Why do cats like catnip so much?

If you browse any pet supply or specialty store, you'll probably discover a variety of catnip toys. Catnip can rekindle your cat's kitten-like behavior or perhaps put them to sleep. But what exactly is catnip, and why do certain cats respond to it so violently?

What is catnip?

Cat with catnip plant

Catnip's scientific name is Nepeta cataria. Catnip is similar to peppermint and spearmint because it is a member of the mint family and is classified as an herb. Catnip is currently grown all throughout the world, despite its Asian and European origins. Many felines find this plant to be almost seductive, no matter if it is in their own backyard or growing wild beside rural roads.

Although fresh catnip can be grown at home and given to pets, commercial catnip is available in dried and crushed forms. Because freshly cut catnip is more efficient than dried catnip, you need less of it to produce the same effect.

Why is catnip so addictive to cats?


Because of the aroma that nepetalactone emits, cats are frequently drawn to catnip. Nepetalactone is thought to bind to receptors in a cat's nose or nasal passages, acting as a pheromone.

Catnip will cause noticeable reactions in most cats, but not all. While other cats may become quiet and comfortable, certain cats may become extremely playful, anxious, and excited. Catnip's effects can persist for ten to thirty minutes. Your cat might not respond to catnip for a few hours after the effects wear off. There is no research to determine if catnip affects felines on neurochemical levels in the exact same way that mind-altering substances might affect people. However, some people refer to a cat's reaction as a "catnip high."

Although catnip cat toys are common, not all cats respond to catnip. In actuality, catnip has no effect on 50% of cats.

Actually, your cat's response to catnip depends on their genetics. Your cat's response to it can be determined by a gene, and this gene is inherited. If catnip doesn't make your cat react, they might react to other plants, like silver vine.

The Actinidiaceae plant family includes the silver vine, sometimes referred to as matatabi, which grows in the mountains of China and Japan. Silver vine includes nepelactone as well as actinidine, an aromatic molecule; thus, cats who respond to catnip are also susceptible to it. Most cats who are unresponsive to nepetalactone will respond to actinidine because it acts as a cat attractant. Silver vine is available as chew sticks, which are basically cuttings from the plant, as well as in powder form.

How should catnip be given to a cat?

Catnip plant

To encourage the feline buddy to engage in more vigorous play, catnip can be applied to a cat toy. There are now catnip toys on the market with a pouch inside where you can put fresh catnip before starting a play session. A smart technique to assist your overweight cat in losing weight is to use catnip to increase their level of activity.

Your cat may be drawn to catnip around a scratching post and may choose to do her scratching there rather than on your furnishings. Treats for your energetic cat that have a catnip flavor are excellent incentives or training tools.

If catnip provides a relaxing impact on your furry buddy, you may apply it as a mild sedative to quiet your cat before car rides or when he or she meets a new member of the family. Before the perhaps stressful occasion, just sprinkle a little catnip in her carrier and place it in her preferred napping location.

Giving your cat catnip for the very first time should only include a modest quantity to gauge her reaction. Keep an eye out for any negative responses and determine the dosage you provide based on how strongly she responds.

Safety Advice


For cats, catnip is incredibly safe. It isn't considered poisonous, even if the cat consumes a lot of it. Of course, this does not imply that catnip toys are without risk. Depending on how your cat reacts, they can tear the stuffing out of their dried catnip toys in an effort to eat the dried catnip within. Your cat may develop an intestinal foreign body or obstruction that may need to be surgically removed if they consume any filling or fabric from their catnip toy. Cats that respond enthusiastically to catnip could also be more inclined to unintentionally nip you when playing. Although they are not intended to hurt, these actions have the potential to do more harm than a play swat or a love bite. When providing catnip to your cat, exercise caution if they have a tendency to get unduly thrilled by it. Some cats can act in odd ways when given catnip. But generally speaking, it's a secure addition to any cat's toy collection.

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