Crazy for Catnip!

By: Talin Seta Shahinian

You’ve probably seen videos or heard of cats acting all crazy after enjoying a little catnip. What is it about this herb that makes cats love it so much? Catnip is a safe, easy way to let your feline friend enjoy their day a little more.

What Is Catnip?

Catnip is a natural substance that can cause cats to have a euphoric sensation. Nepeta cataria, known as catnip, is a herb related to the mint plant, and although not native to the United States, it now grows wild. Catnip has a stem with heart-shaped leaves and small lavender, white, pink, or blue blossoms, and volatile oil that causes cats to lose their minds.

If you want to have a supply of catnip, it’s easy to grow and harvest. Then, you simply need to cut and dry out the leaves by hanging them up in a dark and dry area. Once dried, you can store them in a baggie in your fridge. Your cat will love you forever.

What Does Catnip Do to my Cat?

The chemical in catnip activates the opioid system in your cat. Cats have a scent organ on the roof of their mouth called the vomeronasal gland that carries smells to the brain. Here happy sensors are triggered when a cat smells the catnip. Your cat will begin to act goofy, roll around, bat in the air, run around, meow, drool, rub on things, and just be playful. Some cats may become more aggressive.

If your cat consumes the catnip, it may experience the reverse effects. It could cause your cat to mellow out. If you have a generally hyperactive cat, maybe ingesting some catnip could calm her down. If you have a cat that suffers from anxiety or separation issues, your vet may recommend the use of catnip. Catnip will help with reducing your cat’s anxiety, making it a happier camper. Catnip has also been known to aid in relieving pain.

How Long Does the Effect Last?

Once your cat has inhaled the smell or indulged in the taste of catnip, it will begin to become more playful, affectionate, or even aggressive. This increase in behavior lasts for about 10 minutes. The euphoria that the cat experiences will slowly wear off, and during this time, your cat may go off and rest. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours for your cat’s body to reset. After this time, your cat can respond to catnip again.

Catnip is a natural substance and safe for your cat to inhale or ingest. Cats generally do not over-indulge themselves and just naturally know their limit. However, if they have a little too much catnip, they may vomit, have diarrhea, experience dizziness, or have trouble walking. It’s improbable for your cat to experience anything more than this from catnip. Also, it’s important to note that not all cats react to catnip, as only about 70-80% experience a reaction. Cats should be at least six months of age before you try catnip with them.

What Are the Types of Catnip?

The most potent form of catnip is fresh from the garden. You can also dry the catnip; just be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Catnip also comes as a spray or even as bubbles. The spray or bubbles can be used for cats that get an upset stomach when they ingest catnip, allowing them to experience the euphoria without eating any catnip. You can also buy cat toys with dried catnip stuffed in them.

If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Find information for scheduling on our website. You can also look on our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!


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