Cats and catnip just go together.
Here, you’ll read about your cats love of catnip, what it is and what it can do.
You’ll get some understanding how catnip works, why cats enjoy it, and if there’s such a thing as your cat having too much catnip. We’ll also take a look at catnip for humans.
What Is Catnip?
Catnip is a common herb. It’s a member of the mint family. The smell of catnip is a pungent, minty aroma.
It grows in Europe, Asia, and North America. It’s a common plant. Typically green, but can be different colors. Depending on the variety.
The leaves of catnip have been used to make tea, and the flowers are said to relieve coughs. I found out that it is an ingredient in a few of the natural bug sprays. I will be testing that out!
What does catnip do to cats?
One thing that’s remarkable is that cat owners give their cats recreational drugs – Catnip. Catnip is a psychoactive drug.
Catnip is interesting. It makes cats act like freaks. They roll on the ground. Sometimes drooling. And wipe their face into the catnip wherever it has been sprinkled.
The plant produces a chemical called nepetalactone in micro bulbs that coat the leaves, the stems, and seedpods. The bulbs break open and release the nepetalactone.
How catnip affects cats
Cats get high off catnip by inhaling this released nepetalactone. A live plant, dried plant or an oil extract is used. “This chemical binds to the receptors inside the cat’s nose and stimulate sensory neurons that lead into the brain.” Quoted from Vox.com by Joseph Stromberg. 12/20/2014.
Regardless of the science behind it the nepetalactone triggers a reaction in most cats that intoxicates them. Appears to be safe and they don’t develop a tolerance to it after repeated use.
They look like they have a sense of euphoria, and then calmness. It’s like they’re a bit buzzed. And for about 30 minutes after, they are in a stupor.
Does Catnip Work on All Cats?
Not all cats will respond to catnip. Around 70% to 80% are affected. (I’ve also seen 60% quoted). And the trait is passed on genetically. Lots of wild cats, big cats, like lions and tigers, are also susceptible.
How Long Do the Effects of Catnip Last?
Catnip effects vary in length. It depends on the cat. Usually, it will last for around 10 minutes and then wear off. The cat needs to be away from the catnip for about 30 minutes for it to work again.
Catnip does lose its potency over time. Keep it in an airtight container for maximum freshness and maximum kitty high.
Can Kittens Have Catnip?
Kittens can have catnip, but most young cats don’t react to catnip until they are over 6 months old – up to 1 year.
Of course, there will be some cats that are an exception to this, as they will slowly increase their sensitivity over the years.
Cats Eat Catnip? Is It Safe?
Cats can ingest catnip. It may be helpful for their digestive tract. But don’t let them eat too much. It could upset their stomach.
Too much catnip can cause problems in cats, such as vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, or having trouble walking. Use just a little at a time, and always discuss the correct amount for your cat with your veterinarian.
Fresh catnip is more potent of course than dried. You won’t need as much of it. Also, the recommendation is to avoid highly concentrated catnip oils because of their potency. Anything for your cat and especially essential oils should be discussed with your Vet prior to using them.
Serve it up – Catnip Options
Catnip is available in different forms:
- • Fresh catnip (you can grow it)
- • Dried catnip
- • Catnip sprays
- • Toys stuffed with dried catnip
Catnip sprays are a good option for cats that get an upset stomach from eating the plant. You can spray your cat’s toy, tree or cat scratcher. You can also use fresh or dried catnip sprinkled the cat’s things.
Humans Have Used Catnip
Catnip doesn’t have the same sort of impact on us, because our systems and brains are different. But it may have other benefits.
In the 1600s, Europeans used the plant as a mild sedative. They brewed tea with the leaves and making juice from them. They even smoked or chewed them. At other times in catnip history, it was believed to cure colic in infants. And ease excessive flatulence, hives, and toothaches in adults.
It has another positive use. In the 60s it was discovered that catnip’s active chemical acts as a mosquito repellant. It’s said to be powerful but it wears off quickly. You can test it out as an alternative to chemical repellant. Catnip-based mosquito repellants are still available.
I couldn’t find much research on this subject, but there may be mild health benefits to drinking catnip tea. It’s been used for restlessness, calming nerves, coughs, asthma, gas and diarrhea.
But always check with your health care provider/specialist on this information to be sure it’s safe for you to consume. I’m not a health care provider and am sharing what I’ve found on the internet. Check with your doctor. So with that clearly said:
Potential Health Benefits of Catnip Tea
Catnip tea may help in the following ways:
Better Sleep – it may help relax the body.
Reduced Nervousness and Anxiety
Less Gas and Stomach Cramps
Catnip is reported to be used for diarrhea, gas, and stomach cramps.
Potential Risks of Catnip Tea
People have been drinking catnip tea for a very long time, and it’s likely safe to consume. But, we really don’t know much about how this plant affects human health. But there are always some potential risks to consider.
If you combine catnip tea with sleeping medication it maybe too much. This can also occur with catnip while using hops, kava, valerian, or St. John’s wort. Also avoid drinking catnip tea before driving or operating any machinery.
Upset Stomach and Vomiting
You might have an upset stomach after drinking catnip tea. While some people may drink catnip tea to relieve digestive problems it can also upset your stomach. Stop drinking the tea if it doesn’t help your stomach. People have also been reported to vomit from drinking too much catnip tea.
If you’re allergic to things in the mint family, you may also have an allergic reaction to catnip.
Sedative herbs like catnip can and may interact with some medications. For example:
- • Anticonvulsants
- • Barbiturates
- • Benzodiazepines
- • Tricyclic antidepressants
- • Over-the-counter cough and cold medications that contain diphenhydramine or doxylamine
- • Insomnia drugs
As always, consult your feline and human health care specialist before adding catnip into your cat’s and your lifestyle.