Cooking rhubarb causes my cats to go into a catnip-like frenzy!

by Kim
(Wisconsin)

It took me a while to figure out what was causing my kitties to go into a catnip-like rolling around fun state for seemingly no reason, and then I finally realized it's every time I cook rhubarb sauce.


Has anyone else ever experienced this with their cats? Is it at all harmful to them?

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Apr 02, 2012
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Fascinating!
by: Kurt (Admin)

I've never heard of that one, Kim! That's fascinating. Are you using anything in the recipe that's related to mint? Catnip is sometimes called catmint, and many cats go nuts over minty smells.

There are some other CAT-abulous elixirs that have catnip-like powers, such as honeysuckle and valerian as well. Not all cats are affected by these, nor are all cats entranced by catnip either.

According to the ASPCA, rhubarb is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. The information I've read on this usually refers to the leaves being toxic, but it's difficult to find authoritative resources that go into much detail on these topics.

I certainly would not want my cats to get into any part of the rhubarb plant, just in case (I'm overprotective).

Interestingly, honeysuckle berries are considered poisonous, but they use other parts of the plant in honeysuckle cat toys.

In your case, though, it's the aroma or fumes from the cooking of the rhubarb that we're talking about, rather than ingestion. I would say that a call to the vet is probably a good idea just to get some clarification.

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