Catnip and The Affects of Catnip on Cats
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.
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.
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.