But all the other cool cats are doing it! CatNip, all you need to know before you give in.

Clara B
September 28, 2020
5 min read

We all need a treat to wind down after a long day, and it’s no different for your cat. While you might choose  a cold beer, a glass of wine or a bar of chocolate, after your cat has been busy looking after your house all day, it deserves a little treat too. So, as your cat isn't into beer, wine, or chocolate, it might be pestering you for catnip?

But what is catnip? What do you do with it, and how is it going to affect your feline friend?

What is Catnip?

Catnip is a plant which is related to mint and contains an essential oil called nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is known to cause a euphoric and almost hallucinogenic feeling in cats. When cats bite, chew, rub against or roll in it, they release the oils and feel the effects.

What will it do to my cat?

Different cats react in different ways to catnip; for some this could be a mellow purring, whereas others might go a little bit delirious and start doing acrobatics all over the place - but don't worry, this should only last a few minutes. Then there are some cats who don't react at all. Cats under the age of nine weeks usually do not react, and the response to catnip is believed to be hereditary. If you have a cat who doesn't respond to dry catnip, then try the fresh version.

How should I use catnip?

You can use catnip as a healthy and fun treat by sprinkling dried leaves in areas you want your cat to be interested in, or you can use a catnip spray on its favourite toy. Just make sure that you give in small doses as it doesn't take much to stimulate cats; so a little bit goes a long way.

Where do you find catnip?

As well as buying fresh catnip which you can get from garden centres, many cat products have catnip built into them for an instant attraction. It is usually stated on the packaging, but if you're not sure, then give it a sniff! Cat towers, scratching posts and many cat toys often come pretreated with catnip.

Is catnip safe?

Catnip is natural, non-toxic, completely safe and nonaddictive fun for cats. Although it doesn't happen very often, overindulgence can cause vomiting or diarrhoea, so you may want to limit your cat's exposure if it gets too excited.

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Clara B
Lead Clinical Vet