February 2008
The Herb Farm

Herbs for Pets (part 1)

by H. T. Farmer

Lately I have been asked if there were any herbs our pets would like or benefit from. The first one that came to mind was catnip (Nepeta cataria). Catnip is a member of the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family with square stems. This family of plants is considered to be mints, though most of them do not possess the minty aroma or flavor.

Cats especially like the essence of catnip. Manufactured play toys for cats are sometimes stuffed with dried catnip leaves or batting materials pomandized with the oil extracts of this plant.

Another Nepeta cats somewhat like is catmint. The essence doesn’t seem to be quite as wild-behavior inducing as the catnip though.

I remember when back in the 1960s, some of my old hippie friends would smoke the stuff! Stunk up my parlor something terrible. They said it got them all buzzed up! After college, I read where the chemicals in catnip wouldn’t get a gnat to buzz. I figured if they were getting high then it was because they were robbing the oxygen from their brains —- kind of like being almost asphyxiated by being in a house fire.

Cat thyme (Teucrium marum) is a great herb for cats! Though not a true thyme, it looks similar and grows in mounds with delicate purple flowers in the spring. Cat thyme has a medicinal scent to humans. Cats will take a few stems of this plant and play for a long time. You will see them act like they are having fits. They will jump, run, foam at the mouth and roll around on the floor!

It’s fun to watch our furry friends have fun!

Next month I’ll have some more information on herbs our pets like. In the meantime, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions about more herbs for cats and where to find them.

As always; check with an expert, like your veterinarian, before using this or any other herbal remedy.