Everything You Need to Know About Catnip

You’ve heard of catnip, and you may have even tried it out on your feline companion. It’s your cat’s favorite indulgence, but how much do you know about this fascinating plant? Learn more here from a vet in Lafayette, LA.

What is Catnip, Exactly?

Catnip is an herb. It’s actually classified in the same “plant family” as mint! The wild catnip plant can be found all over North America, and is a medium-height green-leafed plant with white flowers. In a pet store, you’ll be able to purchase “raw” catnip that is a dried and processed version of the wild plant. Catnip is also often included in cat toys, or infused into sprays and other similar products.

Why Does Catnip Affect Cats?

The oils of the catnip plant contain a chemical called nepetalactone, and it’s this chemical that causes the reactions you’ll see your cat have. Nepetalactone causes a chemical response in your cat’s brain, and some experts liken it to an aphrodisiac—it’s possible that your cat experiences a sort of sexual reaction when exposed to the herb!

You’ll find that different cats react in different ways when given catnip. Some will become very excited, darting to and fro in an energetic manner. Other cats will rub their faces and bodies vigorously in the area where catnip was sprinkled. Still other felines may simply stretch out on the floor and relax in a state of bliss. Although it depends on the type and amount of catnip that your cat was given, most of the time these effects will wear off after only a few short moments.

Is Catnip Safe?

Yes, catnip is perfectly harmless for your feline friend. The chemical reaction that occurs in Fluffy’s brain will cause no harmful effects whatsoever; your cat can’t “overdose” or become addicted to catnip. Feel free to give your cat raw catnip or a catnip-infused toy as often as you’d like!

Why Isn’t My Cat Reacting to Catnip?

Have you noticed that your cat doesn’t seem to respond to catnip? There’s no need to worry—your cat is perfectly fine! It turns out that many of our feline friends (almost half) don’t respond to catnip at all. That’s because your cat requires a specific gene, inherited from both parents, to respond to the herb. If they don’t have it, catnip won’t have any affect!

Call your Lafayette, LA animal hospital for more information.

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