Have you ever wondered why cats love catnip and why it drives them nuts? Learn what catnip actually is and why cats love it!
What is Catnip?
If you’ve ever given your cat catnip then you’ve probably noticed that it makes some cats go bonkers. Catnip has a profound impact on some cats but seems to have no effect on others; if your cat was the former then you know the extent to which it can influence behavior. Cats smelling catnip bounce off the walls and once they consume it they appear heavily sedated. But what is catnip? Is it a drug for cat or is it something else?
Catnip, or Nepata cataria, is a member of the Lamiaceae, or mint, family. This herb has a short lifespan but can grow up to 40 inches tall. The mint is native to European and Central Asian regions and has a variety of uses. The plant can be used to treat certain illnesses in humans, to repel certain insects, or to make cats act weird.
Why does it make my cat crazy?
There are two factors that lead to the radically different behaviors cats have when smelling catnip and when they’ve consumed it. When cats smell catnip they tend to be very attracted to the scent and might move quickly towards its source. The reason for this is likely that the catnip emits a particular attractant called nepetalactone that appears to mimic a pheromone by drawing the cat towards the plant.
Once consumed, nepetalactone has the opposite effect as the chemical is processed by a different system. When it is eaten the catnip calms the cat and can even cause apparent hallucinations. Some cats have been known to roll on their backs, drool, or even swat their paws as if they were hunting imaginary mice.
Why doesn’t it make my cat crazy?
There are plenty of factors that determine your cat’s susceptibility to catnip and about 1 in 3 cats have no reaction to catnip at all. There are several factors at play when determining how your cat will react to catnip with the first being genetics. Cats must have the correct autosomal gene, though the gene is dominant, it’s seen in certain breeds of cats more than others. Cats which have their genetic origins from geographical areas where catnip does not grow naturally do not respond to catnip.
Age and exposure are also factors that affect the reaction of cats to the perennial herb. Kittens that are younger than three months of age generally do not respond to catnip. Additionally, when cats are exposed to catnip it might take a few hours before the catnip will affect them again.
Is it safe for my cat?
Though consuming excessive quantities of catnip may lead to nausea or vomiting, this is rare and self-limiting. Catnip is perfectly safe for cats and can even be healthy, assisting with ingestion and can even help keep them fit from the exercise they get before consumption. Additionally, consumption is great for keeping cats calm when they are in a stressful environment.
A pinch or two of catnip should suffice to give your cat an exciting time. It can also be placed inside certain cat toys for additional fun. One piece of advice, however, is to never put catnip in your cat’s food- as it might adversely affect their eating habits.
With that being said- you can order some fresh organic catnip for your cat for a low price here at EntirelyPets. We hope you enjoyed learning about catnip and that you and your cat have a purr-fect day!