The Effects of Catnip on CatsMarch 10, 2022
If you are a cat owner, you probably know just how much cats love catnip. The fragrant herb known as catnip originates from Asia, Africa, and Europe. Also known as field balm, catmint, and catwort, catnip has a lemony, minty scent that is simply irresistible to cats. In fact, some research shows that almost every type of cat enjoys catnip due to the euphoric feeling they get when they are around it. Still, you may be wondering what the effects of catnip are on cats? Additionally, is catnip safe? We’ll address all of this and more with the information below.
The Effects of Catnip
It may be funny to think of your pet getting a euphoric high, but that is essentially what happens when cats sniff catnip. The seeds, leaves, and stems of catnip are naturally infused with the oil “nepetalactone”, which helps stimulate cats’ pheromones. This results in an overwhelming sense of elation. With just a couple of whiffs, cats enter a state of total bliss.
While catnip is beloved by most cats, not all cats respond to it. Younger kittens and older cats are less likely to be affected by catnip. Additionally, genetics play a role in whether or not cats like catnip. Their receptivity and sensitivity to the herb can usually be determined when cats are between three to six months old. According to experts, approximately one in two cats are sensitive to catnip.
Fun fact: Did you know that most Australian cats are usually not affected by catnip because they lack the gene that stimulates the sense of euphoria?
How cats react to catnip is another story. Some cats become aggressively playful and rambunctious, while others mellow out and calm down.
Catnip Can be Used as in Toys and for Training
Since cats have been proven to repeatedly respond to catnip, it is often used as an effective training aid to help reinforce positive behavior in the home. For example, if you want to prevent your feline from scratching furniture at home, consider rubbing a scratching post incorporated with the herb to make it more attractive and appealing. If you recently bought a new cat bed and want your pet to adapt to sleeping on it, it might be useful to sprinkle some of the herb on top so your cat will be drawn to the bed. Additionally, catnip can be great for new cats getting acclimated to new environments. Giving them catnip may help ease feelings of anxiety.
Many cat toys contain catnip, making it easy for owners to incorporate the herb into regular playtime. If you’re looking for a DIY solution, however, you can make catnip toys yourself!
How to Make Your Own Catnip Cat Toy:
1. Take a clean sock and sprinkle a bunch of catnip inside.
2. Tie a knot at the opening of the sock and you have a DIY cat toy!
Another option is to make a cat crinkle toy with catnip. All you need to do is put catnip inside a crumpled paper bag and scrunch it into a ball. Before you know it, they’ll be keeping themselves entertained and amused for hours to come!
The Type of Catnip Matters
How your feline friend reacts to catnip boils down to how much nepetalactone is in it. Toys that have a higher nepetalactone content tend to garner a positive reaction in cats, helping them positively associate behaviors with rewards. Most people find that it does not matter whether the catnip is fresh or dried. Catnip sprays, however, may be less effective as they tend to contain low nepetalactone levels.
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