8 Fun Facts About Catnip!

As cat moms and dads, we all have something catnip-related in our homes, but how much do you really know about the herb that drives cats wild?

Here's some nip trivia to share with your cat-loving friends!

WHAT IS CATNIP?

Nepeta cataria, commonly known as catnip, cats-wort, or cat-mint, is actually a plant from the mint family. It is a short-lived perennial and grows 20-40 inches tall and grows best in full sunlight. Catnip can be grown as an ornamental plant that is known to attract cats and butterflies. The oil extracted from the catnip plant, nepetalactone, is the chemical that triggers a response in brain of a susceptible cat. It can also be used a mosquito and bug repellent (supposedly stronger and safer than DEET!)

​IS CATNIP SAFE FOR MY CAT?

Nepetalactone is released which causes your furry friends to feel euphoric. Catnip can be used in training and behavior modification. Use catnip to entice a depressed kitty to engage in much needed play time, relax a cat that has anxiety, or encourage an overweight kitty to get some exercise.

Catnip should be used as a tool for play, not given as a food or snack.

WHAT DOES CATNIP DO TO MY CAT?

The chemical nepetalactone in catnip triggers a response in the brain of susceptible cats. About 50-75% of cats are triggered by catnip. The response seems to be a kind of euphoria that lasts for about 10 minutes. Kittens and elderly cats don’t typically respond to catnip.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON RESPONSES TO CATNIP?

​Most cats react by playing more aggressively, licking, chewing, and rolling around in bliss.... Some have the opposite response and just mellow out. Cats will need a couple hours to become susceptible to the effects of catnip again once the "buzz" has worn off.

DOES IT MATTER IF ITS EATEN OR INHALED?

​Inhaling catnip is more likely to give your cat the crazies, whereas eating it will cause many cats to relax.

DO EITHER MALE OR FEMALE CATS SEEM TO PREFER CATNIP MORE?

​Male cats may prefer catnip more because its natural chemical closely resembles a chemical found in female cats' urine. YUCK!

CAN CATNIP BE USED FOR ANYTHING BESIDES PLAYTIME?

​Have you ever bought your cat a fancy new bed or scratching post, only to have them completely ignore it? Try sprinkling some catnip on it to entice kitty to check it out!

CAN HUMANS USE CATNIP TOO?

Yes! It can be taken in capsule form from your local health food store or made into a tea to relieve human ailments such as headaches, nausea, and toothaches. A hot cup of catnip tea each night can even relieve insomnia! It can also be used as an herb for cooking or applied topically on cuts.

But don't worry, you won't find yourself rolling around on the floor alongside your cats!

Although that might be fun...