Health Benefits Of Catnip
Also known as Nepeta cataria, this minty, lemony herb has been used in toys to train cats and is also easy to grow on your window sill. At the store, you usually find dried catnip in the freezer section stored in an airtight container to maintain the scent when not in use.
According to scientists, when a cat gets a whiff of catnip, it takes over their olfactory senses. You may notice some odd behaviors like hyperactivity, or rolling around on the floor in ecstasy over catnip. Dont worry, your cat is having a great time!
However, if you notice the next day that the catnip is totally discarded, that is likely due to the scent being either rubbed off by your cat or disappearing from being in the open air.
Interestingly, while sniffing it makes cats energetic, eating it has the opposite effect. Catnip has been used for humans and cats as a calming agent, similar to chamomile. Often used to aid;anxiety and insomnia, humans use catnip as tea for a minty relaxing drink. Cats may eat it directly with similar calming results.
Do All Cats Respond To Catnip
Not all cats react to catnip. About 30 percent of domestic house cats don’t have a reaction at all. Kittens and senior cats don’t tend to react as strongly as adult cats. In fact, young kittens typically don’t experience any reaction at all. Kittens only start to react to catnip once they reach 3 to 6 months of age.
The tendency to react to catnip at all seems to be genetic, so an apparent immunity to the effects can be passed down through generations.
Other species of cats do react to catnip, though. Lions and tigers have been known to succumb to the allure of this decadent feline-attracting herb.
Can You Mix Catnip With Cat Food
Its fine to add a small pinch of catnip to your cats food from time to time. This gives your pet a nice treat and can be very helpful for cats who are under the weather and off their food. Its also a handy solution for picky eaters: cats who turn their noses up at a bowl of food may happily wolf it down when its seasoned with a pinch of catnip. I find this doesnt work as well with the sprays or oils; in addition, theyre sometimes manufactured with substances that arent great for cats to eat. Use fresh or dried catnip instead.
The dried herb is most convenient for adding to food you can just sprinkle a pinch over the food and stir it in. You can also chop up fresh catnip and mash it into the food. I prefer to mix the catnip into the food quite thoroughly so the cats dont just eat the top layer and leave the rest. If your cat doesnt immediately go for the seasoned food, you can try warming it gently on the stove or popping it in the microwave for a few seconds. The heat liberates some of the volatile components in the catnip and makes it more attractive to the cat. Ive managed to get even the faddiest feeders to enjoy their meals in this way. Once theyve eaten a particular type of food with catnip in, cats are often more inclined to take the same food in future even if you dont add the catnip.
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Why Do Cats Like Catnip
Cats like catnip because it contains nepetalactone, a psychoactive substance. Cats who are sensitive to this substance experience a wide variety of effects from catnip, including euphoria, bursts of energy, increased affection and all sorts of odd behaviours such as rolling on the floor or staring into the distance with wide, glazed eyes. The leaves and flowers, and to some extent the roots, generally have a euphoric or stimulating effect when sniffed and a sedative effect when consumed. You can use catnip to give your cat a treat or to reduce anxiety in stressed or unhappy cats.
A cats use of catnip tends to be self-limiting. They will stop naturally when they have had enough. If your cat eats too much catnip which is rare they can be sick or have an upset stomach. You might want to limit the amount of catnip that you offer in future.
Most cats are happier and more friendly on catnip but there are outliers; some kitties can become stroppy and aggressive under the influence of the herb, although they may still enjoy taking it. If you have a multi-cat household and one or other of your cats respond in this way, those cats can still enjoy a little catnip. You will need to separate your cat from the rest of your pets until the catnip wears off.
What Is Catnip How Does It Work
Catnip, also known as catmint, catwort, field balm and to give it its Latin name, Nepeta cataria, is a minty, lemony herb that appeals to almost all members of the cat family, including lions, tigers and panthers. Its a member of the mint family.
One of the key components of catnip is a type of chemical called a terpene , known as nepetalactone, which is found in the stem and leaves of the plant. When cats smell nepetalactone, it stimulates certain brain chemicals related to mood and happiness.
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Is Catnip A Drug For Cats
Did we just read psychotropic effects? Does that mean itâs a drug?
Not in the sense of human drug use and addiction. Catnip works on a cat’s hypothalamus to create euphoria. This state only lasts 10 minutes, and more than one-third of catsâ response to catnip is nothing at all.
It isn’t addictive or habit-forming and has no long-term effects on Kitty.
Humans Have Used Catnip Too
Catnip doesn’t have the same sort of impact on us, because our olfactory systems and brains are differently structured. But it may have some subtler effects, and people have been using it for a long time.
