This is an herb that is already connected to cats just by her name. Catnip is not only interesting to cats because of the smell but some cats even enjoy eating it.
In this article we will discuss whether catnip is safe for cats or not and what are the possible good or bad sides to this herb.
What is catnip?
This herb is most similar to mint. It comes from Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe and another name for it is catmint. It has a very short life, so it is mostly used as a dry herb or as essential oil. There are many uses of catnip. It can be used as a repellant, as essential oil and many others. The main component of this herb is terpenoid nepetalactone, and essential oil is made by steam distillation.
People mostly use it as a tea due to sedative effect it has on our bodies. Catnip essential oil has the same use, and we can find it in aromatherapy for relaxation. People who suffer from stress or who are exposed to stressful situations can use this herb to ease down these effects.
How catnip effects cats?
Nepetalactone in catnip has the greatest effect on cats. We can find it in leaves of this herb. The way that this component affects cats is by giving them a feeling of kick, which is similar to certain effects of marijuana or more serious drugs.
When a cat smells catnip she seems to go completely crazy. She gets a high kick of energy and you will definitely notice if this occurs. This lasts for only a couple of minutes and then she goes back to her normal state. This, of course, doesn’t happen to all of the cats. About 50% of cats have a reaction to catnip and the other 50% don’t feel any effect at all. Common reactions after exposure to catnip are playfulness, hunting, rolling around etc.
The most important this is that catnip is not poisonous to cats so they can be around it all of the time. The only thing that can happen is that they will get used to the smell, and the effect of catnip will no longer be possible.
Sensitivity to catnip is passed on from one generation to another. The best way to determine whether your kitten will react to catnip is to try it out on his mother before the kitten is born. If she reacts to it, the kitten will react as well.
Catnip in cat’s diet
Even though catnip is healthy, there is no real reason why you should feed your cat with it. Catnip is used in human diet as a sedative so this is exactly how it can be used in cat’s diet.
If your feline friend seems to be hyperactive you can try mixing in some catnip in his meal or giving it to him raw. Some cats react well to catnip and other don’t seem to like it as much. In either way the effect you will get is the opposite one from when the cat smells catnip.
This method is safe for your cat so you don’t have to be worried about hurting her. Just make sure not to give her too much, since then catnip can have a laxative effect. If your cat has eaten catnip and she seems calmer than usual, there is no need to panic. Of course, if you notice that something is wrong or different you can always contact your vet, and let him know what happened.
The catnip effect will only last for a few minutes (10 minutes max.) and after that your cat should be back to normal.
It is best to give your cat catnip in moderation, because the more catnip you give to your cat the less she will react to it. They seem to get used to the effect of catnip, and overcome that feeling of high energy or calmness.
Different uses of catnip
Since catnip has such a big effect on cats, it can be used as a training tool. The smell of catnip seems to draw them so you can use this herb for training by sprinkling some of it on the cat’s bed, next to the scratching post or anywhere else where you want your feline friend to go.
Catnip can be used inside the toys as well, so just roll their toys in some catnip or just put a little bit of catnip onto an old cloth and let your cat play with it. The effect of catnip is not addictive, so you don’t have to be worried about this effect.
You can also use this method to reward your feline friend when she has been acting well. This way she will learn that she has been rewarded, and won’t have a problem with repeating the same action again.
To get the most of the catnip effect, it is best to buy dry catnip. This way you will be able to keep your catnip for a longer time.
Some cats are more shy than others, so in some cases catnip can help those shy cats to come out of their shell and start playing around more. Also, if your cat is afraid of driving in a car, you can give her some catnip before you get her into the car. This way she will be relaxed for a certain period of time, and you will be able to enjoy your ride without having her jump around.
Toys filled with catnip are even a commercial thing. So, a lot of brands that produce cat toys use catnip as their main ingredient. Cats that are smaller and in development are more playful than older cats, so giving them toys with catnip can actually be a good idea. They will exhaust themselves and go to sleep more easily.
In conclusion, if your cat enjoys catnip it is safe to give it to her from time to time. The high kick of energy or relaxation is definitely needed some times. You can use it as a training tool or simply as a sedative for your hyperactive friend.
Even though many people don’t like the idea of using catnip to, in a way, control their cats, it is up to you to decide that. The most important fact is that catnip is safe for cats and poisoning is out of the question. The biggest mistake you can make is that you can give your cat too much catnip, and this happens very rarely because cats have a good sense of the fact that they are full.