We’ve all seen videos of cats going bonkers over a little plant called catnip. Rolling around, rubbing up against toys, and sprinting around the room may have been behaviors you have witnessed from kitties who have just come in contact with it. But what exactly is catnip and why does it cause cats to behave this way? Does it affect cats differently? What are the different ways that catnip can be used?
What is catnip?The catnip plant is a member of the mint family, and is native to Europe and Asia. It contains the volatile oil (an oil that evaporates in the air) nepetalactone, which is found in the plants leaves, stems, and seeds.
How does it affect cats? Cats can experience the effects of catnip in two different ways; inhalation and ingestion. When a cat smells catnip, inhaling the evaporated nepetalactone, it acts as a stimulant. Your kitty may seem extra alert and playful, running, rolling around, vocalizing, salivating, or being generally hyperactive. When catnip is eaten, it acts as a mild sedative and has a calming effect on kitties. These effects only last between 5-30 minutes, and after that your kitty will be immune to catnip for approximately 2 hours immediately after it is used. Cats may also grow immune if it is given to them too frequently.
Cool fact: Not all cats are able to experience the effects of catnip. Results of studies have varied, but it is estimated that between 50-75 percent of cats are affected by the active ingredient in catnip. This is believed to be an inherited trait. If you have a kitten though, you won’t know if they are affected by catnip right away. Young kitties aren’t able to feel the effects of catnip until they are about 6 months old.
Types of catnip products:
- Dried loose leaves: This can be sprinkled on scratching posts, toys etc.
- Sprays: These typically consist of catnip oil diluted with water. This can be sprayed on beds, toys, scratching posts, or litter boxes to make them more enticing for your kitty. They’re great because they’re not messy and it’s easier to use to refresh toys, scratching posts, etc. You can buy a great quality catnip spray HERE.
- Dental chews: These keep your kitty’s teeth and gums clean and healthy and some contain catnip powder!
- Scratch pads and toys: Some come with catnip already in it!
- Live grasses: You can grow your own catnip! Just pick off fresh leaves, remove the stems, and dry them upside down!
- Treats: There are lots of kitty snacks that contain catnip powder, or are catnip flavored!
- Teas: Humans can enjoy the benefits of catnip as well! Catnip teas are actually very common. Similar to chamomile, it is said to have a calming effect and can improve symptoms of colds and other minor illnesses.
Now that we know why cats like catnip and how you can get it, you can use it in your favor! What can catnip be used for?
Training: Cats respond better to training through positive reinforcement. If there’s something they’re not supposed to be doing, you should offer them a “yes” instead. Using catnip is a great way to encourage that “yes”. For example, spraying a little catnip on their scratching post might help keep their claws off the furniture. Is your cat not interested in the new toy or bed you brought home for them? Sprinkle or spray it with catnip! Do they avoid the carrier at all costs when it’s time for a vet visit? Try a catnip spray like ours, which is also infused with CBD for an extra comforting and calming effect.
Exercise: If you have a sedentary kitty, you can use catnip to help them get exercise! Just a little spray or sprinkle on their favorite toy might be enough to jumpstart some playtime!
Calming: If your cat experiences anxiety, catnip can be a great way to help relieve stress. Maybe you just brought home a new pet, or you are introducing them to a new environment. Changes like these are likely to cause some amount of stress for your kitty. Using a catnip spray, ideally infused with CBD like our Holistapet spray, can help relieve some of this stress.
As a treat: Who says catnip can’t just be used for fun too?
Choosing the best catnip:
When choosing dried catnip, it is best to look for all natural and organic products. This way you can make sure that it is free of insecticides, pesticides, or any other chemical that could be harmful to your kitty. Reading the ingredients will make sure that you are purchasing 100 percent pure catnip.
To much of a good thing...
While catnip is completely safe, and your kitty can’t accidentally “overdose,” eating too much at once can cause your kitty to get an upset stomach. That is why sprays provide a better way to regulate dosage. If you are introducing catnip to your kitty for the first time, we recommend starting off with just a little to see how they react, especially if they have aggressive tendencies. If you are a multi-cat household, try introducing it to one cat at a time to see how they each react before giving it to them all at once.Ready to try some of these tips and tricks? Try this catnip spray sold in our online shop! This spray is infused with CBD oil, providing a fun yet calming sensation for your cat. You can learn more about the benefits of CBD for cats in our blog post about it here!