Get My Free Quote

What is Catnip?

by | May 19, 2020 | Pet Care

Sleepy looking brown cat

Pet owners and non-pet owners alike may have heard the term catnip being tossed around here and there. Many know that catnip is a much-desired product with the felines but are unsure as to the true components of catnip. We can help clear the mystery surrounding it!

When wondering what is catnip made of, you should know this herb, known as Nepeta cataria, is part of the mint family. With origins in Asia, Europe, and Africa, you can now find catnip pretty much anywhere around the globe. Nepetalactone is the essential oil found in the stem and leaves of catnip. This is the component that attracts cats.  

So, what effects does catnip for cats have on them, what is catnip used for, and are there any precautions associated with this herb? Let’s delve into these topics.

How Does Catnip Affect Cats?

Cat lying on white sheet

Catnip has many effects on cats but not all cats will be affected by catnip. The sensitivity related to nepetalactone is an inherited trait and it’s believed that only 50-75% of cats will react to it.

For cats that do react to catnip, they may exhibit different responses, from zipping around the room to staring dreamily into space as they lounge. Various factors will determine how your cat responds to catnip. These factors include:

  • Whether your cat sniffs or eats the catnip (sniffing the catnip produces a stimulant effect while ingesting it leads to a sedative effect)
  • The cat’s susceptibility to the effects of catnip
  • The age of your cat (young kittens are not affected by catnip)
  • The amount of catnip sniffed or consumed
  • The length of time between the current catnip experience and the prior one (catnip effects only last about 10-15 minutes and then the cat won’t be able to experience the effects again for a few hours)

Every cat is different and you’ll be able to see how your cat reacts to catnip once they try it.

Can Humans Use Catnip?

Cat parent kisses her cat

So, is catnip only for cats? No, catnip isn’t just for cats! This is important to know if you’re wondering if catnip is toxic to humans. Don’t worry, it isn’t.

Catnip has been used by humans as a natural medicine and relaxation herb. The Nepeta cataria can be used to make tea and has been said to help with headaches and nausea. So, if you’re wondering, is catnip edible for humans, the answer is yes. 

Some people who are unfamiliar with this plant may wonder, can catnip get you high. In a word, no. Basically, catnip is similar in properties to chamomile and acts as a sedative and relaxing agent. This herb can also be used as a natural mosquito repellent.

Is Catnip Dangerous?

Cat Plays with mouse toy

When considering can catnip hurt cats, pet owners will rest easy knowing that catnip is not dangerous for their beloved felines.It’s non-addictive and safe for cats. If you’re wondering can catnip make cats sick, they may get an upset stomach if they eat too much. This can cause vomiting or diarrhea, but they’ll be back to their frisky feline selves in no time at all. If this happens you may want to put the catnip away for awhile.

How much catnip is safe for cats depends on the individual cat, but you should err on the side of caution and provide catnip in moderation.

Will Catnip Hurt Dogs?

We’ve already covered that catnip is safe for humans, but will catnip hurt dogs? If you’re a cat and dog owner, and you’re wondering can catnip affect dogs, you’ll be interested to know that dogs can benefit from catnip as well, although it should be given in limited amounts.

Catnip will have a tranquilizing effect on your dog, but just be sure you don’t give them catnip toys to play as they will likely tear them apart. This will result in a dangerous situation for them if they happen to swallow the pieces. Instead, sprinkle a little catnip on a tennis ball that they play with. And, as always, consult with your veterinarian to be sure catnip usage is right for your pet.

Ways to Give Catnip to Your Cat

Shorthair stretches on sofa

When you’re ready to give catnip to your cat and help them relax or entertain them, there are a few ways to do so. Here are some of the ways to let your cat explore catnip and its many benefits:

  • Cat toys pre-filled with catnip
  • Cat toys that can be filled with catnip
  • Catnip plant (catnip in winter can be kept inside)
  • Loose catnip
  • Catnip spray

You might want to try a few different types of catnip products to see which one your cat likes the best.

Catnip is a Pet Product Your Cat is Likely to Enjoy

Cat stares at mouse toy

Cats love to be entertained and keeping them happy with a catnip toy, or some loose catnip sprinkled around the house is an excellent option. Now that you know how to keep your cat happy, it’s also important to keep them healthy. This is where a pet insurance policy can help!

Prudent Pet is a premier pet insurance provider and has the right insurance plan for your pet. You want to make sure your pet’s health and wellness needs are properly met, and by having a pet insurance policy in place, you can do so!

You never know when your pet is going to have an emergency, such as in the case of ingesting something they shouldn’t, or getting sick and needing to see the veterinarian. Pet insurance ensures that you’ll be able to afford the veterinarian visits when they arise.

As you contemplate pet insurance for your beloved furry family member, read about more ways to help your pet relax, such as CBD oil and how it can be used for pets.

Author Profile Image

Alice

Alice is the proud mama to her beautiful 3-year-old Labrador Retriever, Bella. Bella loves to cuddle up with Alice when she's reading a book on a cold Chicago night. No matter what the occasion is, Bella is always ready to pounce at the closest squirrel or rabbit when Alice runs with her along Lake Michigan in the summertime. When Bella's not tracking down random animals, she's taking a cozy nap or destroying toys left and right.