What Does Catnip Do to Cats?

What Does Catnip Do to Cats

Last Updated on September 6, 2023 by Fumipets

What Does Catnip Do to Cats?


Catnip is a herb that has a fascinating and often entertaining effect on cats. When cats encounter catnip, it can lead to various reactions and behaviors, making it a popular choice among cat owners. Here’s a summary of what catnip does to cats and some common questions about it:

  1. Attraction and Excitement: Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which triggers a sensory response in cats. When cats come into contact with catnip, they often exhibit signs of attraction, excitement, and playfulness.

  2. Rolling and Rubbing: Cats may roll in catnip or rub their bodies against it. This behavior is believed to help release more of the catnip’s scent, intensifying the effect.

  3. Hyperactivity: Catnip can lead to increased activity levels in cats. They may chase imaginary prey, run around, and engage in energetic play.

  4. Mellowing Out: On the flip side, some cats may become more relaxed and sedated after exposure to catnip, often leading to a state of contentment.

  5. Temporary Effect: The effects of catnip are usually short-lived, lasting for about 10-15 minutes. Afterward, cats may lose interest until they encounter catnip again.

Catnip for Cats

If you adore cats, you’ve probably heard of or even seen cats using catnip. Cats with large eyes, bushy tails, and crazy behaviors are frequently depicted in cartoons, motion pictures, and advertisements playing with catnip-infused objects. It’s enticing to want to buy every mouse-shaped catnip toy you come across just to elicit that kind of outward joy when there are so many catnip toys available. But not all cats respond favorably to catnip. 

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Why do our sluggish sofa potatoes suddenly become aggressive cats when exposed to catnip? Many people think that catnip turns many cats into drunk cats.

What is Catnip?

The mint genus includes a shrub, more particularly a vegetable known as catnip. The plant’s leaves have pores on the bottom that are loaded with nepetalactone, a molecular compound. Nepetalactone oil is produced when a cat nibbles or scratches the foliage. 

The catnip shrub grows organically in damp, well-lit regions and can also be found in parks. Additionally, you can buy the plant in a variety of shapes and cat devices that either contain or are filled with sacks of powdered catnip leaves. 

What Does Catnip Do to Cats And Do All Cats Love It?

When catnip is consumed or breathed, it has an impact on the feline brain. Catnip enters the brain through the nostrils when it is rubbed, rolled in, chewed, bit, or licked by a cat, who then experiences its stimulating effects. However, how specific regions of the cat brain are affected by catnip remains a mystery to researchers.

According to some studies, eating catnip is more likely to result in a cat that is more exhausted and “mellow” than simply smelling it, which may trigger certain “happy” hormonal reactions in some mature cats. This might be because only some cats have an inherited propensity for catnip. However, a separate research claimed that every cat has a distinct reaction to catnip. Research needs to be done because we don’t yet understand how or why cats may become obsessed with catnip. 

Can Kittens Have Catnip?

It’s interesting to note that study indicates that until they achieve adulthood, puppies and young cats might not react to catnip. This could be as a result of cats’ undeveloped vomeronasal organ, or smell detector. Catnip may even be uncomfortable for some cats until they are adults. There’s really no need to introduce catnip at that young an age because cats are already fairly busy and easily amuse themselves.

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Can Cats Overdose on Catnip?

As far as we are aware, cats cannot actually OD on catnip, but they can become ill if they consume too much of it. We need to make sure that anything we offer our dogs that could have an impact on their bodies or brains is both secure and beneficial for them. Although it seems like many cats like catnip, many cat owners have discovered that catnip causes serious problems like sickness and incontinence. Catnip can increase excitement in some cats to the point where they become violent toward their owners or other cats in the home.

Should You Use Catnip for Cat Enrichment?

There are many cat games available on the market that use catnip to encourage a cat to play. Catnip can spur brief bouts of feisty activity in cats who are typically more laid back. However, catnip by itself cannot compensate for a dearth of everyday stimulation.

Every day, cats need high-quality mental and physical stimulation, and their objects should suit their preferred styles of play. For instance, a cat that enjoys pursuing anything fluffy or moving might not be as interested in a toy that contains catnip as a cat that behaves like finding a comfortable place on the sofa counts as exercise. (my spirit animal).

Be careful to locate the highest grade catnip if you do decide to use it.

Common Questions about Catnip:


Is catnip safe for cats?

Yes, catnip is generally safe for cats. Most cats enjoy it without any adverse effects. However, it’s essential to use it in moderation.


Are all cats affected by catnip?

No, not all cats are affected by catnip. Sensitivity to catnip is hereditary, and approximately 30-50% of cats do not respond to it.


Can cats become addicted to catnip?

Cats cannot become addicted to catnip. They may lose interest in it temporarily after repeated exposure but will regain their sensitivity with time.

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Can catnip be used for training?

Catnip can be a useful tool for positive reinforcement in training, especially for encouraging play and interaction.


Are there any alternatives to catnip?

If your cat does not respond to catnip, alternative herbs like valerian root or silver vine may produce similar effects.

In summary, catnip can have a range of effects on cats, from excitement to relaxation, and it’s generally safe to use in moderation. However, not all cats are affected by catnip, so it’s essential to observe your cat’s individual reactions and preferences.



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