What does catnip do to cats?

Do you want to give your cat a catnip but not sure what will happen? This article will help you figure out what it does to out purring friends and if it’s harmful or not.

catnip and cats

A lot of people have an idea that the cats get high when they smell or eat catnip but is it really true? The studies show that most of the things people consider true about catnip and cats actually don’t make any sense at all.

It’s obviously true that our loved pets start to behave really weird when they are around this grass. However, it’s not an actual drug and the cats are surely not ‘stoned’.

It contains valerian so the cats get really crazy sometimes. The animals can’t get addicted to it. Moreover, there is no chance cats will overdose and die because of it.

What is catnip?

In order to answer the question what does catnip do to cats we need to first figure out what it is. Catnip is an herb out of the mint family. Scientists usually use the term Nepeta cataria when they talk about it.

It can be mostly found in Europe because of the mild climate that makes it possible for it to grow. People usually say catnip or catmint when they refer to this herb.

catnip and cats

It’s a very interesting fact that it also blossoms from time to time and has beautiful but kind of small white flowers. The plant looks amazing during summer. Moreover, it also smells really nice.

How does it affect the health?

This herb is great for the nervous system – it stimulates it and helps you if you have a lot of stress. What is more, nepetalactone can be found in catnip. It is a component that is responsible for sedation.

When the cat has a contact with the plant it affects its olfactory receptors. This fact explains why cats start behaving really crazy when they are around it.

Many cats actually start hallucinating which causes such a weird behaviour. But it doesn’t mean that all the cats behave the same way. Scientists say that a lot depends on heredity.

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If the cat just smells the herb the reaction is totally different than if it licks it. There is a simple explanation to that. There is a lot of oil contained in catnip and when the cat touches it with its tongue more oil is released.

This way the cats get even crazier. The period of “being high” usually lasts less than an hour so you don’t have to worry that your cat will stay that mad forever. All the studies show that it’s not really dangerous for your pet.

When can I find it?

If you are looking for catnip, it can easily be found any time of the year. You can grow it yourself if you want to. Some people prefer to plant some of the herb in their garden which is a great option.

But you will surely need to take care of it as it requires a lot of attention. If you want to find the leaves and the flowers then the best time to do it is obviously summer when the plant blossoms.

catnip and cats

Catnip will definitely need a lot of light and the soil must be quite sandy. You can also try growing it in different conditions but there is no guarantee it will grow up healthy.

Another important question is why do we even need this herb? Well, since it can’t do any harm to your cat it’s a good idea to occupy them with something.

The problem with that is that cats get bored quickly and when they have nothing to do they usually start scratching and breaking the things around them.

Therefore, if you are the owner of the cat you might consider getting some catnip so that your cat is only going crazy for 30 minutes a day.

It’s very interesting to look at the cat that is licking or even just smelling this herb. After a while cats get tired and go to sleep.

More effects on cats

The statistics show that not every cat will react the same way. There are even pets that would have no reaction whatsoever. Therefore, effects of catnip are really different. Scientists believe that it’s all about heredity.

catnip and cats

If the parents and the grandparents of the cat also got ‘high’ when they were next to the catnip, it means that the cat itself will have the same reaction! And it might be not known to you but people aren’t really different.

If one person takes certain kind of drug or even just alcohol it will take them different time to get drunk/high. And the effects might be completely different too.

Some people will get crazy and start to panic, others will just relax. And there certainly will be people who don’t feel anything at all. And that’s absolutely normal as our physiology and heredity is responsible for these factors.

Another exciting fact is that the reason why your cat remains calm next to the herb is because it’s too young. Little kittens usually don’t feel anything. All in all, at least the minty smell is attractive to both people and pets.

But can’t the cats overdose?

It’s a very interesting question that a lot of people are not sure about. ‘Is catnip a drug?’ is asked by many people too but we already stated that it’s just a misconception.

The cats usually feel when they’ve had enough of this herb so they won’t be trying to lick more than they have already done. It barely never happens that a cat overdoses because they, like all animals, have instincts.

The worst thing that could happen to them is diarrhea. But again, it’s not common. For all these reasons, vets say that we are free to give our purring friends some catnip. Nothing bad is going to happen.

Moreover, both of us will enjoy it.

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