Catnip & Cats: Why do cats love Catnip? What does it do to my cat?


Jade Poole from I Write Words

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The truth about catnip and cats: The ‘happy’ plant for our feline members of the family

Catnip is a pretty impressive plant. It can have remarkable effects on cats. But did you know that catnip only produces a euphoric state in 2 out of 3 cats?

Interesting facts on catnip

  1. Catnip is a plant, to be more specific, it’s a herb and is actually related to mint
  2. Catnip is safe, has no harmful side-effects and is non-addictive
  3. Catnip is grown in Africa, Europe and some western areas of Asia - it grows in semi-arid regions of the world
  4. Catnip was first used to treat medical conditions such as hives, colds, headaches, nervousness and fevers

How do I know if my cat will react to catnip?

We already know that only 2 out of 3 cats are affected by this happy herb. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Young kittens are not interested in catnip.
  2. Roughly ⅓ of cats do not respond to catnip. The only way to tell if your cat is affected by it is to give her or him some and watch for signs of energy and euphoria. Some vets suggest that only 50% of cats react to catnip.
  3. Genetics play a role in whether a cat reacts to catnip.
  4. If your cat does not respond to the herb by the time he or she is around 6 months old, then chances are they won’t ever get a kick out of it.
  5. Cats of all sizes love catnip. From tabbies to even the bigger, wilder breeds like tigers.

Can I take catnip as a human?

Sure! Just be warned that catnip has a calming rather than a stimulating one.

If your cat is not interested in the bag of catnip you bought him, then you can put the kettle on and make yourself a cup of catnip tea!

How does catnip work in my cat?

Your cat might inhale, roll in, ingest, chew on or cover her face in it.

The effects of this awesome herb will only last about 15 minutes.

The chemical that causes the reaction to catnip is known as nepetalactone, which is found in the stems and leaves of the plant.

Nepetalactone only acts as a stimulant when your cat sniffs the catnip, which produces a ‘high’ and euphoric effect.

When your cat eats the catnip, it will act as a sedative. But when smelling it, it causes him to go a little crazy.

Some vets believe that catnip mimics the feline pheromones and triggers these receptors in their brain.

If your cat is frequently exposed to catnip, then he or she may become desensitized to it.

How often should I give my cat catnip?

You can give your cat some of this happy herb about once a week as a treat.

What are the effects of catnip on my cat?

Your cat might roll in it, become very vocal, drool, become sluggish or even quite euphoric, excited and seem as though they are on cloud 9.

What are the beneficial uses of catnip?

Although catnip is a great euphoric and happy treat for your cat, there are also some fantastically fun benefits linked to the herb.

These include:


By rubbing catnip on toys or buying catnip toys, this can entice cats to want to play and get in some exercise. Which is especially great for the larger and lazier cats.

Remember not to leave catnip toys out all the time as your cat might not react after frequent playing with the toy.

You can buy some catnip spray from your local pet store which is great to spray on toys and scratching polls.

A confident cat

A little bit of catnip can help shy cats to feel confident enough to interact and play with other cats.

The trick is to take it slowly with shy cats. From time to time, just drag a catnip toy on a string near her usual hiding place, in time, her curiosity will win and she will play, pounce and have fun!

After a trip to the V-E-T

Trips to the vet can be particularly stressful for cats, which is where catnip can come in handy. Once you get home, give your anxious cat a catnip toy or some catnip to eat or smell for them to feel happy and more relaxed.

Pro tip - make sure you have pet insurance that covers you for vet visits and even pays you before you see the vet!

Older cats can also do well on a little catnip as this can bring back some of their energy and excitement.

Yours in paws,


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