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28th Nov 2023

Everything you need to know about catnip

by Burns Team Writer

Cats love catnip. As a cat owner, you likely have a variety of catnip toys, treats and sprays in your home. However, have you ever wondered what catnip actually is and why it has such an effect on your feline friend?

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about catnip.


What is catnip?

Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta Cataria, is a member of the mint family. While it originated in Europe and Asia, it has also been discovered thriving in certain regions of North America. This herbaceous plant can grow up to 90cm tall and 60cm wide, producing small clusters of violet flowers when in bloom.

What does catnip do to cats?

Catnip contains an active compound called nepetalactone, which is stored in microscopic bulbs on the leaves, stems and pods. This compound is released when the plant is crushed, chewed or rubbed against. When your cat comes into contact with this compound, it can cause them to exhibit a range of behavioural changes. This can include drooling, purring, rubbing, rolling and playing. However, all cats react slightly differently to catnip. In fact, some cats don’t react to catnip at all!

How long does catnip last?

The effects of catnip are completely temporary. For most cats, it takes just 10 to 15 minutes for the catnip to wear off. For other cats, it can take up to 30 minutes for their behaviour to return to normal.

Can cats eat catnip?

Catnip is perfectly safe for cats to eat. However, too much catnip can cause mild stomach issues, such as vomiting and diarrhoea. If you become concerned about your cat’s health, we recommend you take them to the vet straight away.

To ensure the wellbeing of your cat, it is always best to offer catnip in moderation.

Is catnip safe for cats?

Catnip is considered perfectly safe for cats. While it is sometimes compared to a drug for cats, it is non-addictive and non-harmful. However, it should still be given in moderation, as excessive use can decrease its effectiveness.

How to give cats catnip?

There are a number of ways that you can give catnip to your cat, including:

Dried catnip

Dried catnip is a popular choice among cat owners. Available as loose catnip, it can be sprinkled on their scratching post or incorporated into their toys. This is an effective way of directing your cat to certain surfaces and objects, and is often used to deter cats from scratching furniture.

Fresh catnip

Fresh catnip can be grown outdoors or indoors. Introducing a catnip plant to your home can make a stimulating addition to your cat’s surroundings, especially if they are an indoor cat. This can provide your cat with an opportunity to interact with the plant, whether they want to rub against it or chew on the leaves.

Catnip sprays

Catnip sprays typically contain nepetalactone, which is the active ingredient in catnip responsible for behavioural changes. These sprays can be easily applied to various surfaces, objects and toys. Many owners use catnip spray to revitalise old toys, providing them with a simple yet effective way to engage their furry friend.

Catnip toys

Catnip toys are often filled with dried catnip leaves. From plush mice to fabric pouches, these toys can be used to make playtime more exciting. Catnip toys can be found on the majority of pet shop shelves, and are incredibly popular among cat owners.

Catnip treats

Catnip treats are a new addition to the market, with only a handful of pet food manufacturers currently offering them. These treats can be used as a training aid, helping to reinforce the bond between you and your cat.

Have another question?

If you have any more questions about catnip, get in touch. Our team of nutritional advisers are here to answer any of your questions.

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