Do you ever wonder why cats go crazy over catnip? Even the laziest cat can go nuts over catnip. Catnip is an herb that belongs in the mint family that is native to Africa, Europe and Asia. What makes cats go ballistic over catnip is the essential oil that it contains, nepetalactone. This compound is highly attractive to cats and can give them a feeling of euphoria that can last from 10 minutes to 2 hours.
However, not all cats will be affected by catnip. The sensitivity of catnip is inherited which means that some cats will not care for catnip at all while others will love it. Kittens are not affected by it, and the specific gene will not fully develop until the cat is 6 months old. About 50 percent of cats will not have a reaction towards this plant.
When and Why to Use Catnip
As much as a stimulant it can be, there are other benefits of catnip as well. When ingested, catnip can act as a sedative to help relieve stress, especially in an unfamiliar environment. Shelters and humane societies often use catnip to allow the cat to feel more relaxed in a new setting. Catnip can be used to train and modify certain behaviors as well. If your cat has a recurring problem of destroying your furniture, sprinkle some catnip over their cat scratchers and living spaces to draw more attention to what belongs to them. Hopefully the cats find these areas more attractive than your living room couch!
Watching your cat play with catnip can be very entertaining to watch. You’ll see them rolling around, rubbing their faces, and prancing around when they get a whiff of nepetalactone. A single scratch against fresh catnip will release a powerful oil that will cause your cat to react. The cats will play and chew its leaves and stems to release more nepetalactone. You can purchase fresh catnip at the pet store. Since it is easy to maintain, you can simply grow it at home!
As for dry catnip, a sprinkle of this can make a cat go crazy! Dry catnip typically contains the leaves and flowers of the plant. Depending on the freshness and how potent the catnip is, the response to it will be the same. Cat toys that contain this can keep the kitty entertained for hours. They will paw at the toy, chew on it, rub against it, chase after it, and play with it. Dry catnip is especially fun for indoor cats as it helps stimulate their natural instincts. This can also be used on top of cat scratchers.
When the cat is exposed to catnip, the euphoric feeling will eventually die off. After a few hours, they will come back to the catnip and become interested in it once again. Cats should be given catnip in limited amounts; once or twice a week is enough to keep your kitty satisfied and happy.