As a cat owner, you’ve probably seen all of the catnip products at the supermarket or pet store. You may have even bought and tried it out on your fluffy friend. Of course, trying out new things that can be fun for both you and your cat can be exciting. But, what is catnip and why do cats react the way they do?
What is catnip?
Catnip (nepeta cataria) is a member of the mint family with an active ingredient and essential oil called nepetalactone. This oil can alter the behavior of domestic and big cat species alike. It can make them very relaxed or it can turn them into a hyper Tasmanian devil. However, your cat will need to have inherited the right genes from her mother in order to feel the effects. Around 50% of cats have these genes. The trait doesn’t become apparent until the can is a bit older ー around three to six months old.
What does catnip do to my cat?
The typical reaction to catnip can include sniffing, chewing, licking, head shaking, hyperactivity, and chin, cheek, and body rubbing. Less common behaviors are, stretching, drooling, jumping, and aggression. These effects will usually last a short period of about five to ten minutes.
Can it be harmful?
Cats are very intuitive and smart, so they will not ingest more catnip than they can handle. Also, it is not possible for cats to overdose on catnip.
What’s the best way to give it to my cat?
There are a few different forms of catnip, and all of them are pretty great. It really depends on your cat’s taste. If you are concerned about making a mess, many pet shops sell toys filled with catnip. You can also grow your own and your cat can get it straight from the source. There are sprays available as well but be careful about what fabrics you spray it on as it can stain some. Catnip can also lose its potency if it’s not stored correctly for long periods of time, so put it in an airtight container and store it in your freezer for the longest life.
How much should I give to my cat?
There’s not a specific dose, just like humans, all cats react differently to different amounts. Let your cat be your guide to how much they want. You’ll want to avoid putting any directly in their food bowl since eating too much of it can cause digestive issues.