Why Do Cats Love Catnip So Much?

Have you ever wondered why cats go crazy over catnip?

When they’re exposed to it, they may roll around in the herb, jump in it, rub their body or head on it, vocalize, or even salivate!  So, why do cats go mad over catnip? 


Pheromones & Catnip

All it takes is one sniff of catnip to bring out strong feelings in cats. The plant is believed to mimic feel-good pheromones and stimulate the olfactory receptors of cats when it enters their nasal tissue. The brain picks up this simulation and can send your cat off to Happy Land within a matter of moments. However, there’s a chance that your kitty may not be affected if she doesn’t have a sensitivity to catnip.

If your cat is acting strangely after taking a good whiff of the herb (like pawing random objects), it’s completely normal! Acting weird after inhaling catnip is a sign that your kitty is enjoying the effects. When catnip is ingested, your cat may be calm and mellow.


Nepetalactone & Catnip

Cats go bonkers over catnip due to a chemical called nepetalactone. This chemical is found in the oil of catnip, which comes from the plant’s stem, leaves, and seed. Nepetalactone is the secret chemical that brings out the weirdness in cats!

Reactions only last for about 10 minutes before cats become refractory to the effects of the plant for approximately 30 minutes. Plus, responses are hereditary, so only about 70% of cats react to catnip. Reactions depend on age as well. Kittens are not affected until they are around six months old, which is when they start to reach sexual maturity.

Cat sleeping on its back


Fresh or Dried Catnip?

The type of catnip you use on your feline friend will affect the intensity of his experience. No matter if you use fresh or dried catnip, they’re both safe for your cat (including if he eats a little of it). It’s also non-addictive, so you don’t have to worry about your cat getting hooked on catnip. But, the oils in catnip will dissipate at a quick rate, so it’s not a bad idea to store dried catnip in the freezer if you want to maintain its potency.

Catnip can also be purchased in the form of sprays. However, sprays aren’t as effective as catnip found in its dried or fresh form since they don’t have enough nepetalactone to create a reaction.

You can even grow your own catnip, so your kitty can enjoy it fresh or dried ‘nip straight from the garden! Catnip is a plant that is very easy to grow. All you’ll need is catnip seeds, soil, water, and, of course, sunlight.

Whether you decide to grow your own catnip or purchase it in its fresh, dried, or spray form, just remember that the level of intensity will vary depending on the type of catnip used.


Too Much Catnip?

Can catnip be too much of a good thing? 

Cats typically know when they’ve had enough of the herb, but if they enjoy it a little too much and go overboard by consuming more than they should, they might experience side effects like diarrhea or vomiting. But, worry not. As long as they take a break from it, cats will come back to their natural state on their own.

Sleepy cat


Since catnip is safe (if too much isn’t ingested), why not treat your kitty to some catnip today? For most cats, they’ll love it.


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econderve on Jun 03, 2021

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