Catnip It Up!
While getting your cat loaded sounds like irresponsible pet parenting, catnip is completely safe for your purr baby and has several benefits. Catnip can be used to encourage lazy felines to exercise, coaxing hyper cats to sleep, or to attract cats to their designated scratching post and NOT the living room couch. Read more for catnip facts, benefits, and tips!
How It Works
Catnip is a member of the mint family. Featuring downy, heart-shaped leaves and purple-spotted white flowers, catnip has a pungent smell that cats love. The chemical compound in the plant that attracts and affects cats is called nepetalactone. It’s believed to mimic feline “happy” pheromones and mimics these receptors.
Catnip provides a calming sedative effect on cats when eaten. When smelled, catnip acts as a stimulant. Most cats respond by licking, drooling, rubbing their head and body on surfaces, rolling around on the floor and meowing. Depending on the cat, these effects can last between 5-10 minutes.
While most cats experience pleasant relaxation or euphoria when eating/smelling catnip, some cats become aggressive. If you have more than one cat, you should let each cat try it alone to see how they react.
Response to the plant is hereditary so only about one third of cats react strongly while another third won’t respond at all. Kittens are less affected and generally don’t respond until they are at least a few months old.
The quality of your catnip will impact how your cat responds. Low-quality catnip usually consists more of stems and seeds than leaves. This type of nip does not have enough nepetalactone to adequately stimulate your cat. If your cat likes to munch on the leaves, make sure your catnip is organic and pesticide-free.
Freshness is a big deal as well. Catnip loses potency as it ages so only buy what you can use in a short amount of time. Keep your ‘nip’ fresh by storing it in an airtight container and place it in a dark space as the plant loses strength when exposed to light. You can revive old catnip toys by placing them in a container of fresh catnip or spraying them with natural catnip oil.
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