If you’re a cat owner and you haven’t heard of catnip, we recommend you do a little internet search. Watching cats enjoy catnip is adorable. While not all are affected, and some more than others, many cats go crazy for it.
Why? Well, we’re still not 100% sure. What we do know is that catnip makes cats feel good. Very good. It produces an organic compound called necto-* which enters the cat’s system through their nasal passages when they sniff the source. It naturally occurs in the catnip plant but has been adapted in different forms for our pets’ enjoyment!
When they rub against whatever contains the catnip, the fragrance is released and goes straight to the cat’s brain, triggering their “happiness” receptors and making them feel euphoric. It’s not toxic and although a small number of cats may suffer from vomiting and diarrhoea if they eat a lot of it, catnip is generally seen as harmless.
Sounds great! But what do I do with it?
There are numerous ways you can introduce your cat to catnip:
- Grow the plant – Catnip can be easily grown either as a houseplant or in your garden. You can then trim off leaves for your cat to play with. Be warned that if you give your cat unlimited access to a catnip plant, the plant may get squashed!
- The dried herb – You can buy catnip and use it to stuff in toys or vessels, or you can buy fun treats for your cat that have the catnip incorporated.
- The spray – This allows you to apply catnip scent directly to your cat’s favourite toys or bedding.
- Food – Catnip-flavoured treats may be a bit of a gimmick, but cats certainly seem to enjoy them!
Cats react in different ways to catnip – some become giddy and hyperactive, whereas some become very mellow. There can also be different reactions based on how the cat accesses the catnip, for example if they eat it compared to just sniffing it. The effects usually last around five to ten minutes, but again this can differ between pets. Around 30% of cats have no reaction, and kittens will only begin to have a reaction at between three and six months of age.
Introducing your cat to catnip for the first time? We’d love to hear how it goes! Share your story with our community on Facebook and join the conversation for more ideas on how to help your kitty have fun!