Of all the items that cats can enjoy, catnip is one of the most alluring. Catnip is a plant in the mint family. It has a sturdy stem, heart-shaped leaves, and tiny purple, blue, pink, or white flowers. There are over 250 varieties, and they easily grow in North America. Its scientific name is “Nepeta cataria.” Other names include catwort or catmint. As the names suggest, civilizations have known for centuries the euphoric effect of this plant on felines. However, is catnip good for cats? Here is what to know about this interesting plant and your cat.
How Catnip Affects Cats
Catnip, in its fresh, dried, or chemical form, can have a highly pleasurable effect on felines of all sizes. The chemical responsible for the cats’ changed behavior around this plant is nepetalactone, although exactly how this translates to the cats’ pleasure is not altogether known. The smell travels from the cats’ mouth and nose into its brain, producing a calm or excitable, but overall happy, effect.
Although big and domestic cats enjoy it alike, only around 60% of cats will react to it. They also do not respond to it until they are around six months to a year old. If your cat feels happy around it at all, it is because of a dominant gene that enables them to sense it differently. A cat’s catnip-induced playfulness usually lasts around half an hour.
Can Cats Eat Catnip?
Cats can eat catnip, and humans can too! Catnip is known for its digestive health benefits and can benefit humans and felines alike. Of course, too much can upset a cat’s stomach, but cats will usually have no problem with self-regulating.
Ways to Use Catnip
One can grow a catnip plant in the house or garden for your cat’s enjoyment. Other options are to sprinkle dried catnip or use a catnip spray on your pet’s cat tree or toys. A spray is an ideal option if your cat has GI issues after ingesting the plant. If your pet cat has anxiety, such as separation anxiety, ask your vet if catnip is a good treatment for it.
Trust the Care of Your Pet to the Professionals at Everhart Veterinary Medicine!
At Everhart Veterinary Medicine, our veterinary professionals strive to provide your pet with the very best of veterinary care. We believe that the best care for your pet should be provided by experienced, compassionate, and knowledgeable veterinary professionals. With two Maryland locations in both Baltimore and Pasadena, we are always ready to welcome your pet as a new patient! Give us a call today at 410-355-3131 or 410-793-7670! For more information, as well as updates on veterinary news and topics, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn!