Catnip and The Affects of Catnip on Cats

Catnip

Nepeta is a flowering plant that is in a genus of about 250 plant species. Nepeta is commonly referred to as catnip or catmint because of the affects that it has on domestic cats. For about two-thirds of cats, catnip will cause a behavioral change, typically variations of euphoria.

The herb can be used for other means besides causing behavioral changes with cats. The nepetalactone in catnip is a great repellent against insects, such as mosquitoes, cockroaches, and termites; it's actually thought that the nepetalactone is ten times more effective than DEET, which is the active ingredient in most insect repellents, but when used on the skin, the oil (nepetalactone) is not quite as effective

As a pet product, catnip is a fun treat for your cat. Just make sure that you purchase organically grown catnip, so that you know that your cat isn't getting introduced to chemicals that could potentially harm his health.

by andedam
by andedam

Organic Catnip

Organic catnip is grown under very controlled conditions, where there is no use of pesticides or other chemical. Companies that claim to be organic or even certified organic are required to provide you with a certificate of true organic content, if requested.

Because catnip prefers to grow in dry, semi-arid places, such as along railway lines, hedge rows, and fence lines, some suppliers will claim to have certified organic catnip due to collecting in wile areas, even to include by abandoned waste places such as buildings and dump sites, but unless you know that the catnip was collected by a professional herb collector, it's not a good idea to purchase this catnip.

Catnip buds are the flowering portion of the plant. The buds are the most potent part of the catnip plant, and is considered the caviar of catnip.

Catnip oil is the essential oils of the plant. Catnip oil is produced within specialized hairs that are in the upper epidermis of the catnip plant.

Affects of Catnip

Catnip can be a fun treat for your cat. Essentially you can give your cat catnip to create a change in behavior whether that be turn a lazy cat into a silly cat or just relax a wile cat. You can use catnip as a training tool and even as an exercise mechanism by putting the herb into your cats favorite toy.

It only takes a pinch or so to elicit a change of behavior in your cat. Basically, all you have to do is crush dried catnip buds or leaves between your fingers and sprinkle it onto the floor, bed, cat furniture, or favorite toy.

You don't want to put catnip in your cats food, as this may upset your cat's eating habits, but there isn't a problem with sprinkling a small bit on a toy or cat bed.

When using the catnip, you want to make sure that you don't include the stalks. Only include the catnip leaves and flowers that have been finely ground. Remove the hard pieces before giving it to your cat.

Cat on Catnip

Once you've gotten the catnip just right, and you've sprinkled it on the floor, or wherever, your cat may experience at least one of the following behaviors:

  • Become aggressive after use.
  • Become territorial over the toy, bed, etc. that has had catnip on it.
  • Get into silly positions.
  • Leap around.
  • Lick the catnip.
  • Meow and just roll in the catnip.
  • Play with an invisible friend.
  • Purr constantly.
  • Rub his cheeks against the spot where the catnip was.
  • Run around the room.
  • Settle into a dreamy, sleepy pose and just relax for a while.

If your cat does become aggressive after using catnip or territorial over the object the catnip was sprinkled on, you may want to stop using catnip in the future.

Not all cats are susceptible to behavioral changes when introduced to catnip, so if your cat does not change behavior, or the catnip just doesn't have any affect on him, you can try using honeysuckle or valerian toys as an alternative. It's actually thought, that a cat's susceptibility of catnip is hereditary, which is why the cats in Australia do not have any behavioral changes to catnip (they have a very small genetic pool).

If you have a younger cat or an older cat, you will find that it probably will not show behavioral changes, so if it's a younger cat, just wait till it's at least 4 months old before you determine whether or not the cat will be affected by catnip. Just remember that about 10-30% of cats are not affected.

by miss insomnia tulip
by miss insomnia tulip

Storing Catnip

As an herb, catnip will lose its potency over time because the nepetalactone (the essential oil in catnip) is UV sensitive, so in order to get the longest shelf-life possible, you want to store catnip in the freezer in order to maximize the freshness of the herb.

If you would rather not keep catnip in the freezer, you can use an resealable container and keep it out of UV rays. You want to keep the container in a cool, dry place. You do not want to use clear glass or plastic because UV rays can still get to the catnip; your best bet is to try using a tin, colored glass, or a ceramic pot.

Because the essential oil in catnip is UV sensitive, the herb can overtime lose some of its potency when exposed to light, but because it doesn't take much catnip for cats to respond, it can still be used months, and sometimes years down the road.

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Comments 4 comments

catsong54 profile image

catsong54 5 years ago from Pocono Mountains, PA

Very interesting. I always wondered about the effects of catnip. This Christmas my cats all got toys wrapped in tissue paper so they could open them easily. They played for hours with the catnip toys, rolling around, rubbing them on their faces and, in some cases, taking them off by themselves. Healthy is important for me, so I will have to check on the organic tag or grow my own!


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I have grown, dried, and stored nepita mussini for years. I love the beautiful aspect of the plant in the garden with its blue flower stalks from spring through summer. It's a gorgeous complement to spring and summer flowering plants.

My cats have loved the plants, too, fresh or dried. Out in the garden, they would roll in it; inside the house, they would savor the fresh or dried leaves.

You are right, individual cats react differently to catnip. Some purr, some get aggressive, some playful, and so on.

People, interestingly, can have a surprisingly good reaction to catnip when sleep seems out of reach. Make a hot tea of the leaves and flowers, drink it before going to bed, and sleep soundly.


hattoss profile image

hattoss 7 years ago from United States

Good information for cat lovers but I do not have one. May be I can share this with others who care.


solarcaptain 7 years ago

That's good information. I always thought my cat was feeling a little too frisky after getting into the catnip. she is definitley an addict. She knows where I keep it and will let me know when it's time for her "high."

Cats can be devious, hateful, tricky, act dumb(it's all an act) withhold or grant love, depending on what they want, turn into murderous killers if you try to put them in the cat carrier, mine just shreds the box and acts like what else are you going to m make me do?

She will stand in front of the computer screen until she gets the attention she wants, walk across the key board, knock coffee over papers I have just finished, and want to go out the minute I hit the shower. She requires my company while she is eating, and grabs my chair for naps. I got her a chair, which now sits outside cause she doesn't want the one I don't use. she has her own window seats around the house so as not to miss one thing moving.

I guess i like to write about cats. I like to read about them too. thanks for the article.

afrticle

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