Herbs Non-Toxic to Cats

Herbs non-toxic to cats at a glance

  • Basil
  • Catnip
  • Chervil
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Fennel
  • Lemon balm
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Savory (summer)
  • Savory (winter)
  • Thyme

Herbs are a group of plants whose leaves, seeds or flowers are used to flavour food. While cats are more discriminating than dogs, they don’t automatically know which plants are toxic or non-toxic.

Related: Plants toxic to cats


Basil plant

About: An aromatic herb with 50-100 species, basil is popular in several dishes including Italian cuisine and is the main ingredient of pesto.

Scientific name: Ocimum basilicum

Other names: Saint-Joseph’s-wort

Care: Basil needs 6-8 hours of sunlight a day and prefers moist but well-drained soil.


Catnip plant

About: The most well-known herb among cat-lovers, catnip is a member of the mint family and can induce a euphoric high among 2/3rds of cats. This herb has some medicinal uses in human medication but is generally not a herb with culinary uses.

Scientific name: Nepeta catara

Other names: Cataria, Catnep, Catrup, Cat’s healall, Cats-play, True catnip, Cat’s wort, Catswort, Catwort, Chi hsueh tsao, Field balm, Garden Nep, Herba Cataria, Herba Catti, Nebada, Nep

Care: Catnip likes light, sandy soil and grows best in full sun. Keep it well watered until it has become established. As the plant is growing, pinch out the top growth tips to promote bushiness.



About: A delicate annual herb popular in French cuisine, chervil is related to parsley but has a milder flavour.

Scientific name: Anthriscus cerefolium

Other names: French parsley

Care: Grow in a cool, moist and semi-shaded position.

Cilantro and coriander

Cilantro or coriander

About: An annual herb which invokes much debate, people either love it or hate it. Cilantro is popular in Latin American, Asian and Indian cuisine.

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum

Other names: Chinese parsley

Care: Grow in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil.



About: An annual, self-seeding herb that is endemic to Eurasia. Dill is popular in Scandinavian and Eastern European countries, especially seafood, soup and potato dishes.

Scientific name: Anethum graveolens

Other names: Dillweed

Care: Dill is easy to grow; it prefers full sun and is not too fussy with its water requirements.



About: This versatile perennial herb is a member of the carrot family, fennel has an aniseed-like flavour and can be finely sliced and added raw to salads or eaten cooked in soups, stir-fries and roasts.

Scientific name: Foeniculum vulgare

Other names: Florence Fennel, Finocchio

Care: Fennel is best grown from seed in spring and is best planted outside. It likes a sunny position in well-drained soil.

Lemon balm

Lemon balm

About: Lemon balm is a perennial herb in the mint family. It is used in teas and to flavour foods including fish, poultry and vegetables.

Scientific name: Melissa officinalis

Other names: Balm, common balm, balm mint

Care: Lemon balm is easy to grow; it prefers full sunlight and well-drained soil.



About: My favourite herb, rosemary is a woody, aromatic perennial herb which is highly versatile. It pairs beautifully with any roast meat or vegetable and can be used in soups, stocks and gin-based cocktails.

Scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Other names:

Care: Rosemary is a hardy and easy to grow herb; it likes full sunlight in well-drained soil.



About: Sage is a perennial evergreen with greyish leaves on woody stems. It is used to flavour meats including Sage pork, beef, duck and chicken recipes as well as in risottos and tomato-based dishes.

Scientific name: Salvia officinalis

Other names:

Care: Sage likes medium-full sun in well-drained and sandy soil.

Savory (summer)

Summer savory

About: Savory (summer) is an aromatic annual closely related to rosemary and thyme and is used to flavour grilled meats. It has a more delicate flavour than its winter cousin (below).

Scientific name: Satureja hortensis

Other names:

Care: Plant in full sun in rich, well-drained soil.

Savory (winter)

Winter savory

About: Savory (winter) is an aromatic perennial native to warm regions in the south of Europe and Africa. It has a peppery flavour and can be used to flavour stews, stews, and sauces.

Scientific name: Satureja montana

Other names:

Care: Winter savory grows well in full sun in well-drained soil.



About: Another favourite, thyme is an aromatic perennial evergreen with an aromatic taste. This versatile herb is popular in Italian cooking and goes well in herbs and stews.

Scientific name: Thymus vulgaris

Other names:

Care: Thyme likes to grow in full sun in well-drained soil. Trim the tips of the plant occasionally to promote bushiness.


  • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio

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