All of my cats love catnip - but they each love it in their own way.

Coco-Puff will roll around in it and act all giddy.

Cherry will become oddly aggressive; hissing and protecting her little catnip mouse like it's stuffed with tiny nuggets of gold.

Princess will lick, lick, lick the catnip off the toy until she's created a very soggy mess - after which, she will promptly fall asleep.

So what's the deal with this stuff?

Why does it have such a weird, varying (and funny to watch!) effect on my cats?

Can my cat get addicted to it?

Is too much of it a bad thing?

I'm here to answer all your catnip related questions....and more! I will tell you things about catnip you never even thought to ask.

Ready to hop aboard the catnip express? Let's go!

1). Is fresh catnip REALLY better than the catnip that comes from the store?

You betcha! It's always more potent, and is preferred by 5 out of 5 cats. You can grow your own..it's easy! Even if you have a "non-green thumb"! In fact, catnip has to be one of the easiest plants on earth to grow!

Here is a little primer on growing your own catnip - sort of like an article within an article:

Some facts about the plant itself: Catnip is a perennial herb, in the mint family. Common catnip has white flowers and grows up to 3 feet high.

Plant catnip in a garden (unless you have a lot of stray cats hanging around your yard - we had no problem with stray cats) in rows (approx.) 18 inches apart.

Plant in moderate to strong sun, and mulch with hay or dried lawn clippings.

We started out with a small plant we purchased at Walmart for next to nothing. You can also start with seeds if you like. Ours took off like wildfire, that's all I can tell you!

You can also plant in a flower box on your deck (if you have no yard) or even a pot in a sunny portion of your home (away from your cat, of course)!

Be sure to plant AFTER any danger of frost, if you are planting outside.

In a few months,your plant should be 18 inches high. It should have thumb-sized leaves (your basic thumb - not a giant's thumb or a baby's thumb).

Strip the leaves, or cut the entire stalk, tie together, and hang upside down in a shady place for a few days. Or spread leaves out on newspaper in shade (away from kitty!).

As soon as the leaves are dry, crumble them up into a handy Tupperware - or better yet, a container that allows no light to enter.

And there you go - year round pleasure for your cat!

Now back to the question portion of the program.

2). Why does catnip make my cat act all weird?

Catnip has a hallucinogenic effect. Your cat is reacting to similar "feel good" pheromes that are released during sexual courtship/activity. The plant's natural chemical...nepetalactone (whew!) which is in the smell of the plant..not the taste is what drives cats wild, and triggers the pleasure center in your cat's brain. This chemical is similar in smell to the essence excreted by female cats, which is why most males love it....

So why do my FEMALE cats love it, you may ask?

No one knows for sure....but they do! For some reason, this particular chemical has an exciting effect on the "ladies," as well.

However, non sexual behaviour such as playing, chasing, and hunting will occurr with many cats. The effect varies from cat to cat.

For instance, if your cat mostly ingests the plant, he will probably become sleepy. That's because catnip has a sedative effect when eaten. (think: if you have a few drinks).

If your cat mostly inhales the plant, he will become more active and hyper and rolly-rolling around. (Think if you have some strong coffee. Or a few Red Bulls). That's because catnip has a stimulate effect when sniffed.

3). Why isn't my kitten affected by catnip at all?

A cat has to be over 3 months in age, in order for catnip to have any effect. That's because kittens are not yet sexually mature. That's okay, though. Your kitten can find plenty else to drive him crazy - like your shoe laces or your pony-tail holder - or just about anything he can get his little paws on!

Of course, it could be that your grown cat is not "turned on" by catnip, either. There are indeed some cats that are totally blasé about the stuff. If your cat seems to be in this category, try offering some FRESH catnip first, before you write him off as a non catnip lover. Not all cats will respond - about a third of cats will not. It is thought that the love of catnip is an inherited quality.

4). How long does the "high" from catnip last?

This answer is short and quick (just like the "high"): From 5 to 10 minutes. Your cat can get "turned on" again - but he will have to give it about a 2 hour grace period.

5). Can my cat get addicted to the stuff?

No. Your cat will always stop when he's had enough. (You see, in some ways cats ARE smarter than people)! And your cat will never suffer a hangover, either.

6). Is catnip safe for my cat to eat?

Usually - unless you notice your cat having tummy troubles afterwards. If so, always offer him catnip inside a little sock toy you can sew yourself - even if you "don't sew", this is an easy enough task for anyone to manage - just a few stitches. You can also get one of those "refillable" catnip toys, if you like.

7). Can my cat ever become "immune" to the effects of catnip....like people with drugs?

Yes, and yes. So try no to offer catnip more than once a week. Save it for a fun and exciting treat! Otherwise, your cat might become ho-hum about it....the same way you would grow tired of chocolate cake if you ate it every day....

8). How do YOU offer catnip to YOUR cats?

I take a pinch of catnip out of my Tupperware container. Then I rub it together really well between my fingers to release the exciting feel-good oil...then I rub, rub, rub the crumpled catnip into an old toy - (it's more exciting to my cats when I vary the toy) and then, simply toss.

If I toss the toy into a box, or half hide it under a blanket (or here's a good one - stuff the toy inside of an empty toilet paper roll) it's even more fun!

