Does your cat like catnip (aka catmint, catwort, field balm)? Whether it is a wild or domestic feline, even lion, tigers and panthers just can't seem to get enough of this fragrant herb. But why is that? Is it safe? Does it mean your cat is not really a cat if he doesn’t like it?
Originally from Europe and Asia, minty, lemony, potent catnip -- Nepeta cataria -- has long been associated with cats. Even its Latin-derived cataria means "of a cat." And research shows that cats big and small adore this weedy, invasive member of the mint family.
So after careful research I discovered that a cat's genetics determines whether your feline friend falls for this cousin to basil and oregano. About one cat in two inherits a sensitivity to the herb. But you won't know if your kitten is one of them until sometime between ages 3 and 6 months.
Catnip's allure is in its volatile oil, specifically one chemical in that oil -- nepetalactone. Found in catnip's leaves, stems, and seeds, it only takes one or two sniffs of that wonder oil before susceptible felines are licking, chewing, and rolling head-over-tail in kitty bliss.
Though intense, that bliss is usually short-lived, lasting about 10 minutes for most cats. For some, the euphoria translates into aggressive playfulness. At the same time, it makes others mellow and calm. But no matter what reaction your cat has, once the pleasure passes it'll be about two hours before kitty responds to catnip again.
The fact that cats do respond to catnip again and again, makes this a truly “special herb” to be used to both enrich its life as well as assist with training your cat (rub on scratching posts or kitty cushions to make them more appealing than furniture). For simple enrichment toys sprinkle a bit of the herb into an old sock, then knot the top. Or put a big pinch of catnip in a small paper bag and crush the bag into a tight ball.
The intensity of kitty's response to toys and training will be affected by the type of catnip you use. While most cats enjoy the herb dried or fresh, they're usually less interested in catnip sprays, which generally don't contain enough nepetalactone to appeal to most felines. Catnip's potency doesn't last forever; the essential oils quickly dissipate. So if you buy dried catnip store what you don't use in the freezer.
Catnip is non-addictive and safe to eat and this wonder plant is easy to grow in a sunny window (and will distract your cat from your other plants!). So catnip away to give your cat happy cat naps! My name is Spirit. I am a lovely female orange tabby of about 1 ½ years young. I am very energetic and love to run around inside the Second Chance Cat Castle. I enjoy treats, tuna, and yes - catnip. Although I am very sweet and loving to humans I tend to play a bit too rough with other cats – so I would suggest you just adopt me and me alone – I am all the furry purry loving you will need.