So, what exactly is catnip?
As a cat owner, you’ve probably noticed the packages of catnip in the kitty section of the store. Or maybe you’ve noticed catnip treats when picking up your cat some goodies. Even though catnip is a common ingredient, most of us have never put much thought into what catnip actually is and how it benefits our feline friends.
Catnip, also known as “catmint,” is a perennial herb with small purple flowers that can grow up to three feet high. Catmint can be found growing wild in North America and Europe. It has been used for hundreds of years as a natural remedy for people experiencing stress, coughs, sleep improver, and tension. It also has natural properties that make it wonderful for our furry friends, too.
Cats, both big and small, including tigers and lions go crazy for the aroma and taste of catnip. This is because this medicinal herb contains an oil called “nepetalactone” in its stem and leaves. This oil has a scent that ignites your cat’s neurons and draws them to the catnip plant. Nepetalactone imitates a pheromone that cats react to with excitement, playfulness, and arousal. This is one, among the many reasons, cat owners give their kitties catnip.
A cat’s sensitivity to catnip will only develop after that ages of 3 and 6 months. And if your kitty is one of the fifty-percent of cats that has a sensitivity this stimulant, and it gets a chance to smell catnip, you can expect your cat to act odd and silly.
If your cat sniffs catnip, you can anticipate:
- Wriggling around on the floor
- Rubbing its head against walls, doors, and the legs of furniture
- Shaking its head
- Meowing and yowling
- Rolling around
- Playfulness in the form of aggression
What Benefits Does Catnip Have for Your Cat?
Many people describe catnip’s effect on cats as similar that of cannabis on humans. But the playfulness and goofiness that catnip induces aren’t the only reasons you’ll want to pick up some catnip next time you’re at the store. Eating and smelling catnip can have a wide range of positive health effects for your feline friend.
If you’re looking to purchase catnip, you can find it in pet stores, online, in larger retailers, and health store. There are many benefits humans can gain from catnip, too, but never eat catnip made for cats.
You can also buy a live catnip plant, but make sure you harvest the plant yourself—don’t let your kitty free graze on the live plant. You want to be able to keep track of how much catnip your kitty is eating while keeping the plant alive. You can also find catnip toys such as balls and powdered catnip you can sprinkle on one of kitty’s existing toys.
When shopping for catnip, try to get USDA certified organic catnip. This will help ensure the catnip hasn’t been exposed to insecticides or pesticides. You will also want to keep the catnip fresh by storing it in an airtight container, like a zip-baggie, and keeping it in a dry place.
When you’re ready for your cat to enjoy its catnip, crush it between your finger to help release the oil. And remember, you don’t need to give it an excessive amount, a little bit goes a long way.
Many cat lovers use catnip to help train their cats. Because cats are naturally attracted to the scent of catnip, you can use it to sedate your cat for ten minutes or so to clip your kitty’s claws. Catnip is also helpful by keeping your cat calm while its getting groomed or bathed. You can also encourage your cat to use it scratching post or litter box by sprinkling a little catnip on them.
Whether you’re going through a move or your cat is a bit stressed out for other reasons, catnip is a great sedative to help calm your feline friend down. Cats love structure and routine and minor changes can disrupt your cat’s feeling of security. And more drastic changes, like the birth of a child, can cause your cat to experience unnecessary anxiety.
Signs your cat may be experiencing stress:
- Loss of fur
- Minor skin infections
- Spraying or marking
- A new lack of hygiene and grooming
Catnip can help keep your kitty relaxed when you have houseguests or any major changes that may upset your cat’s routine.
If you have an overweight cat that has lost interest in playing or exercising, catnip can reignite your cats’ energy. Try sprinkling catnip on a stuffed mouse or toy bird and watch your chubby cat transform into a playful kitten, again. You cat will roll over, pounce, and purr for a solid ten minutes.
Additionally, your cat can get a wide range of other benefits by eating catnip. Many cats naturally nibble a little on the herb which can help them feel relaxed and peaceful. Just add a pinch to your cat’s regular food or put a little pile near her food dish. When your cat eats catnip, it will experience a tranquil effect. Eating catnip will let your cat sleep more restfully.
Catnip’s aroma has a physical and psychological effect on your cat’s health. To get the most out of the benefits of catnip, you can make a catnip tea bath to help your kitty destress. A catnip bath is like a bubble bath for humans, the fragrance has a comforting effect and can help soothe any skin irritations your cat may have.
It’s easy to make a catnip bath, dissolve about a tablespoon of catnip in a bowl or cup of boiling water. Then fill your tub with lukewarm water and add the concentrated catnip water to it. Let kitty find its way to the bath then slowly lower it into the water. The best part of a catnip bath is that the scent will stay on your cat’s coat, keeping it calmer, longer.
Is Catnip safe and What Precautions Should You Consider When Giving your Cat Catnip?
Is Catnip Safe?
Catnip is nontoxic and safe for most cats and humans. Cats genuinely enjoy how they feel when they get catnip. The effects of catnip will last between 5 and 15 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about any long-term effects.
Even though catnip rarely has physical side effects, if your cat eats too much catnip, it may cause digestive issues like diarrhea and vomiting.
Some kitties get a little out-of-hand and become a bit aggressive. Most of this behavior is playful, but some cats have trouble restraining rougher play. Catnip effects some cat differently, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your kitty to see how catnip affects your cat.
Precautions to Consider When Giving your Cat Catnip
Like other treats and herbal remedies, you should always monitor how much catnip your cat is ingesting. And keep in mind your cat may eat the catnip you put out just for sniffing. You will always want to monitor your cat to see how she reacts, especially the first time your kitty gets catnip. Watch for changes in your cat’s mood, body language, behavior, and demeanor.
Remember, moderation is key to utilizing the benefits of catnip. Only give your cat a small amount of catnip and only give it to your kitty every few weeks. If this happens, don’t give your cat any more catnip until the side effects have cleared up on their own.
Catnip can do wonders for your feline friend. From destressing to relieving skin irritation to boosting your cat’s energy-level, catnip is a must-have for all cat owner.