Catnip. What do most of us know about it? Probably about as much as I thought I did..
- Most cats go wild for it.
- It is probably a plant.
- It is inside some cat toys.
- It seems like a drug for cats.
But what actually is catnip, why does it affect some cats more than others, and is it good for our furbabies?
Catnip in its purest form is a leafy green member of the mint family.
According to the Humane Society of the United States: “Nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip, can turn even the laziest couch potato into a crazy furball—if said furball happens to have inherited the sensitivity to its effects. The trait doesn’t emerge until a cat is between three and six months old; until then, a kitten will not have a response.”
So there you have it, an essential oil just for cats and their pure joy.
[That one is for you, millennial!]
The catnip experience typically starts with a whiff of the good stuff. I know at my house, Captain will get a whiff of a catnip filled toy and his sniffer really goes to town. Suddenly, he appears deranged as he begins licking, biting, and “gutting” the toy. See below for the end of a catnip fest with Cappy Mills!
The most common results of a cat that does react to catnip are: rolling, flipping, rubbing, and zoning out. Kitties may even growl or meow as they play.
But then there is Gandalf. Gandalf LOVES to play with kitty toys! Especially mice he can bat around! But catnip appears to have little to no effect on him. He is interested in the toy and appears to smell something on it but then no reaction. After some research, I have come to realize that an estimated 50% of cats do not have a reaction to this kitty narcotic! It turns out, Gandalf may just genetically not be sensitive to the minty smell and taste of the ‘nip! But don’t worry, he still bats around that mouse even after it becomes soaking wet from his brother’s catnip hurricane of a reaction!
Long-lasting joy? Not necessarily! On average, cats are in their catnip glory for approximately 10 minutes. After which, they may be in a daze or bounce back to normal.
And the best part about this oil reaction? It is quite hard for your kitty to “overdose” and there doesn’t appear to be any bad side effects. However, if your cat does eat too many catnip leaves, he can become ill so only give the ‘nip in moderate amounts. Additionally, stay close upon first giving a new catnip toy to your furbaby; you never know how they will react and it is good to be aware of their behavior! [Or to make a million dollars by submitting your videos to America’s Funniest Home Videos. Although they never choose the funniest ones as winners, so just go ahead and send the videos to me. You will be a winner in my heart and I will laugh, hard, I promise.]
My brother and sister-in-law’s yellow lab, Lady, gave the boys some of their own catnip to grow for Christmas this year! What a sweet pup! So I guess it is time to face my fears of killing all things green and plant it!
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you and your family had a marvelous Christmas. See you in 2018!