Who loves the excitement that comes with watching their cat respond to catnip? Even though catnip doesn’t affect every cat, those who do respond, have varied experiences. Some get playful and happy, making it a great tool to encourage exercise and playtime. Some become more sedated and seem to enjoy a calm sense of contentment, making it a great tool for introducing cats to each other in a calm, caring space. Some rare cats can become a bit aggressive. Luckily, if this is the case, it wears off fairly quickly. And because it’s the most popular herb for cats, worldwide, we’re sharing some fun facts about catnip.
Other names for catnip are kitty crack, catmint, and cat cocaine.
Catnip is a perennial herb in the mint family. It grows to three feet tall and can have blue, pink, or lavender blooms. It’s native to Europe, Africa, and Asia. It grows well in many US regions but was imported to North America.
The active compound in catnip that alters our cat is called, Nepetalactone. Our cats experience something akin to what humans go through on LSD, except catnip is not addictive, and it’s safe to use. Cats can build up a resistance to catnip, however, so use somewhat sparingly.
Cats have two reactions to catnip, depending on how they interact with it. If a cat bites into the leaf, it will have more a sedative effect. If our feline friend inhales the catnip scent, it will have the opposite effect, making her playful and excited. This is why so many toys have dried catnip inside them - to encourage play. In rare cases, some cat companions can become aggressive on catnip.
It comes in four forms. Some people prefer a live plant. Others prefer it dried. For training purposes, many prefer the essential oil in a spray form, so they can encourage kitty’s attention on something, like their scratching post. And others want to get catnip in pellet form.
The three most common uses for catnip is in cat toys to encourage play, on scratching posts to encourage their use, and the live plant can be used in their crate during travel to help them stay calm. For humans, catnip is often used in teas, herbal cigarettes, and in cooking. It helps humans with nausea, headaches, and toothaches, although it shouldn’t be used by pregnant women.
Sometimes catnip is used as a mild mosquito repellent because of the active ingredient, Nepetalactone. It is 10 times as effective as DEET, so growing catnip in the garden is a great idea. However, it does lose its ability to repel mosquitos once it is applied to the skin.
Only 33% of cats are affected by catnip. In particular, cats who are not sexually active, or who are under six months old, will not be affected by catnip. Other popular options are Valerian, Silver Vine, and Tatarian Honeysuckle.
To extend the life of catnip, store it in the freezer. Whether you freeze it or not, always store catnip in an airtight container, so it doesn’t lose its potency.
Catnip is also safe for dogs, although all of it’s forms will make a dog sleepy. Anise is the catnip-equivalent for dogs.
Even though catnip makes kitties happy and playful or content and sleepy, there are other ways to please Miss Kitty Fantastico. EcoTreats are one of those rare treats that cats find irresistible. They are wallet-friendly and made with premium, all-natural ingredients. Plus, they are low-calorie, so we can reward kitty without ruining her dinner.
- “What is it About Catnip?” Pet Health Network
- “Crazy for Catnip,” The Humane Society of the United States
- “Helpful Facts About Catnip,” Pam Johnson-Bennett