Is Mint Poisonous To Cats?

One of the most significant responsibilities of a cat owner is to provide them with a healthy and safe environment to live. This is especially true for pet owners and plant lovers. 

There is an extensive list of plants, which might be safe for humans but are toxic to animals. Among these toxic or poisonous plants include members of the mint family Lamiaceae.

Cat smelling a potted mintPin
gurinaleksandr | DepositPhotos

The scientific name of the mint plant is Menthe sp., which is used in:

  • Aromatherapy and essential oil diffusers
  • Folk medicine
  • Cosmetics and personal care products
  • Mint candies, and mint gum
  • Culinary herb
  • Herb gardens
  • Insecticides

Just like:

  • Azaleas
  • Philodendron
  • Marigolds
  • Tulips
  • Daffodils

… mint plants are also a toxic substance to your furry feline friend. But, cats may react differently to the various species within the large mint genus.

While these poisonous plants, including spearmint and peppermint, might not affect all cats the same way, they still trigger a range of minor to severe side effects.

Is Mint Toxic To Cats Or Safe For Cats?

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has included mint in the list of plants that are toxic for cats

Prolonged exposure or ingestion of mint will result in mint poisoning for many cats.

Black cat meowing in a lush garden.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @bomagardencentre

These plants and fresh mint have a strong hold on your furry friend, mostly due to their love for catnip (Nepeta cataria). Cats love catnip (catmint), which is also a member of the family mint, which makes people believe all mints might be safe for their pets.

However, catnip is not the same as mint. 

Most mint plants contain essential oils, like peppermint oil, which are harmful or toxic to cats. The majority of mint poisoning cases occur after cats eat large amounts of mint or are exposed to mint essential oils or other concentrated types of mint.

Keep in mind that not all cats experience the same reactions from mint exposure. 

Just like humans have different tolerance and responses to spicy food, cats also react differently when exposed to garden mint.

What Parts Of The Plant Are Poisonous or Toxic?

All parts of mint, particularly leaves, flowers, and stems, are unsafe for your feline friends. 

These plants are loaded with essential oils, which are highly toxic to not just cats but also horses and dogs. 

Ginger cat sniffs plants in garden pot.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @colintheorangecat

Therefore, make sure your cat doesn’t nibble on mint leaves or any other part of the plant. Keep any mint plants out of the reach of your cat.

What Are The Symptoms Of Poisoning?

The most commonly experienced symptoms of mint poisoning are as follows:

  • Diarrhea
  • Committing
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Liver damage and liver failure
  • Central nervous system damage
  • Headache
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Heartburns
  • Cramps
  • Excessive Vomiting
  • Upset stomach

Another side effect caused by the mint scent is sedation. Your cat may seem dazed, lazy, and sleepy. 

Numerous cat owners refer to this behavior as similar to being stoned. 

Some cats experience a completely opposite reaction. 

Black and white cat with green eyes near plants.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @curvygirlfromstl

For them, mint works as a stimulant, which causes energized, frenzied, and erratic behavior and movements.

In severe cases, it can cause dehydration and may even prove fatal. 

It is essential to be aware of the behaviors, routine, and potty habits to help you identify any alarming signs so you may provide your pet with the right medical and supportive care.

How to Protect Yourself While Handling the Mint Plant

If you are growing or are planning to grow any of the plants from the genus Mentha, then make sure to prevent your cat from accessing these houseplants.  

Avoid keeping the mint indoors if you have an indoor cat, and opt for non-toxic plants, like wheatgrass, valerian, cat grass, and parsley plants. 

Cat sniffing a plant, curious and cute.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @lerrosja

Otherwise, make sure mint is well out of your pet’s reach.

Cat owners must closely monitor their cats’ behavior to identify any signs of mint poisoning proactively.

While eating the mint leaves in small amounts might not lead to poisoning, a larger quantity may be dangerous.

NOTE: If you believe your cat has ingested mint or come in contact with essential oils, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680), a 24/7 animal poison control center, immediately.

Recommended Reading

JOIN Our FREE Plant Care Newsletter 

By entering your email address you agree to receive a daily email newsletter from Plant Care Today. We'll respect your privacy and unsubscribe at any time.