Why Are Cats Obsessed With Catnip
Have you ever given your cat a catnip toy and watched him go absolutely nuts? Maybe its made you wonder: Why do cats go so crazy for catnip? And is there such a thing as too much catnip?
It turns out that theres a natural substance in catnip that makes cats go wild for it, so all that rolling and rubbing is actually a normal physiological reaction.
The Dodo spoke to Dr. Stephanie Austin, a veterinarian at Bond Vet in New York City, to find out why cats are so obsessed with catnip.
Does Catnip Actually Get A Kitty High
The short answer? Yes. In humans, catnip can cause mild visual and auditory hallucinations so it is possible it does the same in cats, explains Angelica Dimock, DVM and Managing Shelter Veterinarian with the Animal Humane Society in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. Most commonly it acts as a stimulus for cats and they become more active or playful. Less commonly it can cause sedation or aggression.
How Do Cats React To Catnip
The first thing many owners notice when giving their cat some catnip is that they start acting in ways that help release nepetalactone. You might see your cat roll in a patch of catnip or start trying to eat it to get more into her system.
As the catnip hits her system, your cat might become hyperactive, running around the room and jumping on furniture or a favourite cat tree. Some cats start stretching and drooling while rolling around on the floor. Other cats have a more sedated reaction, becoming calm and relaxed after inhaling the potent scent of catnip. Essentially, the effects are different for each cat, so you can’t predict exactly how your pet might respond until you let her experience the joys of catnip for herself.
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My Final Thoughts On Is Giving Catnip To A Kitten Like Giving Marijuana To A Teenager
Can you give a kitten catnip? Ive known many owners who have. But should you? Well, probably not, although not for the reason you might think.
No studies have shown that catnip is harmful to kittens, and Ive never known a kitten to show signs of brain damage or other detrimental effects after exposure to it. But its best not to give it to your cat simply because its a waste of money if your cat cant enjoy it. Chances are that any catnip given to a kitten 6 months or younger wont have much of an effect on them. Save your dollars and give them a quality catnip when theyre older and can appreciate it.
One last thing: both cats and kittens may eat catnip from time to time. In small amounts this is perfectly safe but larger quantities can cause vomiting and upset stomach. Dont let your cat eat fresh or dry catnip and always keep it safely stored.
Why Do Cats Like Catnip
Whos that romping, rolling, and dashing around the house? Why, its your cat on catnip! If youve ever witnessed how a feline behaves when theres catnip nearby, then you know what were talking about. But why do cats like catnip so much?
The simple reason is that the leaves and stems of catnip have a certain scent that stimulates special receptors in a cats brain when they smell catnip. In most cases, catnip results in a sense of euphoria or overwhelming happiness for cats.
Catnip is a great treat that is sure to excite your feline friend every time they get a whiff of it. But lets take a closer look at what catnip is and what exactly it does!
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Top 5 Reasons Why Cats Love Catnip
So, why do cats go crazy over catnip? Cats enjoy the plant for many reasons, in addition to the euphoric feeling it causes. When a cat has a positive response to catnip, the plant-based substance can reduce anxiety, act as a pain reliever, and help with aggression problems. Here are the top 5 reasons why your cat loves catnip!
What Effects Does Catnip Have On My Cat
Catnip is a perennial herb from the mint family labiatae.
The term catnip is thought to originate from the response cats show towards the plant. It is the nepetalcataria variety that most cats enjoy.
What happens when my cat has catnip?
The active ingredient nepetalactone, is an essential oil which alters the behaviour of domestic and other cat species. Around half to two thirds of cats will respond to this oil. Kittens may not react and only develop the full behavioural change at an older age.
A typical response includes sniffing, chewing, licking, head shaking, followed by chin, cheek, and body rubbing. The body rolling is similar to oestrous patterns and has thought to be an aphrodisiac, but this is unlikely.
Additional responses may include stretching, drooling, jumping, licking, aggression, and hyperactivity. The so called “high” will usually last between five and ten minutes.
1. Is it harmful to my cat?No, cats wont overdose as they usually will refuse it once they have had enough.
2. How can I give it to my cat?
3. How much can I give?There is no specific dose. If dried just a sprinkle at a time on scratching posts/floors etc. Avoid feeding in their bowl – if you cat eats too much it can cause digestive problems.
Is Catnip Tea Safe For Cats
Catnip is not the sole reserve of felines. As per Natural Products Chemistry and Research, catnip has mild sedative qualities. The herb is often applied to human teas to aid sleep and relaxation.
As long as this tea is caffeine-free, its safe for cats. Obviously, it needs to cool down first. Never offer a cat hot tea. You also cannot add milk or sugar.
This drink may be helpful to encourage fussy cats to hydrate. Its better than dropping catnip in water. As much as cats will like the scent, catnip will taint the water from their perspective.
