Your Catnip FAQs Answered

Does your feline friend enjoy catnip? If you’ve ever witnessed a cat who has just been given catnip, you know just how much our cats love their favorite plant! Many people don’t know much about this fascinating aspect of our cat’s lives—learn more here from your Coon Rapids, MN veterinary professional.

What is Catnip, Anyway?
Catnip is an herb. It’s classified in the same “plant family” as mint. Catnip originated in Europe, but has since been spread all over the world and can now be found in most places across North America. The wild catnip plant is a leafy green, with white flowers that contain distinct purple spots.

Of course, the catnip you’ll purchase in a pet store is quite different. It’s a dried and processed version of the plant, and it looks much like oregano or basil flakes in your spice cabinet. You can also purchase catnip-infused toys, as well as catnip sprays and other products.

How Do Cats Typically React?
There are several ways that cats may react when exposed to catnip; it all depends on the particular cat. Some might run around the room excitedly; others will rub their faces and bodies vigorously in the area where catnip was sprinkled. Still other cats might simply spread out on their backs, limbs spread wide, and remain in a state of ecstasy.

Why Does Catnip Affect Our Feline Friends?
The oils of the catnip plant contain a chemical substance known as nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is the chemical compound that causes the reaction in your cat’s brain. Many experts believe that it elicits a type of sexual response in your cat; it’s almost like a cat aphrodisiac!

Depending on the type of catnip presented to your feline friend, the impact of the chemical may be lessened. Raw catnip is typically the most potent form, while catnip toys and similar products likely won’t cause as robust of a reaction.

Is Catnip Dangerous in Any Way?
No, catnip is not dangerous. The chemical reaction is not harmful in any way—cats cannot overdose or become addicted. Feel free to offer your pet catnip as often as you’d like!

Why Isn’t Fluffy Reacting?
If your cat isn’t reacting to catnip, there’s no need for alarm. Cats require a gene, inherited from their parents, to feel catnip’s effect. Without it, they won’t feel anything!

To learn more, call your Coon Rapids, MN veterinary clinic.


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