Speaking of tossing - here's a funny tidbit I'll toss in. If I'm giving catnip to one of my cats, and the other cats are nowhere in sight because they're sound asleep, about four rooms away - suddenly, they will appear, wide awake with expectant faces. These cats are like little kids, posessing special radar for when something fun is going on, and they don't want to miss out!

9). Can people eat catnip, and will it make them high?

Yes and no. Actually, people don't really eat catnip, but it can be used for tea. However, you will experience no hallucinagenic effects. And chances are, you will not start rolling around on the floor or chasing imaginary mice after you drink it!

10). What other weird and interesting things can you tell me about catnip?

Glad you asked! Catnip (in the form of tea) can be used for settling an upset stomach -- or quelling menstrual cramps! It aslo has natural healing qualities for cuts (just crush fresh leaves, dampen, and apply), and it can serve as a mosquito repellant.

Rub some into your skin and stand outside on a hot, muggy summer evening. You may be attacked by your neighbor's cat, but you won't be attacked by mosquitos!


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Comments 22 comments

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Catnip can be used as a mosquito repellant - awesome! I might be attacked by cats - hmmm... not so sure about that one. Thanks for the info!

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 5 years ago from New York Author

Nah...the cats won't attack you. They'll just think you are a big fun toy!!!

sangre profile image

sangre 5 years ago from Ireland

My cat doesn't get effected by catnip. The toys I give her with catnip must not have a strong enough does. She just walks away from them.

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 5 years ago from New York Author

It could be that it's not a very strong catnip they use...or maybe your cat is just one of those cats who isn't affected by catnip! It's possible. Some cats just aren't.

MsQuestion profile image

MsQuestion 5 years ago from New Jersey

My cat loves catnip - even the storebought kind. There is a brand, Dr. Daniels, that's pretty good. Seems pretty fresh.

MAGICFIVE profile image

MAGICFIVE 5 years ago from New York

I have one cat that likes catnip, and one cat that doesn't, and it's funny when the one that doesn't watches the one that does....it's like she's thinking, "Why are you acting like such a crazy idiot?"

PSSST! profile image

PSSST! 5 years ago from Conneticut

Great hub. Fun to read. I always wanted to grow catnip!

Red 5 years ago

This is a fun hub. I think I'll go give my kitty some catnip now!

Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 5 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA


You are a funny writer. As a cat lover, I loved this well written hub and all the information. My three female cats all like catnip. In my attempt to get them to stop scratching on furniture, I put the catnip on their scratching "posts."

Cher 5 years ago

Can catnip have varying effects on one cat?

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 5 years ago from New York Author

It absolutely seems to be so! I find when I offer catnip too OFTEN, my cat will actually become disinterested in it! Also, sometimes it might seem like your cat is losing interest, but the catnip you're offering is just not as fresh as the catnip you offered the last time....or maybe, sometimes, our cats are just not in the mood!

marimccants profile image

marimccants 5 years ago

Catnip, is good for cat, good article.

David Alderson profile image

David Alderson 5 years ago from Cat Lovers, Indiana

I have a lot of first hand knowledge about cat nip. In my short stories as Max Da Cat my friend Buzz thinks his people are growing it. I fell under its influence the other night and had a relapse in Wal-Mart last night.

student 3 years ago

what month do you plant it in??

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 3 years ago from New York Author

Whenever the temperature in your time zone reaches about 68 during the day, and doesn't go lower than 50 degrees at night.

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justme1694 3 years ago

I gave my cat some catnip 2 days ago now he's hiding and wont come out

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 3 years ago from New York Author

I never heard of that reaction, but I'm sorry to hear it! That reminds me of my cat Cocopuff whenever I get the vacuum cleaner out. Maybe the catnip was TOO strong? Just give him lots of love and encouragement and toys without catnip!

Kathy Snedeker 2 years ago

How long can you store the catnip in a container and how long will the stuffed mice stay fresh? I want to make them a head of time to sell at the flea market. What if I don't sell all of them? Can I keep the stuffed mice packed for a year before I sell them. Will they remain fresh.

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 2 years ago from New York Author

Sorry it took so long to answer - I have been away! I have stored catnip in the REFRIGERATOR for over a year, and it has remained fresh - if you don't want a refrigerator full of stuffed mice, perhaps you have another cool place you could store your product...a basement or garage?

Valentina 2 years ago

I have 2 cats and three dogs. One night, I ran out of cat food (the dry type) and my cats were hungry. So since I had dog food only and the shops were cloesd, I gave them dog kibbles. They're more or less of the same shape and size and are made of the same ingredients chicken. My cats took a nibble and refused the rest of the bowl, preferring to go hungry than eat dog food. The next day, i got them a fresh pack of made-for-cats kibbles and they immediately dived in and ate up. How come my cats knew what I gave them wasn't cat food? I also know of dogs that won't eat cat food for the long run (not mine though, cos they're pigs and will eat anything). It would be good if a pet food manufacturer can answer this question. Is there some special ingredient you put in cat and dog food that makes cats and dogs know which kibbles is who's? Also, nowadays, dogs are eating fish too like salmon. You can't say it's the ingredient. How come they know the difference?

Kacie 22 months ago

The salt content in the food would likely be the cause.

Shannon 3 months ago

Is the plant Hollyhocks related to the catnip plant? We planted hollyhocks this fall and my cat loves those plants.!!!!!!!

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