catnip herb

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Catnip?(In Depth Analysis)

You should not feed catnip to guinea pigs as there is not enough scientific evidence that they are safe for their consumption. There are chances that feeding catnip to your guinea pigs can lead to heavy digestive distress. 

Let’s take a deeper look at this topic…

Is catnip okay for guinea pigs?

Guinea pigs must never be fed catnip as it can lead to various health-related problems in the guinea pig. Feeding any part of the catnip plant to your piggie, including the leaves, stems, and seeds is a terrible idea and can lead to a visit to the vet.

Catnips are a herb of the mint family and are okay for consumption by cats however they are known to be toxic for birds. Mint is generally regarded as safe for the consumption of guineapigs however catnips possess many other distinct characteristics that can make them a bit iffy for consumption.

Hence just because it’s safe for the consumption of a particular type of animal, doesn’t mean it will be safe for all other animals. Intensive research on the detailed effects of catnip consumption by guinea pigs is yet to be done and so it is best to avoid feeding catnips to your beloved little piggies, the risk is not worth it…

What does catnip do to guinea pigs?

Catnips are thought to cause digestion-related distress, diarrhea, fatigue, and nausea. They are known to make guinea pigs demonstrate symptoms similar to food poisoning. However, there are not many in-depth studies or scientific research done on this topic of how catnip affects guinea pigs biologically, hence it is best to avoid feeding such food items to your guinea pig.

  • You should avoid feeding food items to your guinea pig, which you are not sure about.
  • Never take a chance cause guinea pigs have got a very sensitive stomach and it’s best for their well-being that they remain on a familiar safe diet.

Catnip equivalent alternative for Guinea Pigs

There are many herbs that guinea pigs can eat as an alternative to catnips:

1. Rocket leaves

Rocket leaves, also known as arugula are a popular favorite of guinea pigs. You can mix it up with other herbs and leafy greens and feed the guineapigs as a salad. As rocket leaves are rich in calcium, you should feed them in moderation and only once or twice a week and not on a daily basis.

2. Cilantro

This particular herb has got a strong fragrance of its own and hence you may find your guineapigs either loving it or hating it. Its rich in calcium and oxalic acid so you must feed them once in a while.

3. Fennel

Fennels are also a great alternative to catnips and are also stuffed with vitamin C and fiber. It has mediocre levels of calcium and hence is well suited for the guinea-pig diet.

Fennel belongs to the carrot family and its flavor can be a bit unique, as a result, some guinea pigs may love them, and others may dislike them. However again like all veggies and herbs you need to make them eat fennel in moderation.

4. Parsley

They are rich in vitamin C which guinea pigs cannot synthesize on their own and often suffers a steep deficiency in. Parsley is one of the herbs that is tremendously stuffed with vitamin c.

In fact, on a 100g basis, it has three times more vitamin C in them than oranges! But they are also rich in calcium and hence many guinea-pig caregivers avoid feeding guineapigs parsley. But everything is good in moderation.

5. Basil

  • They are rich in vitamin K, vitamin A, iron, manganese, and calcium. Also rich in fiber and protein.
  • They also consist of proper levels of zinc and antioxidants that help in boosting the immune system.

Word of caution:

  • All of the herbs mentioned above that can be fed to your guinea pigs as an alternative to catnip are pretty rich in calcium. Hence you must never stuff them with these herbs on a daily basis.
  • Doing that will lead to excess accumulation of calcium in the guinea pig which can further lead to serious health problems particularly related to stone formation.
  • Feeding them two or three leaves of any one or two of these herbs every week is more than enough. If your piggie already suffers from any health issue or has a history of stone formation, you should consult with the vet before feeding them these.

Can guinea pigs have catnip toys?

There is not enough evidence that suggests that catnips are completely safe for guineapigs and in fact are known to cause stomach distress in some instances, hence it will be best to avoid letting them have catnip toys, just to take that extra precautious step.

The golden rule you need to follow in these situations where you have to decide whether a particular food or toy is good for them is when in doubt dont let them have it. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Can guinea pigs eat cat grass?

Guineapigs most normally can eat cat grass or wheatgrass without any problem. You should start with little quantities to see that their system is properly taking the grass.
Even though the guinea pig digestive system is equipped to tackle grass in general but if they are not habituated with a particular food item, the sudden introduction of a new food in a larger quantity can lead to stomach problems.
Some guinea pigs may also end up disliking it, so at the end it depends on the guinea-pig itself whether he or she will like it.
Cat grass is the just the much safer alternative to lawn grass which is produced indoors and are generally free of any kind of infection chances and pesticides.

Can Guinea Pigs Eat Cat Food?

Guinea pigs are known to eat dry cat food and they get by fine if they eat it once in a while. Cat foods are rich in protein and fat and contain processed meat in them which is not good news for guineapigs who are herbivorous in nature. So if possible try to avoid feeding them cat food.

Cat foods are typically not rich in vitamin C which is a must part of the guinea-pig daily diet. Cat foods are protein based and hence are not good for the guineapigs as they are much more suited to live off on a carb based diet.

If you want to feed dry cat food to your piggie, it is best to consult with the vet, just to be safe.

That’s it, folks! If you have any queries let me know in the comments.


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