What is Catnip and what effect does it have on cats?

09/28/2011

What is catnip effects

As a cat owner you have probably seen firsthand how much felines enjoy catnip. It is a time honored activity to give your cat a little of this substance in a toy and watch them go crazy with it. The majority of cats simply cannot get enough of the stuff and will come back time and again for more. It definitely has a certain effect on them that make them act a little unusual. But what is Catnip and how does it really affect your furry friend?

What is Catnip?

What is catnip effects

Catnip is a perennial herb and member of the Mint family Labiatae that is well known for its ability to make cats act a little funny. It is characterized by its jagged leaves and small white flowers. Catnip is native to Europe & Asia, however it has become naturalized in America & Canada since being introduced into the regions. There are approximately 250 species of Catnip.

Catnip is also known by the following names:   Cataria,  Catmint, Catnep, Catrup, Cat's Heal All,  Cat's-play, Cat's Wort, Catswort, Catwort, Chi Hsueh Tsao, Field Balm, Garden Nep, Herba Cataria, Herba Catti, Nebada, Nep.

How Does Catnip Work?

It doesn’t take much catnip at all to incite a reaction from most cats. It has been determined that a portion of 1 part per billion of the active compound in catnip, nepetalactone, is enough to have significant effects on felines. Due to this fact, even catnip that has been sitting around for a while will still be potent enough to have slight effects on your cat. But to get the full enjoyment out of this plant, your cat will prefer that it is as fresh as possible.

The active ingredient in catnip, as stated before, is nepetalactone. This compound takes effect when cats breathe in fumes that catnip gives off. This explains why cats love to play with catnip and chew the leaves which hastens the release of fumes and the scent they can’t get enough of.
 
We don’t really know why catnip has the effect it does and it has yet to be determined how exactly catnip makes your feline feel. Many experts believe that the nepetalactone in catnip triggers a cat’s sexual desires, which is why they love to roll around on the ground after inhaling it. This is much like the action of female cats in heat although catnip affects male and female cats alike. This also explains why young kittens, who have not yet sexually matured, show little interest in catnip at all.

Another interesting thing to note is that some cats are not affected by catnip at all, despite their age or maturity level. The attraction to catnip is inherited and built into a cat’s genes. As an example, Australian cats show no love for catnip at all because their ancestors were not exposed to the herd in a natural environment and they never formed a response to it.

How Does Catnip Affect a cat?

A cat’s behavior can change dramatically when they are introduced to catnip. What exactly it changes to can differ from cat to cat. Common reactions are an increase in meowing and salivation as well as a desire to roll around on the ground with paws flailing in the air. Older cats sometimes seem to be rejuvenated and begin to act like they did when they were kittens. Catnip also seems to make most cats more playful and more interested in toys. After a certain amount of time, cats under the influence of catnip seem to calm down and get sluggish and sleepy.

Catnip has been found to be relatively harmless. It is not addictive and the active ingredient is nontoxic and has no adverse effects on cats. A small number of felines do become a little more aggressive than usual and tend to be a little more possessive.  Simply avoid giving your cat catnip if they start to show signs of aggression or give it to them when they are isolated to enjoy it alone.

Some cats have also shown adverse effects from directly ingesting catnip leaves. This is much more prominent in cats that already have a sensitive digestive tract. You can avoid this by enclosing the catnip into a cloth toy so that your cat can still smell the substance but not eat the leaves.

Coping with Losing a DogCatnip has many fun effects on cats and is widely available in pet stores and food markets everywhere. It is also relatively easy to grow yourself at home.  It is a safe treat for your cat to enjoy and one they will really go crazy for.

Russ Barker has seen some cats do some crazy stuff under the influence of Catnip. These hilarious instances have proved to be the basis for this article. Russ takes care of blog duties at Dog Tag Art, a dedicated group of people who are trying to spread the message about properly identifying your pets. They specialize in durable dog tags for dogs which give people a creative way to keep their pet’s information current and accurate. These colorful custom dog tags are very stylish and unique just like your own wonderful pets.
Russ Barker

(c) Copyright 2009 - 2012 The eTag LLC and Individual Artists | Privacy Policy | Pet ID Tags | Custom Dog Tags | Cat ID Tags | ID Tags for Dogs | Custom Pet Tags