How To Give Cats Catnip



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If your cat’s favorite toy is no longer a favorite, it’s time to shake things up with catnip. It is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family and is almost guaranteed to please your feline friend if you know how to use it.

Nepeta cataria, also known as field barm, catmint, catworp, and catnip, has long made cats feel good. So, what is it about the catnip herb that drives cats crazy? Is that always the case?

How To Give Cats Catnip. A black and white cat lying in a Catnip plant.

Let’s discover catnip’s impact on cats and the best ways to treat your cat.

Why Do Cats Love Catnip?

Why do most cats become active, playful, crazed creatures when they smell catnip?

The reason is that the essential oil of Nepeta cataria contains a pheromone known as nepetalactone which stimulates specific receptors that cats have. This induces a euphoric reaction and immediately alters their mood.

While most cats react positively to catnip, some are indifferent to it. Other cats may grow anxious. This depends on several factors you’ll need to consider before giving catnip to your cat.

What Are Its Effects on Cats?

How catnip affects cats varies from one cat to another.

Cats Smelling Catnip

For most cats, smelling catnip will engender a state of euphoria and overwhelming excitement. Much like humans, cats will try to chase that feeling. They will lick the catnip, paw at it, rub against it, roll on the floor, or leap around.

The effects are mostly enjoyable, but not all cats will be that much into it.

Cats Ingesting Catnip

Catnip is a great treat for cats in every way. When ingested, the effects are noticeably more intense. It should be perfectly safe as long as they ingest a reasonable quantity. However, too much may cause stomach trouble and other mild to moderate discomforts.

It’s hard to tell how your cat will react to the catnip it ingests. In most cases, your cat will experience an even more intense euphoria or become aggressive. On the other hand, it might also soothe it and make it purr, meow, drool, or feel sleepy.

Between ingesting and smelling catnip, the effects usually vary from sleepiness to outright ecstasy, with some cats being more receptive than others.

The effects typically last 10 to 15 minutes, when your cat loses interest and remains unresponsive to catnip stimulation for a few hours afterward.

Can Cats Eat Catnip?

Eating catnip is just as beneficial to cats as inhaling it, as long as it’s in the appropriate amount. It is not toxic or harmful in any way and is not known to cause an overdose.

Overeating may cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and other health issues, which is something to watch out for.

Tips on Giving Your Cat Catnip

There are plenty of ways to introduce your cat to catnip. Here is what you can do.

Don’t Give Too Much of It

Observing how your cat reacts to its first catnip intake will give you a clear idea of how much you can provide.

It’s recommended to start with minimal doses. If your cat reacts positively, you may increase it the next time, but never give them too much of it. In any case, a small amount of catnip is enough to get your cat going for a while, which makes it work best as an occasional treat.

You may want to try with less catnip if you notice any unwanted effects like biting and aggressiveness. However, if your cat doesn’t enjoy catnip, it’s best to do without it and look for other alternatives.

If you’re uncertain how much catnip you should use, you can always ask a vet for advice.

Make Catnip Toys for Your Cat

You can combine the delightful catnip scent with your cat’s favorite toys and treat it to the ultimate life experience.

For instance, many pet stores sell refillable cat catnip toys. These are very practical since you can regulate how much catnip you want to expose your cat to; otherwise, you can just as easily make your own. Then, pick its favorite toy, fill it with catnip, and ensure it stays contained.

For this, you can use fresh or dried catnip and catnip oil. There’s no limit to how many cool catnip toy ideas you can try, so be as creative as you want.

Rub Catnip to a Scratching Post for Your Cat

Cats need to stay sharp, which means keeping their claws sharp. So to encourage them to use a scratching post or a cat tree and, at the same time, keep them off your furniture, you can spread a little catnip on their scratcher.

This way, catnip will be a great training aid for your cat rather than just making it feel high.

Use Quality Catnip for Your Cat

Whether you prefer catnip oil, spray, dried or fresh catnip, either will do fine. Regardless, make sure you go for a quality plant, as they will contain the most nepetalactone.

Many catnip products are available in stores. Ideally, you should go for an organic one, especially if you plan to feed it to your cat.

Grow Catnip Plants for Your Cat

Growing it at home is the best way to ensure a continuous fresh supply of your cat’s new favorite plant.

Potted catnip is fast and easy to grow, reaching its maturity within one growing season. So even when it dies during the cold months, your cat will still enjoy it all the same!

Although it’s best grown outdoors, you can also grow a catnip plant inside your home, provided it gets enough water and sunlight.

Final Thoughts on Catnip for Your Cat

Cat owners can seldom go wrong with treating their furry friends to the sublime scent of catnip. It contains an active compound known as nepetalactone which caters to your cat’s deepest senses and fills them with pleasure and excitement.

Provided you use it correctly, there are plenty of exciting ways to give cats catnip, whether for smelling or ingesting and make them have the time of their nine lives!

Before you go, you may find these articles helpful:

Chew Toys for Cats

20 Flowers That Are Safe For Cats

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