Cat Articles

Catnip and Cats

Originally from Europe and Asia, minty, lemony, potent catnip has long been associated with cats. Research shows that cats big and small adore this weedy member of the mint family. But why do they like catnip so much? Is it safe? And what does it mean if your cat doesn't like it? 

Catnip's Effects

It's genetics that determines whether your feline friend falls for it. About one cat in two inherits a sensitivity to the herb. But you won't know if your kitten is one of them until sometime between the ages of 3 and 6 months.

Catnip's allure is in its volatile oil. Found in catnip's leaves, stems, and seeds, it only takes one or two sniffs of that wondrous oil before susceptible felines are licking, chewing, and rolling head-over-tail in kitty bliss.

Though intense, that bliss is usually short-lived, lasting about 10 minutes for most cats. For some, the euphoria translates into aggressive playfulness. At the same time, it makes others mellow and calm. But no matter what reaction your cat has, once the blissfulness passes it'll be about two hours before you cat responds to catnip again.

Catnip: Toys and Training

Because cats do respond to catnip again and again, the herb can be a powerful training aid.

Want to keep your cat from clawing furniture? Rub a scratching post with catnip to make it more appealing. Bought a new cat bed? Sprinkle a little of the herb on the cushion to make it more attractive.

You can also provide enrichment for an indoor cat by providing catnip toys.

The intensity of your cat's response to toys and training will be affected by the type of catnip you use. Catnip comes in the form of sprays, dried or fresh. Try them all to see which one your cat prefers.

Fortunately catnip (which is non-addictive and safe to eat) is easy to grow in a sunny window. You can even go so far as to create your own kitty garden. Not only will they enjoy both, but having their own house plants may keep them out of yours. 

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