Most cat owners are familiar with catnip but are most likely clueless when it comes to what kind of plant it is, why cats love it, and whether it has any side effects on cats. So, what type of plant is it and is it safe for cats to eat catnip?
What is catnip?
Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is a herb that’s a member of the mint family and has feather-like, light-green foliage with lavender flowers. Some people use catnip leaves to make tea and its flowers are said to help relieve coughs. A few natural bug sprays also use catnip as one of the ingredients.
Is it safe for cats to eat catnip?
It is safe for cats to eat catnip, and it may even help cats with digestive issues. Catnip has anti-diarrheal properties that help cats with diarrhea. However, cats should not ingest catnip in large amounts as this can cause digestive upset.
What does catnip do to cats?
Catnip leaves contain an oil called nepetalactone that causes behavioral changes in cats. When cats are exposed to the oil by smelling the catnip, they display behaviors similar to a female cat in heat which includes overt signs of affection, happiness, relaxation, and active behaviors such as playfulness and even aggression.
Catnips can help relieve anxiety and pain with some veterinarians recommending the use of catnip to help with separation anxiety such as when the cat is left home alone for long periods of time.
Does catnip work on all cats?
According to veterinary studies, approximately 60% of cats display behavioral reactions to catnip. Studies have also indicated that behavioral reaction to catnip is a dominant trait based on genetics, which explains why not all cats show behavioral reactions. Kittens and old cats are also less receptive to nepetalactone and will not be affected much.
How long does catnip high last?
The effects of catnip vary in length depending on the cat. However, catnip high lasts for about 10 minutes and then gradually wears off. It then takes about 30 minutes of not being exposed to catnip for a cat to become susceptible to its effects again.
Note: If a cat smells catnip too often it eventually gets used to it. Additionally, dried catnip loses its potency over time and should be kept in an airtight container to maintain maximum freshness.
Is catnip safe for kittens?
Although catnip is safe for kittens, most cat breeds develop responses to catnip when they are at least 6 months old. Their sensitivity to nepetalactone increases as they become older and then drops again when past a certain age.
When is it safe to give a cat catnip?
It is safe to give catnip to cats when they are at least 6 months old. Kittens aged under 6 months rarely feel the effects of catnip while old cats show little response. It’s recommended to avoid catnip on cats if they experience diarrhea, vomiting, or excessive dizziness each time they are exposed.
Can cats overdose on catnip?
Excessive exposure to catnip can cause health complications in cats, including diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, or having trouble walking. Fresh catnip is more potent than the dried form and you should limit cat’s exposure as much as possible. It’s also recommended to avoid highly potent catnip oils due to their potency.
How to use catnip on cats
Catnip is available in many forms, including fresh catnip, dried catnip, catnip sprays, catnip oils, and toys stuffed with dried catnip. Fresh catnip is the most potent and exposure to its should be limited. Catnip sprays, on the other hand, are ideal if your cat experiences stomach upsets from ingesting the plant.
You have an option to use catnip sprays on your cat’s toys or sprinkle dried catnip on cat trees, scratching post, or cardboard scratcher. Whichever option you choose, try to use catnip in small amounts because excessive exposure can cause digestive issues.
We have noted that catnip is safe for cats aged at least 6 months old but too much exposure is not recommended to avoid health complications such as diarrhea, vomiting, and dizziness.