What is in Catnip? Is Catnip Safe for Cats
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What is in Catnip? Is Catnip Safe for Cats

Is catnip safe for cats, is catnip dangerous to give my cat? How does cat nip make cats high? Can cat nip hurt my cat? How much catnip to give a cat. How often can have cats? Can kittens have cat nip? How old should kittens be before they can have catnip? Will my cat get sick from eating catnip? Learn more about catnip and why some cats love it.

If you are a cat owner you have probably heard of catnip, a plant that makes cats high. You may be wondering about giving your cat, or kitten, catnip, and safety concerns related to using it.

Catnip is a plant, Nepeta cataria, it is sometimes also called catmint or catwort.

Catnip contains a substance called Nepetalactone which has a smell that attracts cats, but has no little affect on kittens under 6 months of age. Even some wild cats have been shown to be stimulated by nepetalactone.

Cats can smell the chemical in catnip on the growing plants and will be attracted to them, but it has a much stronger smell when the leaves are crushed. It can be dried and stored for years. If the container is not air tight cats may smell it and try to find it, as such it is often recommended that a person store catnip in their freezer.

Although it has not be studied fully the smell of nepetalactone is suspected of being similar to a cat pheromone, which might explain why most kittens pay it no notice, but does not explain why about 30% of adult cats seem to be immune to the affects of its smell as well. Oddly enough, and probably due to heredity, many cats in Australia are not affected by catnip.

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Catnip is usually eaten, the cat will become excited, it may drool, meow, become playful, or aggressive. Catnip may act as an appetite stimulate. After 10 to 20 minutes the cat will often sleep.

Is Catnip Safe for Cats?

Catnip is not really addictive, so you do not have to worry about that. The biggest risk is that your cat might have allergies or a sensitive stomach to catnip. Organic catnip may have less risks, but in general you should not give catnip to a cat if you are not going to be home to supervise it. The symptoms of a cat with an allergic reaction would be seizures, or a loss of consciousness; the cat should be taken to the veterinarian immediately. A cat with a sensitive stomach may have diarrhea.

Because some cats become aggressive, and play rough after having catnip, you might not want to let young children play with the cat at that time.

Otherwise catnip is fine and may even keep your cat from eating your household plants.

How to Give Catnip to a Cat

Roll, or crush, the catnip in your hand. A pinch or two is plenty.  If you have cat furniture you can rub the catnip on the cat furniture (cat tower or scratching post). Catnip may be given once a week.

Note: Catnip is effective at deterring mosquitoes but if you have it planted in your yard it will attract neighborhood cats, who (if your plant is not protected) can destroy a plant in only a few days.

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Comments (4)

Interesting article Brenda. Voted up. Thank you for support and vote.

I have never lived with a cat that didn't go bunkers over catnip. Very well-written article packed full of interesting facts on catnip and how cats react or not reacr=t to it.

I've only had one cat that just wasn't very interested in catnip. The others would play with it in a little stuffed toy for about 30 minutes and then their eyes would look as though they were in a trance or as though they were drunk! Fun to watch them play with this stuff!

I had a black cat, -Martin Luther King Jr., -that would get *deliriously drunk* on a sprig of wild catmint. I mean this cat would make a total & complete fool out of himself!! It was a riot to watch this cat get so stupefied that he couldn't even walk, but would just lay there on the floor rolling around & swatting at imaginary birds in the air...