When you think of Catnip the first thing that comes to mind is a cat acting crazy, rolling around covered in it. But it wasn’t originally used just for cats. It was brought to North America for human medicinal purposes. If your doctor nowadays offered you a cup of catnip tea for your migraine or indigestion you might not go back to that doctor but that just leaves more catnip for the cats! So why do cats get so excited when you pull out that tub of catnip or that new catnip toy out of the closet?
Cats are very smell oriented which is one of the reasons cat food smells so gross to us but so delicious to them. The more smells the better. The scent of the catnip is what gets cats so excited. You may see your cat chewing or licking the catnip but it is the sniffing of it, not the ingesting, that affects them in this manner. Ingestion of catnip may cause them some sedation which may be why a good nap usually follows a catnip session. Cats also reach a time limit in which the catnip affects them, at this point their senses no longer respond to the stimulus and they usually loose interest. Don’t worry, in a few hours they will have a response again but catnip should be used as an occasional treat.
Cats may have different responses to catnip. These can include rubbing, rolling, meowing and getting the zoomies. Zoomies of course being that crazy frantic run about the house that usually occurs just when you’re about to fall asleep. Some cats however may become a little more aggressive while under the influence of catnip so always watch your cats’ behaviour the first time they are introduced to it. If your cat does become aggressive with it you might not want to give it catnip or at least give the cat space while it enjoys the catnip in its own way. If you have more than one cat in the household and one of them reacts aggressively while sniffing catnip it is best to give them catnip in separate areas in the household to prevent fighting.
Have you given your cat catnip and they just stare at you confused as to why you’re sprinkling a weird dust all around them? There is a genetic component to whether or not catnip will affect a cat. As it is a dominant trait the majority of cats will go crazy for the nip. Young kittens will not respond to catnip until they become a bit older but they probably will still love the toys for the play value. If you find your cat is in the minority that does not respond to catnip you can always try honeysuckle. Honeysuckle can be found in toys, sprays and dried pieces of the wood. Of my 3 cats 1 is on team Honeysuckle and he goes just as crazy for it as the other two do for catnip.
If you want to bring all the cats to your yard, just grow some cat nip! We recently had a wonderful client of ours bring in some of their home grown catnip for us. Carrots our clinic cat happily sampled it giving it a good sniff over. The catnip plant has a nice scent and pretty little pinky purple flowers which will look lovely in any garden. Catnip loves sunlight and can be grown indoors and outdoors. Catnip has a slight minty scent as it is part of the mint family. You might need to purchase some fencing if your catnip brings too many cats to the yard! If you don’t have a green thumb don’t worry there are many options at your local pet store. If you have old cat toys laying around the house that your cat is no longer interested in, as catnip does lose potency after time, buy some catnip spray to revitalize them. A couple little sprays and your cat will be playing with them like they’re new again. Keeping your cats active and playing is not only great for their boredom but can also help keep them trim.
If you would like to know exactly how catnip affects your cat from a more technical stand please read this article from Scientific America
This blog was written with the help of information gathered from VeterinaryPartner.com and Catnip use has been approved by Carrots, he’s crazy for it!