The Ins And Outs of Catnip

Written By: Briseis Schreibman
Hey CUP fam, today we’ll be demystifying Catnip. Also known as Catmint, Cats’ plant, or even “Kitty Crack,” this plant is well known for its effect on our feline friends. But did you know that humans also used to use this plant? For centuries, humans utilized Catnip to make teas, herbal cigarettes, and even cooking seasoning. Nowadays, this fascinating plant is used almost exclusively for cats. 
What exactly does Catnip do? Catnip is one of the approximate 250 species in the mint family and has a leafy green appearance. Nepetalactone, the essential oil in Catnip, is a mild hallucinogenic that is not addictive and completely feline-friendly. However, sensitivity to Catnip is hereditary and only present in cats over six months of age. The Humane Society has a great description of what your cat experiences while affected by Catnip,
“The most intense catnip experience starts with the nose—one whiff of the stuff and your cat promptly goes nuts. Researchers suspect that catnip targets feline “happy” receptors in the brain. When eaten, however, Catnip tends to have the opposite effect, and your cat mellows out. Most cats react to Catnip by rolling, flipping, rubbing, and eventually zoning out. They may meow or growl at the same time. Other cats become hyperactive or downright aggressive, especially if you approach them. Usually, these sessions last about 10 minutes, after which your cat loses interest. It may take as long as two hours for him to “reset” and become susceptible to Catnip again. Be mindful of overindulgence though—cats are unlikely to overdose on Catnip, but they can get sick if they eat too much. Trust your kitty to know when they’ve had enough.” (The Humane Society)
Now that you have a better understanding of how Catnip affects your kitty, you may be wondering how best to incorporate the plant into your pet’s life? First up, consider what form you want to purchase the plant in. Catnip can be purchased as a spray of essential oils and distilled water, an herb-like mixture of dried leaves and flowers, pellets of dried leaves and flower buds, and as catnip-filled cat toys or dental chews. Whatever your preferred form, always make sure the product is fresh and stored in an airtight container in the freezer to extend shelf life. You can also choose to grow your own Catnip as it is a simple herb that can flourish indoors and outdoors.

Finally, it’s time to determine the best use. Here is a list of some of the most popular suggested uses:

  • Rub Catnip into your cat’s scratching post to encourage use
  • Place Catnip in toys to promote active play and exercise
  • Use Catnip in a carrier or crate to reduce anxiety during car trips
  • Sprinkle Catnip in a new environment to encourage exploration for shy cats

If you find this post helpful and decide to introduce Catnip to your kitty, make sure to snap some photos during the fun and share them with us on Instagram!

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