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Cats and Catnip: Things to Know

If you're a cat owner you've probably heard of Nepeta cataria by now. It's no secret cats love this perennial herb, and while not every cat would be absolutely crazy about it, considering they all have different personalities much like we humans do, the effects vary from euphoria to calmness.

Yes, you guessed it, it's the Latin name for catnip. This effect is due to the organic compound known as nepetalactone, especially in the way it affects a cat's brain thus we have the change in behaviour. Mind you though, not every cat is going to be affected, the older the cat is the less likely the chances. The same goes for kittens as well so until they're at least six months old don't expect any reaction.

Also sensitivity is a hereditary trait which would explain why about 30% or more of the cats show no reaction. If you want to see whether your cat is one of them or would gladly chill out with some catnip, there are many products you can buy from reliable stores, including sprays from natural renewable sources.

You'd be surprised to know big cats also love this herb so it wouldn't be uncommon to see a tiger or a lion acting enamoured by the smell of it as they too can inherit the sensitivity. Though we might think of the herb as addictive as drugs, the effect only lasts about 10 minutes at most and it wears off so there's no reason to worry your cat would become addicted or even overdose.

Apart from the calming what's further great about it is the fact you can use it as a training tool which happens to be a better option than treats in case you fear weight gain. Besides, it's easy to apply the catnip anywhere, especially when you use spray for example instead of rely on the whole plant.

If you want to correct a certain behaviour, be it scratching or playing with a new toy, just spray the objects you want your cat to use to attract with the calming smell; this way you could introduce them to a new scratch post and teach them not to damage the furniture along the way, or get them to like a specific toy. You have to agree it's the perfect strategy!

Also, when you have a shy cat that isn't comfortable to stay around people or other cats you could use it to lure it in the room, allowing it to gain confidence bit by bit. Have in mind though not all cats have the calming happy reactions to it, some might act aggressively and if that's the case with yours it's necessary to reduce the use.

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