Why Do Cats Like Catnip header

A favorite activity for cat owners is to treat their furry friends to some catnip. Watching our cats scurry around is so much fun! Cats of all ages enjoy catnip. Catnip can also attract and affect our kitties’ larger ancestors, like tigers.

But why do cats react the way they do when exposed to catnip? Read on to learn why cats love it so much.

What is Catnip?

Catnip, also known as nepeta cataria, is a member of the mint family. It grows like a wild weed and was originally native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. Eventually, it was imported to North America where it can grow up to three feet high!

You can easily grow catnip yourself, even without a green thumb. It does well in full sunlight and grows readily. Once mature, you can clip the leaves and dry them in a dark space for your own personal stash. To store it for longer, keep it in a baggy in the fridge.

Can Cats Eat Catnip?

Cats shouldn’t ingest too much catnip at one time because it can cause their tummy to get upset and give them diarrhea. A little nibbling is fine, so supervising to avoid eating too much is smart. Don’t worry though as cats are really good at self-regulating; they tend to not overdo it.

Is Catnip Bad for Cats?

Catnip is considered non-toxic. It is safe for your cat, even in large amounts. But it can cause a euphoric reaction, so it is possible for your cat to get injured when the zoomies kick in. Having a watchful eye on your cat and giving them catnip in moderation is best.

What Does Catnip Do to Cats?

Cats are often attracted to catnip because of the odor the plant gives off. Nepetalactone acts as a pheromone and binds itself to the receptors in a cat’s nose. This causes a euphoric reaction or a blissful “high” in your cat. The effects of catnip don’t last very long, usually only around 15 to 30 minutes.  Catnip Effects on Cats

Cats have various reactions to catnip. Some might fall into a deep cat nap while others might get the ultimate zoomies. They may meow, growl, prowl, drool, or roly-poly across the ground. It is also possible for catnip to cause a mild hallucinatory effect, so don’t be surprised if you see them swatting at empty air.

It is worth noting that not all cats may be affected by catnip. Kittens younger than three months and elderly cats are less likely to react to it.

Catnip Effects on Cats

Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

While no one really knows exactly why cats love catnip so much, we know it is a mood enhancer. This may explain why cats love catnip so much that they will learn to open doors to get to it! It is also possible that catnip can actually protect your cat from mosquitoes and other parasites. However, veterinarians do not recommend this as a substitute for heartworm and flea, and tick medicine.

How to Give Catnip to Your Cat

There are many different ways to give your cat catnip. You can purchase it dry or as a spray, or grow it yourself! One of the best ways to give your cat catnip is through toy rotation. Toy rotation creates an enriching environment for your cat. Sprinkle some catnip in a bag with some of your cat’s toys, and rotate your toys in and out of the bag once a week. This will refresh old toys your cat might be bored of. Dried catnip normally does a better job of refreshing your cat’s toys than spray because sprays normally have less nepetalactone in them.

You can also sprinkle some catnip on a new scratching post or bed to encourage your cat to use those areas for scratching instead of your couch.

What’s the Best Way to Preserve Catnip?

The best way to preserve your catnip is in the freezer because the potency of catnip can dissipate over time.

Catnip can be a great way to enrich your connection with your cat and keep your cat happy and active! If you are traveling and need care for your cat, you can count on a wonderful environment at Harmony Pet Resort & Spa!

Happy Cat with Catnip