Catnip: What is Catnip?


Cats are domestic cats that have not lost their hunter instinct, hence their independent, exploratory and adventurous nature that often drives owners crazy, who must stay alert and informed, for example, about those plants toxic to cats.

However, practically all those people who have welcomed a cat in their home know that there is a plant that, far from being toxic, loves them and causes various reactions in them, we are facing the well-known catnip. If you want to know more about this plant, in this Animal Expert article we will talk about properties of catnip or catnip.

What is catnip?

Catnip is known by the botanical name of Cane Nepeta, although it also receives other names such as cat mint, cat basil, catnip, catnip or catnip.

Certainly it is a plant whose appearance is similar to that of mint and peppermint, its leaves are green, with jagged edges and its length is between 20 and 60 centimeters high. While It is a plant native to Europe, also grows wild in North America and West Asia.

Why does this plant like cats so much?

Catnip is very rich in essential oils and this makes 7 out of 10 cats react before her, showing an unusual interest in this plant.

First we can observe how the cat approaches the plant, rubs against it, licks it, chews and emits sounds similar to those of the cat's heat, but here this reaction does not end, later there are many cats that start to jump from one place to another, to run. They can also roll on themselves and hunt imaginary mice. Yes, without a doubt this plant exercises a narcotic effect that seduces more than one cat, but why does this reaction occur?

This narcotic effect is due to an active substance called nepetalactone, this substance is able to bind to those cells whose function is to stimulate the sensitive neurons and the reaction that the cat experiences before this plant is due to an overstimulation that does not occur naturally before other stimuli.

In addition to the narcotic effect, catnip induces behavior in the cat similar to those that occur during courtship and mating.

Properties of catnip

Due to its properties, catnip provides various benefits to your cat:

  • It encourages the game and the movement
  • It makes it easy for you to stay active and exercise
  • Stimulate the cat's mind thanks to the game

That is why it should not surprise us that numerous cat toys as well as scrapers include catnip, in addition, nowadays it can also be found in the form of a spray and spray it on your pet it will allow it to react through smell to nepetalactone, thus obtaining an immediate reward that can be used as a positive reinforcement.

Can catnip become toxic to your cat?

Catnip It is not toxic for cats and neither addictiveTherefore, there is no problem in our cat being moderately exposed to this plant, and yes, moderation here is very important.

A cat continually exposed to the narcotic effect of catnip can be dangerous, since although it is not usual, it can manifest aggressive behaviors, likewise, excessive exposure can endanger the animal's health if there are terraces or open windows.

Catnip is ideal for our cats, so they generally love it, however, we emphasize that moderation and supervision is important.

If you want to read more articles similar to Properties of catnip or catnip, we recommend you enter our Games and Fun section.

Mechanism of action of catnip

The response to Catnip is mediated through the olfactory system:

When nepetalactone enters the cat's nasal passages, it joins the olfactory sensory neurons found in the olfactory epithelium (specialized tissue located on the roof of the nasal cavity, at the back of the nose), which is involved in the sense of smell. A layer of mucus covers the olfactory epithelium that traps the odor molecules.

Olfactory sensory neurons send signals through the olfactory tract to the olfactory bulb that is located in the front of the brain and is responsible for the processing of odors.

The olfactory bulb sends signals to several regions of the brain, including the amygdala (responsible for emotions) and the hypothalamus (responsible for behavioral responses).

What effects does catnip have?

In most cats, arousal is induced by exposure to catnip. Your cat can act stimulated, running and attacking things. In many cases, cats' eyes will dilate.

Your cat may react differently, of course, but many cats become more expressive and playful. A small number of cats can become aggressive when exposed to catnip, so give your cat some space if it is the first time you try it.

What is the Catnip?

It is a plant that has the chemical property of "drugging cats" and the cause is found in the Nepetalactone, which is a chemical compound which is present in the aromatic oil of the cat mint. Apparently this is the component that causes the "state of happiness" in cats, as it is related to the process of activation of areas of the central nervous system and interestingly, it is related to a similar chemical compound, which is found in the urine of cats

Effects of catnip in cats.

The effects that the cape nepeta usually cause in cats are:

  • Playful and fun behavior.
  • Strange behavior and alternate movements.
  • They can roll over your body, wallow on the grass for several minutes reflecting ecstasy.
  • They can start hunting mice or other animals that they imagine.
  • Licks and purrs.
  • They can chew the catnip, inhale it and batter in it.

