What does catnip do to cats?

  • Date: April 19, 2021
  • Time to read: 4 min.

Catnip is a popular herb that is known to have a stimulating and calming effect on cats when ingested or smelled. When cats come in contact with catnip, they may suddenly become very excited and start rolling around, running around, and even purring. This reaction is caused by the active compound in catnip, nepetalactone, which binds to the olfactory receptors in cats’ noses and triggers a response in their brains. Although the effects of catnip are usually temporary, cats may experience enhanced playfulness and reduced anxiety, which can provide a range of benefits to both cats and their owners.

What is Catnip?

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa and is now found in many parts of the world. It can grow up to three feet tall and has a distinctive odor that is attractive to cats.

The primary active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone, a volatile oil that cats find irresistible. It is released when the leaves of the plant are crushed or bruised, and it can be used as a stimulant or mild sedative for cats.

How Does Catnip Affect Cats?

When cats detect the nepetalactone in catnip, they experience a mild euphoria. It can cause cats to become more active, vocalize more, and rub their face and body against the catnip. They may even roll around in it and kick their hind legs.

The effects of catnip can last for up to 10 minutes, after which the cat will become uninterested in the catnip and its effects will wear off. Cats can become tolerant to the effects of catnip, so it is important to limit their exposure to it.

What Are the Benefits of Catnip?

Catnip can be used to provide cats with a safe and natural way to relieve stress and boredom. It can also be used to keep cats entertained and active. It is a great way to provide cats with mental stimulation and can help to reduce destructive behaviors.

Catnip can also be used to encourage cats to use scratching posts or beds. Sprinkling a bit of catnip on these items can make them more attractive to cats and encourage them to use them instead of furniture or other household items.

Are There Any Risks?

Catnip is generally considered to be safe for cats, but it can cause excessive vocalization, restlessness, and hyperactivity. If your cat seems to be overly sensitive to catnip, it is best to limit their exposure to it.

It is also important to note that catnip is not safe for cats under eight weeks old, as their bodies are not yet capable of producing the necessary hormones to react to it.

How Can I Give My Cat Catnip?

There are a variety of ways to give cats catnip. It can be purchased in dried form and sprinkled on scratching posts or beds, or it can be made into a tea and sprayed onto toys or furniture. It can also be purchased in fresh form and given to cats to eat or play with.

Conclusion

Catnip can be a great way to provide cats with mental stimulation and relieve stress and boredom. It can also be used to encourage cats to use scratching posts and beds. However, it is important to limit cats’ exposure to catnip and not give it to cats under eight weeks old. There are a variety of ways to give cats catnip, such as sprinkling it on scratching posts or spraying it onto toys and furniture.

## Common Myths about Catnip and its Effects on Cats

1. Myth: Catnip makes cats aggressive.

Fact: Catnip actually has a calming effect on cats and has no known side effects of aggression.

2. Myth: Catnip is a drug for cats.

Fact: Catnip is a herb from the mint family and is not considered a drug. It contains a compound called nepetalactone that can act as a stimulant in some cats, but the effects are short-lived and non-addictive.

3. Myth: All cats are affected by catnip.

Fact: Not all cats are affected by catnip. About two-thirds of cats are sensitive to the catnip plant, while the other third do not respond to it at all.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does catnip do to cats?

Catnip is a plant that produces an aromatic oil that cats find irresistible. When cats smell this oil, they experience a brief burst of euphoria. They may become more active, vocalize, and even rub against the catnip plant.

Is catnip safe for cats?

Yes, catnip is generally considered safe for cats. While some cats may be more sensitive to its effects, it is not harmful or addictive. It’s also important to note that catnip is not a drug and cats cannot overdose on it.

Conclusion

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Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb that belongs to the mint family. It is native to Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa and is now found in many parts of the world. It releases a volatile oil, nepetalactone, when the leaves are crushed or bruised, which cats find irresistible and can cause them to become more active and vocalize. The effects of catnip last for up to 10 minutes and cats can become tolerant to it, so it should be limited. Catnip can be used to provide cats with a safe and natural way to relieve stress and boredom, as well as to encourage them to use scratching posts or beds. It is not safe for cats under eight weeks old, however, and can cause excessive vocalization and hyperactivity. Catnip can be given to cats in dried form, as a tea, or in fresh form.

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