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What You Should Know About Catnip

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by Alexander Thompson
Aug 10, 2022
2 minute read
TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • What Is Catnip?
  • How Does Catnip Work?
  • Does Catnip Harm Cats?
  • How Long Does Catnip Lasts?
  • Conclusion
Although a lot of people are familiar with catnip, they don't understand the type of plant it is or how the science behind its effects on cats' moods and behavior.
Fortunately, this article discusses catnip and answers questions about how it works.

What Is Catnip?

Catnip, known as Nepeta cataria, is a perennial herb native to Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and some areas of China. The plant belongs to the mint family, Labiatae, and it has several traits of the common mint. Catnip has green-brown leaves with saw-toothed edges and flowers. The flowers bloom from late spring into the autumn, and the plant can grow up to three feet tall.
a cat holds a catnip
The catnip plant is drought-tolerant, deer resistant, and a mosquito deterrent. Therefore, people often incorporate it in gardens. Furthermore, catnip attracts butterflies and cats. So, even if you don't have a garden, you can grow fresh plants in your home and purchase dehydrated plant pieces, catnip-stuffed toys, and sprays.

How Does Catnip Work?

Cats have a vomeronasal gland in their month's roof, which is an extra scent organ. This extra organ is a special pathway that passes scents collected in the nose and mouth to the brain.
Catnip causes behavioral changes in cats because of the nepetalactone oil found within the plant's leaves. Cats get exposed to this substance whenever they smell the catnip.
Catnip also mimics feline sex hormones. So, when male and female cats enjoy this substance, they display behaviors similar to a female cat in heat. Female cats in heat are overly affectionate, relaxed, and happy. They also display active behaviors, including playfulness and, in some cases, aggression.
a cat eats catnip
Cats that experience something positive with catnip experience pain relief and reduced anxiety.
Some veterinarians even recommend using catnip if your cat is home alone for an extended period because the substance helps with separation anxiety.

Does Catnip Harm Cats?

Although about half the population of cats love the smell of grass blades and like scratching, not all cats must eat catnip to maintain health.
Catnip is, in fact, a hallucinogenic plant that causes temporary behavioral changes in plants after eating. These changes include delirium, rolling, rubbing, chewing, sneezing, meowing, etc. Some cats even chase fantasy kicks after consuming the substance, while others sit and stare blankly. Fortunately, catnip does not cause any harm to cats, and neither is it addictive. Generally, catnip does not help or harm cat health substantially.

How Long Does Catnip Lasts?

Catnip causes various strange reactions in cats, similar to the effects of drugs like marijuana on people. Nevertheless, research shows that catnip does not have addictive effects on cats. Instead, cats smelling this substance usually return to normal after 5 to 15 minutes and tend to lose interest in plants. The longest addiction time to catnip is usually no more than an hour.
a cat eats catnip
After initial intoxication, it takes at least 2 hours for a cat to be interested in catnip. Although this plant is natural and harmless, cats are irresistibly attracted to it. Therefore, people use the plant as a magic weapon to deal with naturally loose and free cats. Besides fresh plants, navy professional cat toys contain compound chemical fragrances like nepetalactone. These toys include climbing stools and yarn balls.
On the market, many plants, called cat grass, are entirely different from catnip. These plants include wheat, foxtail, oat, and other plants. Cats usually swallow this grass to clean up their stomach. These plants do not harm cats, and neither do they impact cat behavior.

Conclusion

Catnip has different effects on different cats.
Although catnip can help adjust cats' moods, it is advisable not to force them during use; otherwise, it will produce counterproductive results.
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