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 nepetalactone (an oil that evaporates in the air), which is found in the plants leaves, stems, and seeds.
How catnip affects cats depends on how they “get it” - when cats eat catnip, it tends to make them chill, not hyper. However, smelling catnip, as when they play with a catnip toy, makes cats spaztastic!
Catnip is truly a fantastic way to get your catloaf to exercise more! What else can it be used for? Here’s some more info!
What can catnip be used for?
Training (well..more like "persuading" 😹): Cats respond better to positive reinforcement. If there’s something they’re not supposed to be doing, you should offer them a “yes” option 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 it with catnip! Do they avoid the carrier at all costs when it’s time for a vet visit? A catnip blend infused with Valerian root can do the trick, like this one!
Exercise/ Playtime: If you have a sedentary kitty, you can use catnip to help them get exercise! Just a little sprinkle on their favorite toy might be enough to jumpstart some playtime! A good quality catnip blend like this one would do the trick! Toys made with catnip inside are also super fun, like this sushi cat toy set.
Calming: If your cat experiences anxiety, catnip can be a great way to help relax them. Maybe you just brought home a new pet, you are introducing them to a new environment, or you need to take them for a vet visit. Events like these are likely to cause some amount of stress for your kitty. This is another great opportunity to use a Valerian root + Catnip blend like this one!
As a treat: Who says catnip can’t just be used for fun too?
Do all cats like catnip?
Not all cats are able to experience the effects of catnip. That is why some catnip blends come with a really cool powder called Silvervine. Some say it is even more popular with cats than catnip. It is a weird fruit from Asia that is dried and ground up into a powder that cats LOVE. This blend is great for cats that aren’t usually too interested in catnip! You can grab a little bag here.
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 or older.
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. The company we work with sources their catnip from the best organic farmers in the US!
Are there any bad side effects to catnip?
Not really. Cats can’t “overdose” on catnip. They will just seem a bit sleepy but act completely fine after a good nap. But if they ingest too much of it, their tummies may hurt. So it’s always a good idea to sprinkle just a little bit for them, as too much isn’t necessary anyways. A 1oz bag should last quite a while.
The bottom line...
Catnip is a great tool for cat lovers to enhance their beloved feline’s lives either by promoting play/activity, encouraging them to use a comfy new bed or cat condo, or helping them relax. Check out our catnip bags and catnip infused toys here!