Cats love catnip. And the herb is completely safe – there is nothing therein which could harm your cat. Should your cat be unfortunate enough to get to eat a larger quantity of catnip it can cause mild agitation in the stomach, but it’s not likely.
What is catnip?
Catnip is an ancient herb from the mint family. It originates from North Africa and the Mediterranean but now grows naturally in Europe and North America. The herb has got different nicknames such as catnip and cat-mint which is undoubtedly inspired by cats well-known taste for the plant.
Why does cats love it?
The active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone. Cats detects this substance with an so-called oil-factor. The general perception is that nepetalactone mimics the effect of a cat fragrance, possibly related to mating.
Catnip acts as a natural mood stimulant. It may get your cat to behave a little unusual, it may become more kitten-like or distinctly amorous. It may also roll around, lick, drool, howl, scratch or rub its face against the catnip. It might also slip around and becomes excited, running from room to room and seem to chase an invisible prey.
Some cats will just be very relaxed and start staring into space. This behavior might be marked by some meow or Knorr. The effects of catnip is short, it usually lasts between 5 and 15 minutes. Then it will take a couple hours before the cat will again demonstrate the effects of catnip.
Why give my cat catnip?
Your cat will enjoy catnip. It is an excellent treat to use during training or to encourage your cat to use scratching toy or to sleep in its own bed. It may also be a good way to encourage your cat to exercise and it might even help your cat to relax if it’s tired or stressed. Whatever the cause, it’s entertaining! – and good for the cat.
How should I give my cat catnip?
Catnip is available in several different forms. You can buy powdered catnip that you can sprinkle on the floor or on toys. Some toys come scented with catnip or catnip inside. You can also get the catnip as oil or oil spray which can be used to get to toys or bedding. Cats react to even a very small dose of catnip, so you shouldn’t use very much.
My cat does not seem to react to catnip
About 30% of cats show no visible reaction to catnip. It is apparently genetically determined, whether you react to catnip or not. Many cats simply do not have facilities to respond to catnip.
Despite their playful nature, kittens generally do not react to catnip until after they are approximately six months. You might also find that your cat when it gets older, loses interest in catnip.
Catnip seems to make my cat aggressive
Some cats, usually male cats can become aggressive when you give them catnip – probably because the catnip is related to mating behavior. If this is the case with your cat, do not use it.
You might consider an alternative like honeysuckle or valerian. Talk to a specialist. He or she will tell you whether they think catnip is right for your cat or recommend other alternatives. Good luck from here!
Video of a cat getting catnip for the first time
My other Cat and Kitten-related articles:
Keeping your Cat or Kitten Fit