What Is Catnip?
Catnip makes cats respond in a playful or downright silly manner. Find out more about "nepetalactone", catnip's active, yet harmless compound.
If you’re a dedicated cat owner you’ve undoubtedly indulged your feline friend with the occasional catnip “fix”. Cats seem to have natural radar where this “herb” is concerned. They might be in complete doze mode, but after as little as a single whiff, they switch into full cat alert.
Catnip or Nepatia cataria, is a native North American plant. The freshly clipped leaves, when rubbed gently between your fingers, carry a potent, minty scent, whereas the dried leaves smell like alfalfa. Contact with catnip, in either form, causes what veterinarians describe as the “catnip response”. The active compound in catnip is nepetalactone and resembles a hallucinogen. However, be aware that catnip is never toxic to your pet.
Most cats’ initial reaction involves sniffing, licking, inhaling or actually eating the stuff. Once they get some into their systems, cats rub their chins and sometimes their entire bodies into the scattered catnip. Most feline reaction lasts five to fifteen minutes. After that, their eyes glaze over and their response fades. And your kitty is feeling pretty laid back!
Catnip may be found in various forms. Pet product manufacturers incorporate the dried leaves into cat toys and chewy treats. Applying catnip spray or crushed leaves to your cat’s scratching post might dissuade ‘Frisky’ from shredding your barco lounger or antique sofa. Catnip is also very easy to grow. Try it indoors or outside in your garden. It’s wise, though, to plant it where your “Frisky”, or other roaming cats, can’t get into it too easily since they’ll keep nibbling and rolling in the plant until it’s literally demolished. But at least they’ll be happy and sometimes silly cats!