What is Catnip and Why Do Cats Love It?

What is Catnip – If you have a cat, you may have heard of catnip or seen your furry friend go crazy over it. But what is catnip and why do cats love it so much? In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will also give you some tips on how to use catnip safely and effectively for your cat’s health and happiness.

What is Catnip?

Catnip is an herb and a member of the mint family. It has green leaves, white flowers, and a strong, minty smell. Catnip is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and it can grow wild or be cultivated in gardens.

Catnip is known for its medicinal qualities, such as relieving stress, anxiety, insomnia, and digestive problems in humans. It can also be used as a mosquito repellent.

But catnip is most famous for its effects on cats. Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which stimulates the pleasure-related receptors in a cat’s brain, leading to a state of relaxation and contentment.

Why Do Cats Love Catnip?

Why Do Cats Love Catnip

Catnip mimics feline sex hormones, so cats enjoying this substance will often display behaviors similar to a female cat in heat (although both male and female cats can experience the effects). These behaviors can include:

  • Rolling on the floor
  • Rubbing their face and body on the catnip
  • Purring and meowing loudly
  • Drooling and licking
  • Kicking and biting
  • Chasing and pouncing
  • Becoming more playful and friendly

These effects usually last for about 10 minutes, after which the cat becomes immune to the catnip for a few hours. Not all cats react to catnip, though. About 50% of cats are genetically predisposed to respond to catnip, while the other 50% are indifferent to it. The sensitivity to catnip also depends on the age and personality of the cat. Kittens under six months old and senior cats are less likely to react to catnip, while more active and curious cats are more likely to enjoy it.

How to Use Catnip for Your Cat?

How to Use Catnip for Your Cat

Catnip can be a great way to enrich your cat’s life and provide them with some fun and stimulation. However, you need to use it wisely and moderately to avoid any potential problems. Here are some tips on how to use catnip for your cat:

  1. Choose high-quality catnip. Look for organic, fresh, and potent catnip that has a strong smell and a green color. Avoid catnip that has a lot of stems, seeds, or dust, as these can reduce the effectiveness and cause choking hazards.
  2. Give your cat a small amount of catnip. A pinch or two of dried catnip or a few sprigs of fresh catnip is enough to trigger a reaction in most cats. You can sprinkle some catnip on your cat’s bed, scratching post, toys, or treats, or you can make a catnip tea and spray it on your cat’s favorite spots. You can also grow your own catnip plant and let your cat nibble on it occasionally.
  3. Monitor your cat’s reaction. Observe how your cat behaves when exposed to catnip and make sure they are having a good time. Some cats may become aggressive or overexcited when under the influence of catnip, so you may need to separate them from other cats or people. If your cat shows any signs of discomfort, such as sneezing, vomiting, or diarrhea, stop giving them catnip and consult your vet.
  4. Limit the frequency of catnip. Catnip can lose its effect if given too often, so you should only give your cat catnip once or twice a week. This will keep the experience novel and exciting for your cat and prevent them from becoming bored or addicted to it.


Catnip is a natural and harmless herb that can provide your cat with some entertainment and relaxation. However, you need to use it properly and responsibly to ensure your cat’s safety and well-being. By following the tips above, you can make catnip a part of your cat’s routine and enjoy watching them have a blast.


Can catnip harm my cat?

Catnip is generally safe and non-toxic for cats, as long as it is used in moderation and with caution. However, some cats may have allergic reactions or digestive issues from catnip, so you should always monitor your cat’s response and consult your vet if you notice any problems.

Can I give my cat other herbs besides catnip?

There are some other herbs that can have similar effects on cats as catnip, such as silver vine, valerian, and honeysuckle. However, these herbs may not be as widely available or as well-studied as catnip, so you should do your research and check with your vet before giving them to your cat.

How can I store catnip to keep it fresh and potent?

You can store catnip in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place, such as a cupboard or a drawer. You can also freeze catnip to preserve its freshness and potency for longer.

How can I tell if my cat likes catnip or not?

The easiest way to tell if your cat likes catnip or not is to observe their behavior when exposed to it. If your cat shows signs of excitement, pleasure, or relaxation, such as rolling, rubbing, purring, or drooling, then they probably like catnip. If your cat shows signs of indifference, annoyance, or discomfort, such as walking away, hissing, or sneezing, then they probably don’t like catnip.

Can I give my cat catnip as a reward or a training tool?

Catnip can be used as a reward or a training tool for your cat, as long as you don’t overdo it or rely on it too much. You can use catnip to encourage your cat to use their scratching post, play with their toys, or perform a trick. However, you should also use other rewards, such as praise, petting, or treats, to reinforce your cat’s positive behavior and avoid creating a dependency on catnip.

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