Catnip: What is Catnip?

What is catnip? What effects does it have on cats? How long does the effect of Catnip last in cats? How can I give my cat catnip? Where can you buy the Catnip? What is catnip?

Catnip is a perennial herb in the Labiatae mint family . It has a square, hairy stem with typically heart-shaped green / gray leaves that have serrated edges.

There are approximately 250 species of flowering plants in the Labiatae family , among which we find the Catnip ( Nepeta cataria ) . This is the variety that most cats enjoy.

Catnip produces euphoria in many cats when exposed to it . The active ingredient that causes this euphoria in cats is an essential oil, nepetalactone, which can be found in the leaves and stems of the plant.


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When cats smell or chew Catnip, it is traced to a special organ at the back of the roof of the mouth, the vomeronasal gland. From there, nepetalactone affects the brain, resulting in stimulation.


Mechanism of action of catnip

The response to Catnip is mediated through the olfactory system:

When nepetalactone enters the cat’s nasal passages, it binds to olfactory sensory neurons found in the olfactory epithelium (specialized tissue located on the roof of the nasal cavity, at the back of the nose), which is involved in the sense of smell. A layer of mucus covers the olfactory epithelium that traps the odor molecules.

Olfactory sensory neurons send signals through the olfactory tract to the olfactory bulb which is located in the front of the brain and is responsible for processing odors.

The olfactory bulb sends signals to various regions of the brain, including the amygdala (responsible for emotions) and the hypothalamus (responsible for behavioral responses).

What are the effects of catnip?

In most cats, arousal is induced by exposure to catnip . Your cat can act stimulated, running and attacking things. In many cases, the cat’s eyes will dilate.

Your cat may react differently, of course, but many cats become more expressive and playful . A small number of cats can become aggressive when exposed to catnip, so give your cat some space if this is your first time trying.


Why use catnip?

You can use Catnip spray on toys that your cat may be ignoring to revitalize them and get your cat to play with them again.

If you need to get your cat more interested in a scratching post, catnip can help.

If your cat has been through a stressful time, a session with catnip can help him vent and relax.

How long does the effect of Catnip last?

The response to catnip lasts for approximately 10 minutes , after which the cat temporarily becomes immune to the effects of catnip for approximately 30 minutes.

Is catnip addictive for cats? Is it safe?

Catnip is not addictive to cats , and apart from the cat occasionally becoming aggressive when exposed to it, no negative effects have been recorded.

One thing to consider is making sure the catnip you use is organic because otherwise it may contain pesticides that could be harmful to your cat.

Can I often give my cat catnip?

Cats can become insensitive to the effects of catnip if they are exposed to it for a long time . You should put catnip toys away when your cat is done playing with them, and give catnip once a week or so.


Does Catnip affect all cats?

Catnip does not affect all kittens. Kittens under the age of six months generally do not respond to catnip. About 1/3 of adult cats also do not show any change in behavior when given catnip.

How to give catnip to a cat:

There are several ways to give catnip to your cat.

  • You can grow it in a potand keep it near a window or in the area where your cat lives. They can take a bite as they see fit.
  • You can dry it and sprinkle a little on the groundfor them, add a few pinches to a paper bag and toss it into a ball or put a few pinches in a sock.
  • You can buy catnip toys. Most pet stores sell catnip-filled toy mice.


In what forms is Catnip available?

Catnip comes in bulk in dried leaves and stems, contained within cat toys , and as a spray. The leaves and stems should be squashed a bit between your fingers before giving them to your cat. The spray is wonderful for turning non-catnip toys into catnip toys or rejuvenating old toys.

Where can I buy catnip?

  • The vast majority of garden centers(nurseries) sell fresh catnip in the herb section.
  • Most pet storessell catnip and catnip dry toys.
  • You can sow it at home and dry it.
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