Last Updated on July 8, 2021 by Jenny
This question has fascinated cat lovers for centuries; in fact, so long that many myths have surfaced around this perennial herb, a member of the mint family. This article will help you learn more about this beneficial herb for kitties.
Botanically Speaking – Why Do Cats Like Catnip?
Cats on catnip, catswort, and catmint are different names for the same thing, but let us stay with catnip and catnips effects to avoid confusion. Catnip – scientifically nepeta cataria – is a perennial herb and member of the mint family. Some important considerations immediately enter the debate, why do cats like catnip? Drilling down further, let’s pose these questions:
- Is catnip a drug?
- Is catnip good for cats?
- Why do cats like being affected by catnip?
We will consider these questions further down the article.
Is Catnip a Drug?
One myth I would like to dispel straightaway is whether or not catnip is a drug. A reader once wrote she won’t give her feline catnip because it’s akin to giving her a drug. Good time to dispel this myth and answer the question is catnip a drug at the same time. A definite ‘no’ is my response. Read on to learn more.
Down to Basics – Why Do Cats Like Catnip?
Nepetalactone is a chemical compound found in leaves and stems of the catnip plant. This compound both attracts and sometimes affects cat behaviors, but not all cats, as roughly half the feline friends population do not react at all. This addresses the question why do cats like catnip because not all cats crave this herb.
The love of, or craving for catnip appears to be an acquired ‘taste’, meaning if your cat does have that sensitivity, it may only emerge when your pet is several months old. It seems that kittens do not display any interest in nepetalactone, the magic chemical found in catnip plants….sometimes a cat won’t show interest in catnip until they are 6 months old. To have an idea as to whether or not your young kitten likes catnip and catnip spray, find out if their parents did. Since it’s genetic, more than likely if both parents reacted to catnip, your kitten will too someday.
Is Catnip Good For Cats?
When responsive cats smell catnip it can send them to feline heaven, and entrance them, just like a magic potion it seems. If they ingest, it can act like a sedative as the nepetalactone binds to one or many of the olfactory receptors and can help with digestion. Are catnip toys safe? Yes, because if a kitty overindulges, vomiting and diarrhea may result, but the animal will return to normal over time.
How to Use Catnip
You can purchase many different toys that contain catnip and make a great game for your cat, and, of course, yourself as the spectator. Click here to see my personal all-time favorite catnip banana. You could also invent your own toy or rub it on a current toy your cat loves, you will soon find out if your cats react and approve of these great pet products.