Chances are, if you’ve got a cat you’ve given him catnip – and he probably responded by rubbing all over it, kicking at it, going crazy, writhing around on the floor…basically going nuts just by sniffing it! So, what is it about catnip that makes our kitties go crazy? And how can you grow your own catnip? Everything you ever wanted to know and more is included in this Essential Guide to Catnip!
Why Do Cats Love Catnip?
At least 50% of the cat population is sensitive to catnip! Catnip sensitivity is a genetic trait that develops in kittens between 3 and 6 months of age, and more often in male cats because the same chemical can be found in a female cat’s urine! Really!
The active ingredient that makes catnip drive your cat bonkers is called Nepetalactone. It’s found in both the stems and the leaves of the plant and causes a hallucinogenic effect in cats who smell it. While a catnip buzz is often compared to LSD or marijuana, catnip is perfectly safe for cats – they cannot overdose on it. That said, different cats react differently to catnip ranging from sleepiness to happiness and, yes, even aggression. A catnip high will only last about 10-15 minutes before it wears off. If you want your cat to get another buzz, you’ll have to wait at least two hours before it will have any effect again. And, most cats will refuse more catnip after they’ve had enough.
How Do You Give Catnip to a Cat?
Catnip can affect our kitties when they smell it, eat it, lick it or rub against it. Because of that, there are tons of different ways to give catnip to your feline friend!
Catnip toys are probably the most popular way to provide your cat with a catnip high. Not all catnip toys are created the same, though! First, catnip loses its potency after a while, so don’t buy toys that have been on the shelf for a very long time. Look for catnip toys that are densely stuffed with catnip, too. Some toys are stuffed with filler and sprinkled with catnip while others are completely full of catnip and nothing else! Yeowww! catnip toys and Cosmic Catnip toys are two brands we recommend.
Many kitties like to munch on catnip and writhe around on the dried leaves. Dried catnip is handy for training a cat to use a scratching post – just sprinkle some to entice your kitty. It’s so effective, in fact, that many scratching pads include a packet of dried catnip. Just like with toys, dried catnip will lose its potency in time, so make sure what you buy is fresh. From the Field sells ultra-potent catnip in pouches, tubs, and fill-your-own toy kits.
Live Catnip Plants
Believe it or not, most cats prefer dried catnip to the live, fresh kind but they do love to munch on live plants, so why not grow some of your own cat-safe catnip as a way to bring the outdoors in? It’s really easy to grow your own catnip. Here’s how:
1. Get catnip seeds, some potting soil, and a small pot
2. Fill your pot with soil, almost to the top. Then sprinkle the soil with your catnip seeds and add a little more soil on top. Water lightly, twice a day until you start to see your catnip grow. Keep your pot in full sun.
3. While your plant is growing, try to keep it in an area where your cat can’t get to it! We’d hate for kitty to destroy the plant before it’s fully grown!
Catnip grows really quickly in warm weather and will spread rapidly. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of plants for your cat to play with!
Other Catnip Products
While catnip-stuffed toys and dried catnip are the most popular methods of administering the treat to your kitty, there are plenty of other ways for your cat to enjoy it, too:
What if My Cat Doesn’t Like Catnip?
If your cat has no response to catnip, don’t fret! About 30% of the cats who don’t react to catnip will have a catnip-like reaction to Tatarian honeysuckle sawdust, so give it a try! Or try one of the other catnip alternatives and see how your kitty reacts to them. Alternatives include Valerian, Silvervine, Lemongrass, and Cat Thyme.