Catnip – everything you need to know

Catnip – everything you need to know

Catnip is a plant that has a mildly euphoric effect on cats, often making them revert to a kitten-like, playful state.

Some cat-owners might be concerned about giving their pet a plant that has such an effect, but there’s nothing to worry about. Argos Pet Insurance reveals everything you need to know about catnip:

What is catnip?

Nepeta Cataria, better known as catnip, is a type of herb that belongs to the mint family. It contains the feline attractant nepetalactone, which is released in oil when the plant’s leaves are crushed. The scent of the oil is what causes the reaction, but cats bite the leaves to release more oil. The effects of catnip last for around fifteen minutes.

Is it safe for my cat?

Catnip is safe as long as it is used in moderation! Too much may cause vomiting and diarrhoea so be careful. If this does happen, however, it is usually mild and transient but always be careful not to overindulge.

While catnip is usually just used as a play item, it also relieves stress in cats, causing a carefree attitude. It may be handy to play with during stressful times, such as returning from a vet trip.

It’s best not to overindulge your cat with catnip, saving it as an occasional treat. Giving it to your cat too often will eventually wear out the affect, so just one weekly playtime is recommended.

It is also safe for you and can be brewed to soothe an upset stomach.

What is the best kind of catnip?

You can purchase catnip in a variety of ways. The crushed leaves can be placed inside toys, which you can buy online or from shops. However, some cat experts warn against this as the plant’s stems can be used as toy filler, which are sharp and potentially dangerous if your pet bites the toy. Buying a refillable toy that you can fill with your own catnip is a safer option than a sealed toy.

Loose catnip can be bought from many pet shops and online stores, allowing you to give your cat loose catnip or even make your own toys, sewing a pouch for the treat.

If you want to know exactly where your catnip comes from, you can grow your own. Be careful though – you might have all the neighbourhood cats eating it!

My cat isn’t interested in catnip.

An interest in catnip is hereditary and has an effect on 50-75% of cats. It doesn’t tend to affect kittens either, with reactions usually seen in cats aged six months or older.

If your cat seems to have lost interest in a catnip toy they once wouldn’t leave alone, all of the oil from the leaves may have been released, so you may need to refill the toy with fresh catnip or replace it altogether.

Pic © Creative Commons

Content provided by Argos Pet Insurance

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38 thoughts on “Catnip – everything you need to know

    • Marc-André says:

      It contains a chemical similar to that found in silvervine, catnip and valerian which all are a cat attract. 😮

  1. Emma says:

    My cat likes it, but not as much as our neighbouring cats who all come to our house for their fix. We’re like the drug dealers of the area!

  2. Ana Mari Pérez Marín says:

    Catnip, NEPETA is drug for cats, and some can not stop: take drugs very often!

  3. chrisscatmeow says:

    I also grow catnip maybe abit too much as I do get visiting cats in my garden.One trick if trying to grow your own and the plant is very young and of course your cat can’t wait, is to cover it with the end of a large plastic bottle,take off to water.I bought cheap baby socks and dry the catnip then strip off the leaves which will just crumble anyway and I stuffed the baby socks,sewed the top,I think I made about 40 and donated them to The Cats Protection where I volunteer for either Christmas presents or to sell in the shop.We put signs up on the pens if they can’t have cat nip.x?????

  4. Kris says:

    I have catmint in the yard. One cat really likes it, one cat is moderately interested, the third one? He doesn’t really care. They all know where it is in the yard, but they much prefer the wild catnip which comes off the ranch in the Blue Mountains near our house. We dry it and months later, they go crazy over the stuff. One cat will eat it and drool and roll, one cat eats a bit of it, roll, and he calls it good, the last cat? He’ll play in it and chew on it and make a big mess of what might be left! They really like the dried stems. Raw…you have never seen cat drool like cats on wild organic nip! I often wonder if the cougar like the stuff…..

    • Marc-André says:

      The cougar would probably like it too! Also the wild catnip is probably a different type of catnip to your own. There are plenty of different strains of it.

  5. Sue McCarthy says:

    My cats love catnip too, dried in toys and my plants in the garden. My old cat used to rub himself against the plants and drool in ecstasy, the white fur on his neck was stained green!

  6. zodiacimmortal says:

    What if my cat actually EATS it? I’ve never seen a cat lick up the leaves… I have a few dif. Catnip here. a bottle of the Kong for kitties, (which has lavender in it as well) , there’s an organic one from a friend and a tube I bought in Walmart… it doesn’t matter which one I give Sully she licks it up then she does the ‘drunk rolls and wiggles’ sometimes trying to nip me if I go to pet her.

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