Crazy for catnip
Catnip is the one thing that can turn a pretty mellow cat into one completely helpless with excitement. It encourages cats to play, exercise and partake in healthy activity, as well as make them generally feel good. But what is catnip, why is it so popular with cats, and how can you use it at home to keep your cat happy and healthy? That’s exactly what we’re hoping to answer today!
What is catnip, and what does it do?
Catnip has long been associated with the feline family, with lions, tigers, panthers and your domestic kitty all seemingly not being able to get enough of it. But what is it? Putting it simply, it’s a herb from the mint family, but a herb that sends cats crazy in all the best ways.
Officially named Nepeta Cataria (N. Cataria), but commonly known as catnip, catwort, catswort, or catmint, catnip is originally from Europe and Asia, and has a minty, lemony, potent scent. It’s been used medicinally since ancient Roman times for a variety of ailments, more recently used as a herbal tea to aid digestion. For cats, it contains the feline attractant, nepetalactone, which naturally has a behavioural effect on the cat family. Several tests showed that leopards, cougars, servals and lynxes often reacted strongly to catnip in a manner similar to domestic cats [Credit: Wikipedia.org], with domestic cats showing common behaviours when exposed to catnip such as rolling, pawing and frisking, instinctual behaviours sparked by the scent, or the taste, of this tempting herb.
It’s actually the catnip oil derived from the plant that sends cats crazy, found in the leaves, stems and seeds, and it only takes one or two sniffs of this potent oil before susceptible felines are in ultimate catnip paradise. It’s important to remember that not all cats are sensitive to catnip, so it’s not guaranteed to receive a reaction from your cat. Effects can also vary, making some cats more mellow and calm. It’s genetics that determines whether your feline friend is affected by catnip, with about one cat in two inheriting a sensitivity to the herb and kittens sometimes not showing a reaction to catnip until they pass 6 months of age [Credit: pets.webmd.com]. However, the majority of cats do see and feel the effects, and it can be an easy, cost effective and enjoyable way to encourage your cat’s natural instincts to keep them in tip top condition and ensure hours of entertainment, for them and for you.
How can Catnip be used?
Spray it, rub it, feed it, sprinkle it, stuff it. However you use it, catnip is a brilliant exercise and training tool, contributing to your cats overall health and happiness. Available in various forms, including dried catnip (the most popular form), sprays, bubbles and infusions, it provides your cat with an instant reward, delivering quality catnip moments over and over again. A natural mood enhancer, it’s generally thought that the active compound within, nepetalactone, mimics the effect of a cat pheromone making cats become more “kitten-ish” or particularly affectionate while the effects are present [Credit: hillspet.com].
Perfect for applying to scratching posts, toys, bedding areas, crates, carriers and more, catnip an extremely versatile play accessory for cats of all breeds, ages, sizes and abilities, and can be tactfully used on your cat’s play accessory to provide an ideal place for her to exhibit her natural instincts. For example, spraying catnip or applying dried catnip to a cat scratcher encourages your cat to play, scratch, nibble and stretch, naturally acting as a stress-relief for your cat and allowing your cat to exhibit their natural instincts in an appropriate environment, rather than on your furniture and home furnishings. Win, win, right? We think so!
Catnip can also be consumed by cats, not just sniffed. Sniffing catnip often produces a stimulant effect, while ingesting catnip will often naturally sedate your cat, with them showing signs of drooling, sleepiness and purring. Whichever way you use it, it can be a great addition to your cat’s environment! No matter what reaction your cat has to catnip, its effects will last between 5 and 15 minutes. Once the effects have worn down it will be about two hours before your cat responds to catnip again [Credit: pets.webmd.com].
Is catnip safe?
The simple answer is yes, it’s completely safe and a lot of cat’s love it!
Despite its behavioural effects on cats, catnip is not a drug. It is completely harmless to our feline friends, and can be a fantastic addition to a cat’s environment to encourage instinctual and healthy activity. 100% safe, non-toxic and non-addictive, there are now a number of potent and effective catnip products available in a variety of forms, including bubbles, powders, sprays, sachets. There are even toys and scratchers made that have already been infused, filled or sprayed with catnip for instant effects on your cat prolonging play and encouraging even more fun from the moment you receive it.
Can cat's over-indulge?
Unfortunately yes, so it’s important to offer catnip into your cat’s environment in moderation. The effects of catnip can wear out if it’s offered too often, and it can also cause an upset stomach if too much is ingested at once. It is rare, but cats can vomit or have diarrhoea if they ingest too much catnip, so owners should always be mindful of the amount of catnip their cat has access too on a daily, or weekly, basis.
All cat’s are different, so the effects it will have on your cat will vary from the effects it will have on, for example, the family feline two doors down. If any cat is exposed to catnip too frequently they will stop responding to it. So, the moral of the story? Everything in moderation!
Catnip is a herb associated with the mint family, originally derived from Europe and Asia. It is completely safe for cats providing non-additive, non-toxic, natural behavioural effects on not only domestic cats, but also other species in the feline family, often resulting in cats pawing, licking, rolling, drooling, and more. It doesn’t effect all cats, but with many it can spark healthy activity and exercise, encouraging your cat to bat, swat, roll, kick, relax, frisk, jump and more.
Effects of catnip normally last between 5 and 15 minutes, often referred to as a catnip “high”, with the effects this potent herb has on your cat being related to their genetics. It can be great fun for your cat, and for you too, with a multitude of products available to indulge your cat in ultimate catnip luxury.
Want to stop your cat damaging your furniture and home furnishings? Rub a scratching post with catnip or spray with a convenient catnip spray, to make it more appealing. Bought a new cat toy? Rub or fill the toy with a pinch of dried catnip to send your cat into a frisky frenzy. Take a look at our catnip products here to find out more about how you can introduce catnip as a part of your cat’s environment.