress and nervousness.
Fresh catnips are very well accepted by the rabbits and some might love this herb while others might not. It totally depends on the taste of your pet and how you give it to him. Always give it in small quantities and see if the rabbit is accepting it or not.
You should never force-feed it to make him like the herb. If he likes it, he would ask for more but if he doesn’t then he wouldn’t take it in the first place. Be watchful after giving this herb to your pet and see for any abnormal changes.
If you see any abnormal activity, it is best to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your pet’s reaction would give you a clue whether to feed him more or retract.
Once they like it then they would want more. So, it’s always best to start off with a bite or two and see the reaction for some time. If the pet responds positively then give some more.
Catnip is a plant that is known for its effects on cats. The plant contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which attracts cats but repels insects. Catnip can be used as a repellent for mosquitoes, cockroaches, and flies. As an herb, it comes with certain benefits like getting relief from stress and anxiety.
While it’s safe to feed rabbits catnip, they might not respond in a similar way to this plant as cats. They would either like it or dislike it. Cats have a different reaction to catnips and they accept the herb pretty well but rabbits might not give a good response at first due to the strong odor the herb comes with.
It’s good to know, however, that the leaves of catnips are perfectly fine for your bunny to consume. They are, in fact, packed with tons of nutritional benefits. It is advisable to avoid giving seeds and dried parts of the herb to your bunny as they may cause some health issues.
You need to give catnips in small quantities first so that the rabbits are able to respond to the new food given to them. If they like it, it means their bodies will adapt to this new change, but if their bodies retaliate in any way, it might not be a good idea to feed them with catnips. Just be wise enough to judge the signs of your rabbit and keep monitoring the situation after feeding them with catnips.