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What Does Catnip Do To Cats? What Is It?

Why does your feline look like she is high as soon as she sniffs catnip? The reason behind it is very logical and it requires some knowledge about the plant itself. Catnip allows your cat to goof around for a maximum of 15 minutes. Interestingly, your feline can use one plant a countless number of times. Read and discover how you can grow this plant by yourself and what are the benefits.

Catnip is a herb from the mint family Labiatae. The term ‘catnip’ originates from the reactions that cats have toward this plant. Interestingly, cats enjoy this plant. Some see it as a mind-altering substance for cats that can overdose cats. But, there is much more when it comes to this plant and your felines love toward it.

Catnip Intro

Catnip is a herb that contains a certain chemical, known as nepetalactone. This chemical is responsible for triggering the amazing response that cats have toward this plant. However, not all cats are affected by this interesting plant. Sensitivity to nepetalactone is exclusively an inherited trait. Also, these reactions are not strictly reserved for domestic cats. Wild felines can be exposed to nepetalactone as well.

Catnip is used for a number of different purposes, from training purposes to those with entertaining character. It’s also a natural pest repellent. Catnip is also suitable for humans (but not by pregnant women, please), and having a catnip tea is a thing. Prepared like (as a tea) this, catnip can help with insomnia, digestive upsets, and headaches. This plant is easy to grow at home.

Furthermore, catnip can be used as a training tool when it comes to encouraging your pet to use new scratching post.

Good to know: Cantip is neither addictive nor harmful for kitties.

Is Catnip A Drug For Cats?

Catnip is usually described as a drug for cats. However, it is kind of true. Firstly, it’s not harmful. Secondly, there is a scientific explanation of why your cat goes high. Basically, cats react to catnip thanks to a volatile oil known as nepetalactone that interacts with the nasal tissue. Basically, when your feline intake catnip it starts to replicate pheromones that in turn switch on feline receptors and make all sorts of neuron light bulbs pop off in the cat’s brain.

Catnip produces a sort of similar reaction to dabbling with LSD or even marijuana. Catnip high lasts for little more than 10 minutes. After that catnip sensors are reset.

Nepetalactone For Cats

Nepetalactone is a chemical compound found in catnip the plant that attracts and affects cats. It can only be found in the stems and the leaves. Simply said, nepetalactone is a stimulant. Therefore, catnip is not a drug. As a stimulant, nepetalactone enables a ‘high’.

This ‘high’ moment doesn’t last for too long, as the catnip restarts in 10 minutes, and your cat goes back to normal behavior. When, and if, your feline eats catnip, it acts as a sedative. But when smelled it causes the cat to go crazy. The general opinion is that catnip can mimic feline pheromones and trigger those receptors.

Catnip’s Effects

Cats are known for acting as they like. They have their own system of rules and they act accordingly. So, when they intake a bit of catnip they act like any other pet – they are having fun. Therefore, there are a few behaviors that are common to felines in season (when females are in heat). So, you can see your feline how she rub her head, jump around, salivate and even vocalize.

Bear in mind that this response lasts for about 10 minutes after the cat becomes temporarily immune to strong catnip for another 30 minutes. After that period she can eat or sniff again. She will experience the same effects as the first time.

Also, response to catnip is hereditary, and about 70 to 80 percent of cats exhibit this template of behavior in the plant’s presence. One in two cats inherits a sensitivity to the herb.

Also, to some cats, catnip can awaken a darker side. Therefore some cats can be aggressive, or their game can simply be aggressive playfulness. At the same time, it makes others calm and mellow.

Good to know: Catnip can’t affect your cat until she is six months old at least.

Catnip: Toys And Training

Two things are great about this herb. Firstly, it’s not dangerous for your feline. Secondly, a cat can respond to it a number of times. Altogether, these traits are making it an extremely powerful training aid. Even when they are grown cats.

For example, if you want to save your furniture and stop your kitty from clawing furniture, use catnip. Just rub a scratching post to make it more appealing. It’s a smart move to use catnip even when you buy your cat a new bad or cushion – it will make it more attractive to your feline friend.

