Jan 03, 2021

You may have seen a cat play with a catnip toy. And the reason why cat loves catnips is still a mystery!

Many scientists had done a lot of research on catnip and its effects on cats. But it is unclear as to why a cat loves catnip. Therefore, it is time to unravel the mystery behind this!

What Is Catnip?

Catnip, officially known as “Nepeta cataria” is an herb belonging to a mint family. It belongs to part of Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa. There exists about 250 species of Catnip throughout the world today. The organic compound called “nepetalactone” is responsible for the effects we see on cats. The leaves, stems, and seeds of the plant contain the oil.

Why Cats Love Catnip?

Catnip is like a drug for cats, which induces a heightened state of experience. It is like tripping on hallucinogenic drugs like LSD or marijuana. This herb has been turning wild cats crazy for a long time.

cats and plant

When your cat inhales a catnip’s aromatic oils, they contact particular receptors in its nose. The receptors connect the brain, which affects the cat’s behavior. When a cat sniffs, rubs, licks, and chews catnip, it releases the oil, which induces euphoria or bliss.

It is the only recreational drug for cats used effectively. Catnip is a very efficient tool to control a cat’s behavior.

Catnip effects on cats

Let’s look at some of the effects catnips have on cats:

  • Catnips do not affect young kittens and older cats. They may avoid it.
  • Some cats get intoxicated and may act weird. When drunk, it may drool or roll around the floor.
  • Some cats become active, and their behavior may change. They might start running, jumping, and hunting.
  • Some cats show signs of aggression.
  • Your cat may start talking more than usual after sniffing catnip.
  • Some cats may have a strong reaction to catnip and may get frisky, growl, and drool.
  • Catnips can result in funny behavior like rolling and curling on the floor, head shaking, and rubbing its face against it.
  • Some cats may show strange behaviors like sniffing, chewing, and licking.

The effects of catnip can last only up to 5-10 minutes. It wears off after a few minutes. But after about two hours, cats may reencounter catnip and have the same reaction.

How does Catnip work?

The compound called nepetalactone is the main culprit which produces these strange reactions. When the nepetalactone goes into the cat’s nose, it sticks to the cells located at the olfactory epithelium. It stimulates the sensory neurons, and it sends signals to the brain.

It is not clear as to what is the reason behind this strange behavior in cats. Scientists claim that the brain sees them as cat pheromones, which trigger their behavior to go crazy.

Why does Catnip not react to some cats?

Catnip’s reaction to cats may differ as some cats may not be affected by the plant. As per an estimate, about 30% of cats do not have any effect on Catnip.

According to scientists, this is in their DNA, and they get it from the parents. They also found out that old cats and young kittens do not have any reaction to the plant. However, big cats like tigers and lions can also react to catnip.

Can Catnip harm the cat?

You might think that catnips are harmful as they are like drugs. But it is a known fact that it is safe for cats. As far as overdosing is concerned, cats know how much to take it.

However, in some instances, the cat may physically harm itself due to hyperactive behavior arising out of it.

How can cats use Catnip?

Usage of Catnip may vary. It is beneficial for your cat to adopt good behavior.

  • Catnip, as a toy, is an easy way to offer your cat catnip.
  • You can grow it at home or place it near the window of your house. Your cat will sniff the herb whenever he likes.
  • Rubbing the catnip into the scratching post or sprinkling it into the surroundings may work.
  • You can use catnip in the car while traveling to give your cat a stress-free journey.
  • You can sprinkle the herb on the cat’s cushion to make it more alluring to the cat.
  • Sprinkle a bit of herb into a ball and let your cat play with it.
  • You can sprinkle some catnip into homemade cat treats. Your cat will eat it and relax or take a nap.
  • If your cat has a loss of appetite, a bit of sprinkling of the herb helps stimulate your cat’s appetite.
  • Catnip can be used as an interactive toy to encourage your cat to play.

Experimenting various method can ensure your cat respond better to Catnip. Catnip potency does not last forever, and it subsides after a few minutes. You can purchase dried Catnip from pet shops or even buy catnip toys. It is easy to grow and readily available for sale. It has other purposes; it can repel mosquitoes or cockroaches.

Humans used the plant as a mild sedative. You can enjoy the effect of Catnip by smoking or chewing them. When it is drunk with tea, it can cause a calm sensation and make you feel relax. It has a medicinal purpose for relieving muscular aches and pains and toothache.

At some point in time, it worked as a substitute for marijuana. Catnips had similar effects to marijuana. People who have used it had claimed it caused hallucinations and euphoria.

Researchers have found Catnip to be more potent than DEET; that is why it works as an insect repellent.

Even after a lot of research, the relationship between cats and Catnip is a mystery. It is still not clear why cats react to catnips.

Thus, as a cat owner, you might want to try offering your cat catnip as it has numerous benefits.

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