As far back as the 1600s, Europeans;used;the plantas a mild sedative, brewing tea with its leaves, making juice from them, and even smoking or chewing them. At various times, the plant was believed to cure colic in infants and excessive flatulence, hives, and toothaches in adult.
In the 1960s, catnip was occasionally used as a substitute for marijuana, with some users claiming it caused hallucinations and euphoria when smoked by humans. Eventually, though, scientists determined this was not the case.
It does, however, have one positive effect. Back in the 1960s,;scientists discovered that catnip’s active chemical acts as a mosquito repellant one that’s actually more powerful than DEET, though it wears off more quickly. In fact, if you want a less harsh alternative to DEET, catnip-based mosquito repellants are still available.
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Where Does Catnip Come From
You probably already know that catnip is a type of plant. Known scientifically as Nepeta cataria,;catnip is also known as catswort or catmint depending on what part of the world youre in.
Catnip is actually closely related to mint plants and shares many properties with them. Like mint, catnip can grow up to 3 feet tall.
The catnip plant is native to southern and eastern Europe, the Middle East, central Asia, and parts of China. Through cultivation, people have spread catnip throughout the world and it can now be found growing wild in northern Europe, New Zealand, and North America.
Catnip is;farmed commercially in places like North Carolina. Catnip seeds are very small and are difficult to sow directly into a field. So, instead, seedlings are used as transplants.
Once harvested, catnip is sold to health food stores for use in;herbal tea mixtures, as well as to cat owners and manufacturers of cat toys.
If you want to see what a catnip farm looks like, check out this short video showing the;The;Kooky Kat Catnip;Company farm:
Those sure are some lucky cats!
Catnip: Toys And Training
Because cats do respond to catnip again and again, the herb can be a powerful training aid.
Want to keep kitty 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 kitty’s cushion to make it more attractive to your feline friend.
You can also provide enrichment for an indoor kitty by creating catnip toys. Sprinkle a bit of the herb into an old sock, then knot the top. Or put a big pinch of catnip in a small paper bag and crush the bag into a tight ball.
The intensity of kitty’s response to toys and training will be affected by the type of catnip you use. While most cats enjoy the herb dried or fresh, they’re usually less interested in catnip sprays, which generally don’t contain enough nepetalactone to appeal to most felines.
Fortunately for kitty, 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 with one pot of catnip and one of wheat, oat, rye, or barley grass. Not only will kitty enjoy both, but having its own house plants may keep kitty out of yours. If you plant catnip directly in the garden, remember that, like most mints, it’s a vigorous, sometimes invasive, grower.
Catnip’s potency doesn’t last forever; the essential oils quickly dissipate. So if you buy dried catnip for your feline friend, store what you don’t use in the freezer.
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Other Uses For Catnip
Catnip is not just for cats. If you grow the herb and have been wondering what to do with catnip that is left over from making cat toys, you have a lot of options. A compound in catnip called nepatalactone, has been found to be insecticidal. You can use it as a natural repellent against mosquitoes, spiders, ticks, cockroaches and other critters in the home.
As a gardener, you may consider planting catnip between rows of vegetables to deter certain pests. A study found that intercropping the herb with collard greens reduced damage from flea beetles. Catnip in the vegetable garden may even repel rabbits and deer.
Catnip may also have some medicinal properties for humans, although before using any herb as a supplement, it is important to speak to your doctor. A tea made from dried catnip leaves and flowers has long been used for stomach upset, fever and other flu symptoms, insomnia, and stress. It is especially helpful for children who are not feeling well as a calming agent and to relieve digestive issues.
In the kitchen, catnip uses expand to include any recipes in which you would use mint. It belongs to the mint family and has a similar flavor but adds a slightly different taste. Whether you grow catnip intentionally in the garden or you find it growing wild, there are many uses for this common herb.
How Catnip Affects Cats
Cats get high off catnip by inhaling the nepetalactone whether from a live plant, dried plant material, or an oil extract. The chemical binds to receptors inside a cat’s nose, which stimulate sensory neurons leading into the brain. This appears to alter activity in several areas of the brain, including the;olfactory bulb, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. This last area, among other things, is involved in regulating the animal’s emotions.
Scientists previously hypothesized that the chemical also triggered a reaction in something called the;vomeronasal organ an extra olfactory organ found deep in the nose in many mammals that’s involved in detecting pheromones but;experiments have ruled that out.;However, it is hypothesizedthat nepetalactone might mimic the shape of pheromones when binding to the nasal receptors.
Regardless of the underlying reason, nepetalactone triggers an intense, intoxicated reaction in most cats.
“If you put catnip on a scratching board, a cat will come along and sniff it, and then they’ll start rubbing their face, then drooling, then rolling in it,” says Jeff Grognet, a veterinarian who’s previously written articles about the effects of catnip.