Can Catnip Be Bad For Cats
Yes, but they would have to ingest A LOT of catnip, points out Dr. Dimock. Gastrointestinal issues, like vomiting or diarrhea, are the most common symptoms. Most of the time, these symptoms go away on their own as the plant is metabolized, she says. In severe cases, the cat could show neurologic signs such as stupor, stumbling, pupil size changes, and/or tremors. In the unlikely event that these neurological symptoms happened to your cat, Dr. Dimock says you need to contact your vet, who can help provide supportive care until your cat is on the mend.
Dr. Dimock also advises keeping catnip away from pregnant cats. Catnip should not be used on pregnant cats since it can cross into the placenta and may affect the kittens. She also suggests you keep catnip away from cats who experience seizures, since catnip has been found to cause seizures in rats, and its possible cats could be similarly affected.
Lastly, while there is no real consensus on how frequently to give catnip to a cat, Dr. Dimock recommends keeping it to about once a week. Using it more frequently may cause the cat to become desensitized to catnip, she explains. And no cat wants that!
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Why Spay/neuter Is So Important For Cats
While there might be some differing opinions about the proper age to spay or neuter your cat, theres no disputing that its one of the most responsible things a pet owner can do, not only for the life of a pet, but also to reduce pet overpopulation. Too often, we view spaying and neutering through our own eyes, and how it might affect us, and assume that our pets would look at it the same way. As Coates puts it, physiologically and behaviorally speaking, cats are made to reproduce as frequently as possible. Obviously, we have to put a stop to that. I think it is more humane to surgically eliminate the desire to mate than to block mating but leave the urge intact.
Of course no medical or surgical procedure is without risk, she adds. For instance, neutered male cats are at higher risk for developing urinary blockages, and cats who have been spayed or neutered do have a tendency to gain weight if their diets arent adjusted accordingly. Owners should always talk to their own veterinarian about what is best for their particular pet, but the benefits of spay/neuter almost always outweigh the risks.
It is our responsibility to take care of our pets to the best of our ability, Denish says. They live in our world, our homes and interact with our family and other pets. That means that if spaying/neutering is beneficial, it should be done at any safe time.
How To Use A Catnip Plant
A catnip plant is the easiest and most effective way to offer catnip. Grow your own or purchase the leaves from a pet store.
If you grow your own catnip, pluck the leaves and leave them to dry out. Once this process is complete, you can crumble them up. Place this powder in a plastic bag, and you have catnip.
This fine powder can now be sprinkled wherever you need it. Apply it to possessions, or just let your cat eat or smell it. If you choose the latter, avoid messy or dirty floors. Your cat may eat or inhale dangerous foreign objects.
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Can Humans Have Catnip
Catnip has actually been used in human medicine for a long time, particularly for its sedative effects, though its effectiveness is mostly anecdotal. It may also help with headaches.
It has also been used as a traditional medicine to heal toothaches since catnip has antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can help with infection.
Here are some of the best ways to take advantage of catnips health benefits for yourself:
- Make tea from the dried leaves or flowers. You can even buy tea thats already prepared from catnip.
- Use catnip essential oil in a diffuser or apply it to your forehead for a headache.
So theres a reason most cats go crazy for catnip, and its OK for you to give your cat catnip as a regular toy or treat. Just dont let your cat go too crazy.
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Are Catnip Toys Safe For Cats
Catnip toys are safe and recommended. Almost any toy from a pet store will be covered in catnip. This is what encourages felines to hunt and play with them.
If your cat has lost interest in a once-treasured toy, it has likely lost its catnip scent. This is easily resolved. Place the toy in a jar and surround it with catnip leaves. Leave the toy in this vessel overnight.
In the morning, remove the toy and brush off any loose catnip. Present it to your cat. You will likely find that the toy gives your cat a new lease of life.
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How Long Do The Effects Of Catnip Last
The catnip euphoria will usually last 10-15 minutes, depending on how sensitive your cat is to the chemical. After this short period, your cat will move on to other activities and trying to give them more will not produce a response. It usually takes about 2 hours for their senses to reset to detect the catnip again and feel its effects.
What Is Catnip And What Does It Do
Catnip is a plant that is part of the mint family and contains an oil that is known as nepetalactone. When cats smell nepetalactone, a chemical response is produced in their brains.
This causes pheromones to be released, which ultimately make your cat feel really, really good! Catnip can be given to your cat in many forms, from fresh and dried catnip to catnip sprays and catnip toys.
Different cats elicit different reactions to catnip, meaning not all cats are affected by the substance in similar manners. Some cats are affected by catnip in a way where one whiff of the scent will target receptors in their brain, often making them act happy, hyper, and goofy.
When other cats eat catnip, the substance will elicit a more sedative response, causing these cats to mellow out, roll around, zone out, and rub themselves against objects. The sedative mood will usually last about ten minutes, and after that, your cat will likely go right back to their normal self again.
