If you own a cat, you’ve probably heard about catnip before. The herb is responsible for all kinds of funny reactions depending on your cat's personality and overall behavior, so it's time to understand what makes it so successful in the feline world.
First: What is catnip?
Catnip is a herb originated in Asia and Europe, and can be cultivated at home if you want to choose the most natural and sustainable option. While growing catnip yourself is a good choice. You can easily find dried versions in the market that are easy to stock. Keep in mind that cultivating it at home means you'll have a fresh and stronger version of the plant, so be mindful when offering the different types to your furry friends.
The name Catnip - or Nepeta cataria in scientific terms - is derived from the intense attraction that cats have toward them. The reason behind it is that the herb produces an organic compound called nepetalactone, which enters a cat's system through their nose. Inhaling nepetalactone sends a signal to your cat's brain and the organic reaction makes them feel different effects resulting in different reactions.
About two-thirds of cats experience the intense attraction that provokes funny reactions like running around, viciously eating the herb or even going into a deep state of relaxation. Younger and older cats don't tend to react as strongly as adult cats. Most kittens don't even react at all, it's only when they reach 3 or 6 months of age that they will most likely start feeling the effects.
The first reaction you will be able to observe is how your cat decides to consume the plant, and the most common ways are rolling around the area where you placed the catnip in an attempt to get it all over their bodies and eating it like it's one of the most delicious delicacies you've ever placed in front of them.
Once catnip finally hits their system, cats can become even more active than they already are - running all over the house, jumping around - but the effect can also calm them down. Drooling and screeching are completely normal reactions.
The experience only lasts for a short amount of time, varying between 5 to 30 minutes, and offering more catnip won't ensure you will get the same effects as cats tend to develop a temporary immune reaction that protects them from losing control of their own behavior.
Is it safe?
This temporary immune reaction to the effects of catnip can last an hour and it actually prevents any overdose risks. There is also no evidence of catnip being harmful in any way, so if your cats present any negative symptoms, take them to the vet.
How to offer it
If you are introducing your cat to catnip for the first time, make sure you only offer a small amount to see how they respond. If the reaction is positive, you are good to go. Rub it in your cat's toys and scratching posts to make every activity a little more interesting or add it to the floor and observe their reaction.
You can find a variety of toys that contain catnip or are sold with a small portion that can be used to enhance the fun. Follow the instructions and have some fun yourself while you watch your little friends going crazy.
Learn more about us
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It's safe, nutritious and you'll probably be thanked with a lot of extra cuddles.
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