Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a herb with a minty, lemony flavor. It’s also known as catmint, catwort, or field balm. The herb has long been associated with cats big and small, including leopards, panthers, as well as domestic tabbies. Catnip can come in different shapes, forms, and sizes. They can come in catnip spray, catnip leaves and more.
Not all cats respond in the same way to catnip. Genetics has a say in whether a cat is reactive to catnip or not. It is estimated that about 50% of cats are not responsive to catnip. You will know whether your cat is sensitive to the herb or not when your pet is between 3-6 months of age. Kittens below 3 months old and senior cats show little to no reaction to catnip.
So what does catnip do? Cats can react to catnip in different ways. Some may appear intoxicated and may drool and roll around on the floor. Experts believe this reaction is similar to what cats exhibit when there is exposure to pheromones that are released during mating season. On the other hand, some cats display hyperactive behavior such as chasing, excessive meowing, and even signs of aggression.
Cats that eat catnip tend to experience sedative effects. Most cats go ‘crazy’ when catnip is smelled. Catnip loses its potency over time, so be sure to store it in an airtight container or freezer to retain freshness.
Cats are attracted to catnip because of a kind of volatile oil that is found in the herb’s leaves, stems, and seeds. It’s an essential oil called ‘nepetalactone’. A whiff or two of this aromatic oil could send sensitive cats to kitty bliss. Some cats experience euphoria, while others become calm and mellow. The effects, however, usually lasts for about 10 minutes. It will take about 2 hours before your cat responds to catnip again.
If your cat is reactive to catnip, you can use it as a tool for training or as an occasional treat. For example, if your cat hardly uses the scratching post, try rubbing some catnip on the post to entice him to run his claws on its surface. Catnip-filled toys can also keep your cat on his toes, providing him with lots of physical and mental stimulation. If you have just moved to a new home, sprinkle some catnip around to help make your kitty feel comfortable. This can also be done when you have a new kitty. It has been shown to help promote a smoother transition as well as better cat-to-cat introductions.
No! Cats do not overdose on catnip. It’s not addicting or harmful to cats. They seem to have an internal switch that limits their desire for catnip. Many experts believe that overexposure may cause a decrease response in the future, thus, it is best to use it occasionally. Some cats experience digestive upsets when they eat a lot of catnip but the problem will resolve in time without treatment.
This is a question that must have run through your mind before! Since it gets your cat high, will you feel the same effects? The answer is that you will not get high with catnip. However, if you would still like to smoke it, you technically can. In addition, as catnip is part of the herb family, it is thought to provide some form of benefits for humans.