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Can My Cat Get Sick From Catnip
While its perfectly safe for your cat to ingest catnip, it is possible for a cat to become ill from eating too much catnip.
What does sickness from eating too much catnip look like? Vomit or diarrhea.
Yup, thats it! And once your cat stops eating catnip and is given a little time to recover, all the symptoms of overdosing, so to speak, will disappear. Again, catnip has no lasting effects.
At What Age Can Cats Start Playing With Catnip Toys
Ive heard that kittens shouldnt have catnip toys. At what age can my kitten start playing with things that have catnip in them?Hi there catnip and toys are a great treat for all cats. Every cat responds differently to catnip. Some cats find it makes them feel euphoric and others angry. However, very young kittens may not respond to it until they are little older if they possess the gene for it.
CATNIP: contains a substance called cis-transnepetalactone which when inhaled or eaten is thought to be hallucinogenic through the stimulation of centres in the brainit gives some cats a europhoric high. Not all cats are responsive to catnip and heres why:
1. Reaction to catnip is genetic . Cats must possess a gene for it. While most cats do, about 15 percent reportedly do not. Kittens, whether they possess the gene or not, generally do not react to catnip until they are from six to nine months old. Try reintroducing the catnip then and you will probably find that your cat will greatly enjoy it. If your cat is an adult, you may have one of the few adult cats that do not possess the gene.
2. Inferior quality catnip. Many other catnip brands are “cut” with straw, stems and other filler. This may fool the cat owner, but it doesnt fool kitty! Try some Certified Organic Catnip or fresh Catnip.
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How Does Catnip Affect Cats
The effects of catnip have been observed, not only in domestic cats but also in big cats that live in captivity. And most of these effects are relatively the same.
These effects can be attributed to nepetalactone, a volatile oil that can be found in greater concentrations in the herbs leaves, stems, seeds, and to a lesser extent, the roots and flowers.
Nepetalactone is a psychoactive substance. Psychoactive substances are substances that affect how the brain works. These substances can also alter a creatures feelings and behavior.
Cats that are sensitive to catnip exhibit a variety of behaviors when they sniff the herb. These include euphoria, zoomies, affection, staring blankly into the distance, and rolling on the floor.
The effect of ingestion is remarkably different. When your cat eats catnip, he will become sedate and calm.
However, there are a few exceptions. In some cats, catnip can lower a felines inhibitions and bring out aggression.
Take note that catnip does not affect all cats. According to experts, about 70 percent of cats are sensitive to catnip and its effects. The reason behind this is genetics. If a cat is sensitive to the herb, its offspring will also be sensitive to it.
Can Kittens Have Catnip
Interestingly, research suggests that kittens and young cats may not respond to catnip until they reach maturity. This may be due to an underdeveloped vomeronasal organ, the scent analyzer, in cats. Some kittens may even find catnip unpleasant until they reach adulthood. Since kittens are already pretty active and find ways to easily entertain themselves, there’s really no need to introduce catnip at that early of an age.
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What Is The Best Form Of Catnip To Give My Cat
Just like with any herb, fresh is best. Catnip is easy to grow, but invasive, so you might consider growing it in a pot or a planter with other cat favorites such as wheatgrass.
Dried catnip is also extremely effective, though the essential oils tend to lose their power over time. Sprays tend to not contain enough nepetalactone to really get your kitty going.
What Are The Benefits Of Catnip
Catnip can be a great boredom buster most cats adore playing with catnip-infused toys or rolling around in a catnip plant.
You can also use catnip as a training aid. If youre struggling with your cat displaying unwanted behaviors, such as scratching furniture, try rubbing a little catnip onto your cats scratching post regularly, to encourage them to scratch there instead.
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Why Does Catnip Affect Cats
In his book Intoxication: The Universal Drive for Mind-Altering Substances, psychopharmacologist Ronald Siegel estimates that around 70% of domestic cats respond to catnip, and that those who do have reached sexual maturity. Cats reach sexual maturity at around 6 months of age.
Cats who react to catnip will sniff the plant, or any toys that contain it, and then start chewing on it. Following this, they may start rubbing their head against the plant or toy, and then roll or flip from side to side.
Both of love it, and it makes them go crazy, one reader told Medical News Today. likes to lick it, then she attacks the toy its on, often adopting the bunny leg attack. goes more soppy with it, often rolling around with the toy in his paws, they said.
Although in most cases, when it does affect them, catnip stimulates cats in a pleasurable way, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals deem it toxic to cats. They warn that some domestic felines may experience adverse reactions after coming into contact with this plant. These effects can include vomiting and diarrhea, as well as states of sedation.
Some cats may even become aggressive when they encounter the plant. Another reader told MNT that she avoids giving her cat any catnip for this very reason. just gets a bit like she wants to fight me starts punching my foot, they said.