Grooming Tips for Cats

Is Catnip Good For Your Cat? Unpicking The Mystery


Cat owners all over the world want to give the best care and nutrition to their four-legged feline friends.​ One of the oldest herb plants, catnip, has been used to stimulate cats for hundreds of years.​ But is it really good for cats? Is there any harm in letting your cat indulge in this herb every once in a while? Here, we take a deeper look at the mystery of catnip.​

What is Catnip?

Catnip is a perennial herb of the mint family and goes by many names.​ Notorious for its ability to drive cats wild, it is scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, and is also called catmint, catswort, and field balm.​

The Catnip Effect

The active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone, a chemical that cats detect through their scent glands.​ As it turns out, cats aren’t the only species that react to nepetalactone – it has a similar effect on mice, rats, and other small animals.​
When cats smell the nepetalactone in catnip, they react in different ways.​ Some cats will roll around in excitement, rubbing their face against the catnip as if to mark it as their own.​ Others will spring into the air or simply lay there quietly as if in a trance.​ While this over-the-top reaction may be amusing for us humans, it’s important to remember that it lasts only for a few minutes.​

What’s the Difference Between Catnip and Silvervine?

Catnip isn’t the only herb that can set off your cat.​ Silvervine is an herb belonging to the Actinidiaceae family, and it works in a similar way as catnip does.​ According to research, silvervine contains two types of active ingredients that have combined effects on cats, and produces an even stronger reaction than catnip.​
Silvervine is found in various parts of Asia and as such, is much more difficult to come by than catnip.​ On the other hand, catnip is widely available in pet stores.​

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Is Catnip Safe for Cats?

The short answer is yes.​ Catnip is considered safe for cats and their owners alike.​

Making sure your cat doesn’t ingest large quantities of it is probably the only concern.​ However, it’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before giving your cat any new food or herb.​

Health Benefits of Catnip

It turns out that catnip may not only be enjoyable for cats but also serve some health benefits.​ It is known to have an array of compounds that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.​ This means that catnip may help improve digestive health, immunity, skin health, and overall immunity in cats.​

Indoor or Outdoor Catnip?

It’s best to use dried catnip indoors.​ Catnip grows best in a cool, dark, and humid area.​ When grown indoors, catnip needs at least eight hours of direct sunlight.​ The most important thing to remember when growing catnip indoors is to keep the soil moist.​

How Much Catnip is Too Much?

Too much catnip can be harmful, so it should be given in moderation.​ A pinch of dried catnip is enough, while fresh catnip can be given in small amounts as a treat.​ You should also pay close attention to how your cat is behaving after eating catnip.​ If your cat is acting excessively agitated or is drooling excessively, it may be time to take the catnip away.​

Is Catnip Addictive?

Contrary to popular belief, catnip is not addictive.​ It’s more of a stimulant than an addictive substance.​ Cats may become bored over time, just like humans may become bored with toys or activities, and need new stimulation.​

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The active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone, a chemical that cats detect through their scent glands.​ Catnip is considered safe for cats and their owners alike and has a range of health benefits which include improved digestive health, immunity, and skin health.​ It’s best used in moderation and can be given as a pinch of dried catnip or small amounts of fresh catnip as a treat.​ Despite being a stimulant, catnip is not considered to be addictive.​

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