What is Catnip?
In its natural form, catnip is a relatively small herbaceous plant that is very similar in appearance to mint. It grows small white flowers that are quite fragrant and usually appear from late spring into the autumn.
The reason it is used for cats is because it contains nepetalactone, a feline attractant that not only works on domestic animals but has also been found to have an effect on big cats such as tigers and leopards. Once the scent of the plant has entered the cat’s nose, it will usually be affected for around five to fifteen minutes; although some cats will not be affected at all.
What Effect Does Catnip Have?
The majority of cat owners will be extremely familiar with the impact catnip has on their pet, but it can vary from animal to animal. The most common reaction is for cats to start rolling around, rubbing themselves on the floor/furniture and generally being quite hyperactive. If they have experienced catnip through a toy, they may also play with their toy a lot until the effect wears off.
However, some cats can become incredibly hyperactive with catnip and run around manically, while others may start meowing or growling. On occasions, a cat may even become aggressive, especially if they are approached or their toy is removed.
Why Are Cats Affected By Catnip?
No one really knows why cats are affected by this plant, but it appears that it is something that is passed on genetically (explaining why some cats aren’t affected at all).
Various neurological tests have been carried out to see why cats react the way they do and it’s believed that it may cause a reaction similar to that when good pheromones are released, stimulating the brain in a unique way.
Can My Cat Eat Catnip?
When playing with a catnip toy, it’s inevitable that at some point it may break and your cat may ingest some of it. However, there is nothing to worry about and, in fact, it usually has the opposite effect.
If catnip is eaten, many cats will become tired, sleepy and mellow. And there is no need to worry, it does not have any adverse effect on them.
Why Would I Give My Pet Catnip?
In truth, there is no real reason for pet owners to give catnip to their cat, other than the fact they seem to enjoy it. And, after the initial manic phase, they do experience a more docile and relaxed period.
Catnip can be provided to your pet in its natural plant form, as a dry product or, most commonly, inside a cat toy. Many owners choose this option as it gives their cat something to play with at the same time. There is a wide variety of catnip toys available to suit all cats and owners, with most having an inner that can be replaced once the catnip fades.