Most people have heard of catnip, especially those who have a cat themselves! What’s less common is some people aren’t aware of how catnip makes kitties go crazy for the herb due to the effects of its main compound, nepetalactone. This crazy reaction is often compared to the effects of cannabis on humans.
If you’re a novice with catnip, check out these 10 things we’ve rounded up about catnip you probably didn’t know! Catnip experts may be surprised at some facts as well.
1. Human Use
It turns out, catnip isn’t just for cats! Humans have been using the plant for centuries in herbal cigarettes, teas, and in cooking. When it’s prepared as a tea, nepetalactone acts as a mild sedative to help relieve symptoms such as headaches and nausea. It’s still used for human consumption in some areas of the world in present day!
2. Effect On Large Cats
Catnip doesn’t just affect small, domesticated cats; it affects big, wild cats too! When some species of large cats like leopards, lynxes, and cougars are exposed to catnip, a reaction of going nuts over catnip (similar to how domesticated cats react) occurs. Can you imagine what it would be like to be near a large cat when activated? Wow! Other big cats like tigers and lions have been affected in a similar way, but not as consistently.
Not all cats react positively to catnip. Some kitties become aggressive when exposed to the herb, rather than euphoric or relaxed. If you have more than one cat, we suggest introducing ‘nip to each feline individually in order to avoid any potential cat fights. In addition, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to not engage with your furry friend while she’s catnipped up until you know how she’ll react to the plant. This will save your cat from feeling bad after making you head to your medicine cabinet to use your bandages and Polysporin.
4. Pest Repellent
Fight off pests with catnip! Nepetalactone was discovered by scientists to be a hugely effective pest repellent against cockroaches, termites, flies, and even pesky mosquitoes. As a matter of fact, it’s approximately 10 times effective as DEET, an active ingredient that’s commonly used in bug repellents. However, when applied to the skin, nepetalactone loses its ability to repel insects. So, it’s best to stick with your mosquito repellent instead of joining your furry friend on the floor to roll in the ‘nip.
If you bought your kitty a brand new scratching post or an expensive pet bed she couldn’t be bothered to use, try using catnip to encourage her to use her new cat furniture! When ‘nip is sprinkled on a scratching post, your kitty will usually start kneading her paws after she licks up the catnip. Then, she’ll discover the post is a great scratching surface! The catnip will help her remember to use the scratching post to its fullest later on. Cat scratch fever is a thing!
6. Growing Catnip
It’s very easy to plant your own catnip from seed or a seedling after the last freeze of the season. If you choose to grow your own ‘nip, make sure you leave lots of room for it to grow. The plant thrives with access to lots of sunlight and porous soil. When catnip is fully grown, be sure to hang the cuttings upside down in a dark, airy, and dry space to dry. Then, you can store the dried leaves in airtight containers in the refrigerator to use with your kitten whenever! And you don’t need a permit to grow your catnip at home unlike other herbs.
7. Sedative For Dogs
While catnip is most commonly used on cats, some people use it on their dogs! But, instead of catnip acting as a stimulant and making pups excited and energetic, the opposite effect is felt on dogs. Catnip is actually a sedative for dogs, making them tired and sleepy. The herb is a safe remedy to calm puppers and help with nervousness, while giving your cat some time to spend with you without the pesky dog getting all the attention.
8. Several Forms
Catnip doesn’t just come in one form, it comes in many! One of the forms catnip takes is a herb-like mixture of flower buds and dried leaves. The flower buds are white-spotted and lavender coloured, while the leaves are green with tooth edges. Catnip also comes in pellets of flower buds and dried leaves, and can be found as a spray composed of distilled water and essential oil. You can even find catnip inside kitty toys! It can even be mixed with other stimulants for cats like catmint, honeysuckle, and valerian root!
9. No Intention For Consumption
Cats don’t actually consume catnip. In fact, they never intend to eat it in the first place! Instead, they either lick, bite, or brush up against ‘nip to release the oils found in catnip. However, if by chance your kitty ingests a large amount of catnip, it could cause her to vomit, have an upset stomach, or have diarrhea. Always keep an eye on your cat when exposing her to this plant. And we have all had to clean up cat vomit at one time as cat caretakers.
10. Not Harmful
Although catnip can create some never-before-seen effects on your feline, there’s no need to worry about your kitty becoming addicted to the herb. Catnip is completely safe, as there’s nothing in it that can cause harm to your cat when inhaled. Even though ‘nip is safe to eat, make sure your kitty doesn’t consume too much, as too much of anything isn’t good!