Many cat owners wonder whether catnip expires, and, if so, how long does catnip last? The concern is valid because catnip manufacturers don’t always mention the “use by” date.
And that’s because dry catnip doesn’t expire like cosmetics or food.
However, a lack of a precise expiration date doesn’t mean that all catnip products are risk-free to use for unlimited time or that catnip never needs a replacement.
Catnip tinctures, bubbles, and treats have additives that may affect the product’s shelf life and threaten a cat’s health if used after the expiration date.
For catnip products to be safe and have maximum efficacy, learn to store catnip correctly to prolong its shelf life.
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Does Catnip Expire?
Dry catnip, like most dry herbs, doesn’t expire in a traditional sense because it’s dehydrated. Like herbs on your spice rack, catnip doesn’t “go bad” but loses its potency over time.
Perhaps, you’ve seen that spices on your rack don’t have a “use by” date but a “best before” date because they won’t harm your health if they get old but will lose the flavor.
So, if your cat stopped reacting to catnip, the herb may have gone old. However, there are exceptions. If catnip was stored incorrectly and some moisture got inside the jar, the herb can rot or grow mold.
Catnip’s shelf life also depends on its type. Fresh catnip should be used in a few days, or it may rot like any fresh herb. The shelf life of other catnip products depends on additives such as preservatives and natural ingredients.
Is Old Catnip Dangerous for Cats?
Old catnip poses no threat to feline health as long as it is stored correctly. Catnip covered in mold or fungus can harm a cat’s health, causing poisoning symptoms such as gastroenteric upset, muscle spasms, and tremors.
Other ingredients in expired catnip products can also harm a cat’s health. For example, old treats can upset a cat’s stomach, and some chemicals may cause liver damage. Still, generally, old catnip is of no danger to cats.
Loose catnip shelf life depends on storage. If stored correctly, dry catnip can last for years, although it will gradually lose its potency regardless. But if catnip is exposed to sun and air, it can lose potency in a few weeks.
Loose catnip mixed with other herbs, such as silvervine or Tatarian honeysuckle, has the same shelf life as regular dry catnip.
The shelf life of catnip sprays depends on the ingredients. Natural catnip sprays only contain catnip essential oil and water.
Such products have a long shelf life of two to three years, provided they are stored according to the instructions.
However, many essential oils are diluted with carrier oils, such as soybean oil, that have a shorter shelf life. Check the label for the ingredient list when buying catnip spray to ensure the oil is pure.
Some catnip sprays are mixed with artificial preservatives that make them last even longer.
In most cases, the spray will be finished long before it expires, so there’s no sense in risking your cat’s health by exposing it to potentially dangerous chemicals.
As a rule of thumb, check the bottle for expiration or “best before” date. Sometimes, manufacturers recommend using the spray within a specific time from opening the bottle.
Like loose catnip, catnip sprays and oils lose their potency when exposed to heat or sun, but they don’t go bad.
How long catnip toys last depends on how you store them. Catnip toys that constantly lie in the open are only effective for several days to a week.
The biggest mistake in using catnip toys is giving your cat free access to them like regular toys. Firstly, if the toys are exposed to oxygen and sunlight, they lose potency. Secondly, a cat regularly exposed to catnip develops tolerance.
The right way to use catnip toys is to give them to a cat for a few minutes and hide them away in a dark, dry place. This way, loose catnip in a toy can preserve its potency for six months to over a year.
The good news is that you can quickly revive catnip toys by rubbing loose catnip on them, spritzing them with catnip spray, or replacing the herb inside.
Catnip bubble shelf life varies by product, depending on the ingredients. Most bubbles only contain safe-to-ingest soap, water, glycerin, and catnip oil.
Because all the ingredients have a long shelf life, you can expect catnip bubbles to last for several years. The product is likely to finish long before it expires.
There’s no need to worry about the shelf life of loose catnip, catnip sprays, or bubbles because even if these products are long past the “use by” date, they are unlikely to harm your pet.
In contrast, watching out for catnip treat expiration date is crucial because treats are meant for ingesting and may contain ingredients with a relatively short lifespan.
Catnip itself isn’t a matter of concern in catnip treats. It may lose potency but not go bad. However, cat treats often contain animal by-products, eggs, and other ingredients with a maximum shelf life of several months.
If you see no expiration date on the catnip treat package, use them within six months at most. If there is an expiration date, refer to it, but only if you store the treats according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Many cheap catnip treats are high in artificial preservatives that extend the product’s shelf life to several years.
Although such treats are less likely to go bad, avoid them because regular preservative consumption may harm your cat in the long term.
As a rule of thumb, the more natural cat treats, the shorter their shelf life. Homemade catnip treats from fresh meat or fish, eggs, and catnip extract should be consumed within a few days.
If a cat has eaten expired catnip treats, it may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastroenteric symptoms. No need to rush to a vet if the treats are a week old, but if they expired months ago, don’t postpone the visit.
How To Understand Catnip Has Gone Old
The most apparent sign catnip has gone old is that your cat doesn’t react to it anymore, although it used to go crazy over the herb. However, a loss of interest in catnip may also indicate tolerance.
Tolerance occurs when a cat is exposed to catnip too frequently. For example, if you have catnip toys lying around the house at all times, your cat will soon lose interest in them even if catnip is still fresh.
However, if your cat doesn’t have catnip often and it suddenly stops working, you can assume it has gone old and needs a replacement. Sometimes, cats don’t lose responsiveness to catnip, but its effect becomes less strong.
No matter how you store catnip, it will lose its potency after some time, so don’t expect to use one pack of loose herb for five years. Even with all precautions, replace it every year.
As for catnip products, you can often understand whether they’re still ok to use by appearance. For example, catnip sprays and tinctures shouldn’t delaminate. If they do, they have been stored incorrectly or are past the expiration date.
With treats, the safest option is to check the date on the package, but you should also pay attention to the changes in smell and look. If you don’t remember how long ago you bought the treats, don’t risk it.
How to Make Catnip Last Longer
Learn how to store catnip correctly to prolong its shelf life. The worst enemies of catnip are sunlight, oxygen, warmth, and humidity.
Store loose catnip in an airtight container such as a jar with a lid or plastic box. Ziplock bags do the job, but they aren’t particularly durable. The seal will keep oxygen and moisture out and prevent mold growth.
Keep the container away from sunlight in a cool place, for example, in your kitchen cabinet. Cellars are too humid for catnip. Ensure that your cat can’t get to the herb – ideally, store it on a high shelf where your pet can’t jump.
Don’t let catnip toys lying around in the open. Store them in a ziplock bag or airtight container like you would store loose herbs somewhere in the kitchen cabinet. Only give them to your cat occasionally for a few minutes.
The storage instructions for catnip sprays and tinctures aren’t much different, but you don’t need to keep them in a bag or container. Close the bottle tightly after use.
Store catnip treats in their original bag and always close the package properly. If you want to store the treats in a different container, place the entire bag into it rather than pour the kibble directly into the container.
There’s no need to keep treats with preservatives in a fridge, but a cool place is a must for homemade or organic treats.