Nepetalactone isn’t the only chemical that triggers this sort of response in cats. Others includeactinidine and iridomyrmecin, which are both naturally found in various plants.
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Can I Give My Cat Catnip Every Day
Catnip is a non-toxic, non-addictive, and 100% safe treat to give to your pet. However, experts recommend that you only give this to your cat twice or thrice a week.
Although there should be no adverse side effects if you prefer to give your feisty furball a catnip treat once every day, cat specialists are concerned that this herb will lose its potency over your pet if given frequently.
It is possible that they will become desensitized over time and it wont produce the desired effects or happy sensation on your cat anymore.
Do All Cats Love Catnip
Not all cats behave the same way when they encounter catnip. While many become relaxed and happy, for some, the sense of euphoria can manifest itself as hyperactivity or even aggression. Other cats may have no reaction to catnip at all.
The causes behind this are both genetic and personality-driven. Firstly, sensitivity to catnip is inherited; some cats may not possess the genes that make them sensitive to its effects. Secondly, just as in humans, some cats may simply respond differently to a stimulus than others.
These differences will determine not only their emotional response , but may also affect what they do with the catnip .
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When To Pick Catnip
For your cats delight, the best time for picking catnip leaves is when the plants are flowering, around mid-summer. This is when the compounds that cats love most are at peak levels in the leaves. Harvest the leaves later in the day, when the dew has dried so you minimize the risks of the harvest getting moldy. Also, consider harvesting the flowers at this time.
Why Do Some Cats Not Respond
About 30% of domestic cats have absolutely no reaction to catnip. One MNT reader exclaimed that it has no effect on whatsoever!
Why does catnip affects some cats but not others? The difference, Siegel argues, lies in cat DNA. Some cats inherit the catnip sensitive gene, while others simply do not.
The reason for the failure of some cats to become even the least bit excited about catnip and for the exaggerated reaction of others is genetic, he writes.
Cats can inherit a dominant gene that guides the reaction to catnip, adds Siegel. He adds that some studies have demonstrated that the offspring of cats sensitive to catnip are also sensitive to this plant, and that those of cats with no reaction to it also will not respond.
In addition to this, he says, some felines may become avoidant of catnip if they have had a bad experience with it.
For instance, notes Siegel, if a feline has sniffed or chewed on catnip and then injured itself, in the future, it may turn around when encountering the plant, instead of jumping at the occasion of accessing the stimulant.
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Can You Give Your Kittens Catnip
Do you want to feed your kitty catnip, but are unsure about its safety? Are you concerned that it might have some adverse side effects on your friend? Then, read on to find out these answers and more.
Catnip, also variously referred to as catwort or catmint, is a fragrant herb of the mint family and as we all know, cats are known never to go crazy over this plant.
The lure to catnip is in its volatile oil, which contains a chemical compound known as nepetalactone. And this vaporous oil is found in the seeds, stems, and leaves of this weedy plant.
Does Catnip Have Any Effects On Cats?
Although the exact cause of catnips effects on cats is not yet known, it is believed that the genetic makeup of the cat determines whether or not it will be affected or be sensitive to this minty herb.;
However, studies posit that one in two cats inherits a sensitivity to catnip. For those felines that have a sensitivity to catnip, only a sniff or two of catnip send them into an intense mood of bliss, which is usually short-lived, lasting about 10 minutes for most cats. While for other cats, catnip makes them calm and relaxed. Also, for those cats that are sensitive to catnip, the euphoric feeling can easily translate to aggressive playfulness, until the effect wears off within minutes.
But, regardless of how your cat reacts to catnip, once the effect wears off, it will take another two hours before your cat can react to catnip again.
What About The Effects Of Catnip On Kittens?
How To Use It At Home
Catnip is commonly used to encourage cats to explore and play, but it can also be used as a training aid. Place a small amount of catnip on your cat’s scratching post to encourage scratching, or in their carrier to encourage them to enter, thereby creating a positive association. Catnip can be used in veterinary clinics, shelters, and foster homes in addition to a cat’s own home to help lower stress levels. Catnip is non-toxic to cats. Although rare, overindulgence can cause vomiting or diarrhea, so you may want to limit your cat’s exposure if she’s overly interested. Keep your cat happy and interested in their toys by rotating them: offer some toys as available and hide the rest in a ziplock bag or jar and marinate them in catnip. This keeps the toys novel and fun.;You can purchase catnip toys and dried catnip in most pet stores ; dried catnip does not contain as much nepetalactone oil as fresh catnip, so it tends to smell stronger and is still enticing to cats.
An even better suggestion: grow your own catnip. It’s easy to grow and can be found in most nurseries in the herb section. They are best planted in early spring and prefer sandy soil and full sun. For storing catnip, you can freeze in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
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