Elapsed between 5 to 15 minutes, the effects of Catnip, they are ceasing, giving way to tranquility and normality and it is recommended that between these doses of happiness, at least two hours pass.

Some studies have reflected different theories about the effects that the plant produces. Some compare them with hallucinogenic effects that produce acids (LSD) in humans because of the sensations cats experience. Others ensure that the effect caused is more similar to that of marijuana or cannabis.

Cats' responses to the effect vary, however normally they usually go from a calm or calm behavior to a more euphoric reaction of ecstasy. But in a matter of minutes, the cat gets used to the effects of the mint and the effects are censored.

Catnip Benefits

● Improve your behavior: Thanks to the catnip for cats, your cat can feel in ecstasy for a few minutes and after the effect passes its behavior will be calmer, thanks to the fact that during the state of hallucination they play and roll, releasing energy and endorphins.

● Stress release: Sometimes cats can feel stress when they are inside 4 walls in the home, either because it is very small or simply boredom. The contact with the cape nepeta, makes them relax and experience a feeling of well-being.

● To exercise: By adding a bit of catnip to the scraper and your cat's toys, you will get it stimulated during the performance of your usual exercise, this will be a greater motivation when exercising in your scraper.

● Natural insect repellent: Having this plant at home as the cape nepeta can also help you repel mosquitoes and cockroaches due to the chemical effects it produces.

Catnip contraindications

Although its effects are not harmful, in some cases the cat may vomit and have an adverse reaction to the catnip. In those cases it is better to restrict the use, since it could be an allergic reaction.

In general, the doses should be controlled and you can give it access from time to time and then take it off. Much better also if you associate it with toys or scrapers, so that it is motivated to play.

How can I supply catnip to my cat?

You can supply Catnip to your cat in different ways. The hallucinogenic oils of this plant are currently sold in different presentations, you can not only have one plant in your house, but you can also buy its seeds to grow it yourself, also dried leaves, pills, sprays, roll-on packages and drops with essence of Nepetalactone. All this can be purchased at a specialized store that has catnip products for cats

Buy Catnip for cats

Here you can buy the best natural Catnip, in various formats.

So the way to supply the Catnip, can be spread it by toys, scrapers or adding a small dose to your usual play areas. Even some brands often sell their cat products with this component already included.

The effects of Catnip do not occur in all cats.

Not all cats react to the effects of this plant and Approximately 40% of cats do not experience any effect. This is because the causes for which a cat reacts to the Nepeta Catharia, has to do with its genetics. Cats without this predisposition will not be altered by their effects.

Kittens under 2 months can even reject this plant. Adult cats may be the ones that react most strongly to their effects, as some studies relate a similar component, existing in the urine of cats, and may feel attracted.

Their effects are not harmful at all, although it is recommended that they are not exposed continuously and avoid being eaten or inhaled too much. You better enjoy the Catnip, at certain times and if they are related and impregnated with toys or playgrounds, much better.

Other varieties similar to Catnip

There are other less known varieties, but that have similar effects and characteristics:

Nepeta mussinii It is a variety of plant with flowers of ocher color and leaves of gray tones. They are medium in size, but smaller than catnip plants, with a height of about 50 cm maximum.

It is a variety, called Nepeta cataria citriodora and it is characterized by having white flowers with turquoise tones. Its flowers have a lemon smell, hence its name and can reach a meter high.

Variety Nepeta camphorataIt has white flowers with purple tones and can grow beyond 50 cm in height. It has a smell similar to camphor.

It is one of the best known varieties and its plant is called Parnassic Nepeta. Its flowers are pinkish and a height of about 50 cm. This plant can be easily obtained in pet stores.

How to keep the Catnip at home?

The most important is preserve its essence and natural aromas So the most recommended is:

Most of the containers in which it is sold, are airtight, but if they were not, we recommend that you change it to a airtight closure bag or rubber pressure closure bottle. If it is not airtight, the properties of the Catnip will be lost and therefore, its effect will not be the same in cats. Keep it also in a place where it does not give light and, if possible, be a cool and dry place.

We have seen then that the Cape Nepeta, it can be beneficial for your cat (without abusing) and a little bit of Catnip, sure to cheer up those fun little games. Tell us your experience. How does your cat react?