Also, you can make your felines indoor time more interesting by creating catnip toys. All you need is catnip and a bottle for you to sprinkle a bit of the herb into an old sock, then knot the top. Or, simply put catnip in a small bag and squeeze it into a tight ball.

This is a great way to improve your felines playing experience and to offer her some diversity in her playtime routine.

Catnip Dosage

Although, catnip is not dangerous for your cat you should be careful when it comes to serving your cat with this herb. However, if your cat eats too much of this herb the only ‘bad’ thing that can happen to her is to experience digestive problems.

All you have to do is to sprinkle floors, posts and etc. with dried catnip. Again, avoid feeding in their bowl due to possible digestive issues.

You can give catnip to your cat fresh, as you can grow it easily indoors. There is also a spray option, that can be used to refresh old catnip toys or old felines play areas.

Also, you can find a number of toys filled with catnip in pet shops.

To Buy Or Grow Catnip?

You can’t go wrong whatever you choose. There are no specific differences in home-grown catnip and the one that you purchase from the market. Dried catnip is always easy to find in local pet shops, together with cat toys that already have catnip within. In pet shops, you can find catnip in a spray form.

Also, if you are keen toward nurturing plants, you can grow your own catnip. You just need to go to the closest herb market or any herb section in bigger supermarkets. Also, you can seed it in its seed form, as its best planted in early spring. Catnip is not a tiny plant so you can be ready to witness a quite large plant that prefers sandy soil and full sun.

Are There Other Plants That Act Like Catnip?

Recent results showed that there are three other plants that have similar effects on cats like catnip. Those plants are:

  1. Silver vine (Actinidia polygama)
  2. Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica)
  3. Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis)

However, none of these plants actually contain nepetalactone. But they do contain a number of similar compounds.

Conclusion On Catnip And Cats

Fortunately for your feline, catnip is not addictive for your feline and its 100% safe for your feline to use it. Also, it is easy to grow and to make it organic. After all, your felines deserved the best. Including organic herbs. You can even make your own kitty garden make from catnip, oat, wheat, barley grass, or even rye.

Having catnip around is a good thing especially if you have an active cat or you just got a kitten. Catnip will help your cat to lose that extra energy and to be happier.

However, catnip is just an instant solution that lasts for no more than 15 minutes. But the great thing about catnip is that it can affect your cat for a number of times. Also, if you are using a fresh catnip you can always store in the freezer and use it any time you want.

Frequent Questions On Catnip For Cats

Is Catnip A Drug For Cats?

Officially, catnip is not a drug for cats. Unofficially, it is called drug for its drug-like effects in the cats. Catnip is actually a plant from the mint family. Cats own its strange behaviors thanks to nepetalactone.

Is Catnip Dangerous For My Cat?

Considering the fact that catnip is not a drug, its completely safe for your cat. In fact, catnip is more a stimulant, than a drug. It is not a drug, so it’s completely safe for your cat.

Why Does Catnip Make Cats Go Crazy?

Scientists claim that catnip targets cats ‘happy’ receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for creating happy emotions. However, cats react to catnip by rubbing, flipping and rolling. They may even meow or growl at the same time.

Is Too Much Catnip Bad For Cats?

Yes and no. Catnip is not directly dangerous for your cat. However, if your feline intakes an overdose of catnip the worst thing that could happen is for your feline to get diarrhea, or even vomiting.

Why Do We Give Cats Catnip?

Cats respond to catnip repeatedly. Therefore, this herb is a powerful training aid. Sprinkle a little of the herb on kitty’s bad or cushion and it will make it more attractive to your feline friend. You can also use catnip to create or enrich catnip toys.

Can I Give My Cat Catnip Everyday?

You can give catnip to your feline on a daily level in proper doses. However, bear in mind that your cat may be overactive or even aggressive when she takes in catnip, so it might be better to reward your cat with this goody occasionally.