Catnip Questions and Best Ways to Use It

Readily available in pet supply stores and even in veterinary clinics, catnip is one of the most sought out herbs by pet owners. Originating from Asia, Nepeta cataria is readily available everywhere and has long been associated with cats mainly due to its effects on any kind of feline. Even the big cats like tigers, leopards and jaguars are prey to this plant’s alluring smell.

Catnip. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Catnip. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

As a concerned pet owner, you may have several questions about it. Let’s try to answer these and know the best way to use them.

First off, is catnip safe?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

You bet! Catnip is totally safe despite its drug-like euphoric effects on your feline friend. It is safe to eat and non-addictive, meaning your cat won’t go crazy or aggressive if it hasn’t sniffed or licked it in a day.

As a safety feature, you could install a bed of catnip on your garden: not only will it make your cat happy, but it will also ensure that it will steer clear of other plants like lilies and azaleas which happen to be popular cat poisons. Remember though, these plants are very invasive so be sure to NOT place them with other plants if possible.

What does it do?

Unfortunately, only one in two cats is sensitive to this herb’s effects and you won’t know until it is over three to six months old. Your cats’ genetic makeup is responsible for determining if it can be affected by the herb. That aside, the main reason why felines fall prey to this herb is because of the oil called nepetalactone which is found in the stem, leaves and seeds of the plant.


In simpler terms, the herb acts as some sort of drug which triggers a euphoric and relaxing response. A sniff or two is usually all it takes to make a full-sized Maine coon cat go crazy. The responses are usually highlighted by licking, chewing, drooling and rolling around. Reactions vary though: some cats become rather calm, while others become aggressively playful. The whole ordeal lasts for 10-15 minutes – you’ll have to wait two hours before the cat is affected again.

Best Ways to Use It

Rather than being just a “cat cannabis” catnip can be used in a practical manner. As you may already know, cats are very picky animals and are capable of producing a ton of headaches for their owners. However, catnip can change the playing field. Here’s how:


• If your cat loves to claw at the furniture (leaving you with ruined couches) and ignoring the scratching post you bought a week ago, simply lace the post with dried catnip to lure Mrs. Tibbles in.
• If you don’t want the cat to sleep in the bed, simply put catnip on the cat bed or cushion you bought for it. This will guarantee that you don’t have to wake up to a ball of fur the following morning.
• Lastly, you can easily encourage your cats to exercise: lace its toys and stuffed animals with catnip and watch as it goes crazy!


Cover photo from Dwight Sipler

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