Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

Do cats like catnip? Chances are, your feline loves catnip. These products are popular among pet owners who want to treat their furry friends to some harmless fun. 

Still, why does catnip cause felines to act so crazy? Mandeville’s trusted veterinarian explains the science behind catnip plants and their effects on animals.

What Is Catnip?

The herb Nepeta cataria is a member of the mint family that grows in Europe, Asia, and North America. Generally, when people use the term “catnip,” they are referring to the byproducts of this plant. However, some catnip products also include other plants, such as Valerian and Silver Vine.

Nepetalactone oil activates sensory receptors in a cat’s brain when the animal eats or inhales these products. More specifically, catnip manipulates the amygdala (the part of the brain that is the integrative center for emotions, emotional behavior and motivation), causing hyperactivity. Some pet owners report that catnip makes their felines behave like they are in heat. 

Why Doesn’t My Cat React to Catnip?

Do cats like catnip? While most cats love it, many felines have no interest in the plant product.

Nothing is wrong with your pet if it does not react to catnip. Although these herbs act as a pheromone for most cats, 20%-40% of felines do not have the necessary genes to activate relevant sensory receptors. 

Additionally, kittens and older felines may have diminished responses to its effects.

Suppose your pet used to enjoy catnip but no longer does. In that case, the product itself may have lost its potency due to storage problems or age.

Is Catnip Safe for My Cat?

Many pet owners worry that catnip can harm their furry friends. No sufficient evidence suggests that these herbs are bad for your pet. However, if your cat consumes too much of the product, it may experience slight stomach pains or diarrhea.

A veterinarian can diagnose your cat if you believe it had a bad reaction to catnip.

How Can I Give My Pet Catnip?

Did you know that you can use catnip as a training aid? Many pet owners purchase catnip pouches or toys to encourage their cats to use litter boxes and scratching posts. It is also helpful if you want to keep your pet off certain furniture around the house.

Because catnip causes hyperactivity in some felines, it can be a great way to encourage exercise. Lastly, these products can help your pet reduce stress if it is prone to anxiety or antisocial behavior.

Pouches are ideal solutions if you worry about your feline eating too much of the herb. Pet toy companies manufacture these products to resist holes from biting and scratching. 

Other Considerations

Many people mistakenly misrepresent catnip as a “drug” for felines. However, the effects of catnip on the brain are not similar to the chemical reactions of marijuana or synthetic stimulants. You don’t need to worry that you are drugging or abusing your animal by giving them catnip.

It is also worth noting that catnip has a minor effect on humans. Indigenous Americans treated migraines, cramps, insomnia, and more by brewing Nepeta and other mint plants in tea. Still, these herbs will not create the same hyperactive effect in humans as in cats.

Give Your Cat the Care It Deserves From a Trusted Veterinarian

As a loving pet owner, you understand the importance of treating your cat with the right products and care. However, it can be challenging to find reliable solutions without help. At our Mandeville animal hospital VetNaturally™, we use safe and ethical strategies to treat cats for injuries and diseases.

Our dedicated veterinarians use years of training and wisdom to provide your pets with the highest quality care. We deliver excellent communication and professional recommendations during every visit, so you can be confident in the results.

In addition to traditional veterinary services, as a holistic clinic, we promote effective food therapy for pets. This way, your animals get the complete care that they deserve. Do cats like catnip? Most do! Learn more by contacting us at VetNaturally™ in Mandeville, LA. Schedule an appointment at 985-718-9991 today.

Dr. Ashley Geoghegan

Dr. Ashley Geoghegan, known affectionately as Dr. G, has spent a lifetime devoted to animal care. Dr. G graduated from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine and served in the U.S. Army as a veterinary officer. At VetNaturally™, she practices Integrative Medicine, which is a combination of Traditional Chinese Veterinary medicine (TCVM) , canine rehabilitation and conventional Western medicine.