Catnip is a recreational herb enjoyed by many cats all over the world. Nepeta cataria as it is also known by is a member of the mint family. This lovely green perennial has a reputation for attracting cats and driving them crazy, in a good way. As turns out, it has an active ingredient called Nepetalactone found in the leaves, stems, and seeds of the plant…
But is it good for cats? YES! Its scents are very stimulating to cats that react to it and encourages play and exercise. Catnip doesn’t harm cats, in fact, my cat Pizza prefers his catnip toys to his other ones. It is nonaddictive and doesn’t cause harm.
According to a new video from the American Chemical Society, Nepetalactone is a terpenoid, this class of chemicals is also found in cloves, ginger, and cannabis. This chemical actually an aphid sex pheromone designed to attract pests. Additionally, the pheromone also attracts the aphids’ natural predator so aphids fall into a natures trap, and the catnip can thrive. Now that we know WHY Catnip makes pheromones, how does it affect cats, and is it good for cats? Read on…
Only approximately, 60%-65% of cats react to its effects. There is a part of a cat’s brain “Jacobson’s organ” that makes the cat reacts to the scent. The scent enters the nasal passages and nepetalactone reacts with proteins in the cat’s brain. It triggers parts of the brain and evokes a behavior similar to that of a cat pheromone. It is fascinating to me how CBD isn’t the only natural chemical that reacts to the brain.
How do cats react to catnip?
Although catnip can be used to help with anxiety, like CBD oil, mostly it makes your cat feel frisky, it has even been called a cat aphrodisiac. Science is so interesting sometimes. Sadly, a cat’s reactions are a genetic trait, some cats have the trait and some don’t. Kitten under 6 weeks is not usually affected by catnip but it is usually evident by 6 months of age if your kitten will enjoy the benefits a little catnip from time to time.
Ways Catnip can be beneficial for cats?
- Helps relieve stress and anxiety
- It encourages the use of scratching post
- Promotes socialization
- Inexpensive natural product. It is even easy to grow at home.
- Reduced Boredom for indoor cats
When playing with a catnip-filled toy, often cats get excited and roll around. It’s fun to watch them enjoy themselves. Some cats start to vocalize, others just enjoy rubbing there faces on the toy and purr with joy.
Cats enjoy the stimulation that usually lasts for about 15-30 min followed by a deep relaxation. Often a cat will take a long nap after play. A catnip filled toy can be a great tool to help entice a shy or anxious cat in a new surrounding, to come out and play. Catnip can be hard to resist. Even large cats like tigers and cheetahs enjoy the benefits of catnip.
Pizza’s experience with Catnip
We have enjoyed Catnip form from time to time. In my experience, Pizza gets really curious. He gets pretty active and playful he likes to bite and kick, which is perfectly normal behavior.
Sometimes cats may even eat catnip or drool with excitement while playing. It is safe to ingest, there are even catnip treats available on the market. When eaten it appears to relax the cat. without the enthusiasm of the scent. Some treats combine catnip with CBD oil. great for stressful times like car rides or company. Occasionally a cat can get a little aggressive “under the influence” of catnip. If you are bringing catnip home for the first time, be aware your feline buddy might get a little wild, fortunately, it will only last for a few minutes. Once olfactory fatigue sets in, then it is nap time.
Fortunately, Catnip is 100% nontoxic, however, overuse leads to laziness and lack of interest. Just kidding, however, It is considered a mild feline hallucinogen, and leaving catnip toys out about once a week is best. Playing with catnip toys too often does lead to a lack of effect. For my indoor-only cat, I like to rotate between catnip scented toys and his favorite treat puzzles.
Good Alternatives to Catnip
For that 30% of the cat population that isn’t affected by catnip, there is an alternative.
Valerian Root – It contains the chemical actinidine. Although it is different and not related to catnip, it is just as effective on cats. Its euphoric effects and relaxation does last longer. It may be more useful if you know your cat will be in a stressful situation, a little playtime with some valerian root beforehand might help.
Pizza’s experience with Valerian Root
My experience with Valerian Root? Pizza enjoys catnip and will have a good time with his toys. But Valerian Root? He reacts INSANE to Valerian. I found out the hard way. that he is in love with it. Making a special trip to the herb store, I bought some valerian root for tea for myself. Often used as a sleep aid I was looking for a natural alternative to sleeping pills. I was warned that it has a very distinct odor often compared to “dirty socks” but I had heard it was effective and non-habit forming.
I turned my back for one minute and left my purchase on the counter. Being the big curious boy that Pizza is, one minute was all it took, he quickly found my bag of loose tea and tore it to pieces. Stinky Valerian root tea was all over the floor…. Who would have been able to predict cats react to something other than Catnip? Boy, was he a HAPPY cat! Rolling all over it, whispering sweet nothings into the air, purring loudly. It had the opposite effect on me. I was not as happy, but I got over it. More importantly, I learned that there was more than one benefit of Valerian Root.
Yes, catnip is good for cats. A non-toxic natural herb that brings a little joy and calmness for your feline friend. The world is a stressful place, especially today. It is important to have a little fun and enjoy yourself and spend time with your cat. .
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I’m a busy blogger pet parent to my senior-aged cat Pizza. We have traveled all over Los Angeles, endured several moves, jobs, roommates and now global pandemic together. Today we write, learn, and share information and our favorite products, in hopes you can experience your best life with pets too, We currently live with other humans and their beautiful dog.