8 Juicy Secrets About Catnip: The Ultimate Guide for Cat Owners

We all need some time to unwind and treat ourselves after a long day. But have you ever wondered if your beloved feline friend needs a little treat too? Well, the answer is yes! While you’re busy with work or your daily routine, your cat is at home, ruling over her kingdom, hunting down pests, and marking her territory. She deserves a treat as well!

For most cats, there’s nothing better than a few minutes with some fresh catnip or a favorite catnip-infused toy. Catnip, a plant related to mint, contains an essential oil called nepetalactone. This pheromone-like chemical is known to cause euphoric, almost hallucinogenic feelings in cats. But don’t worry, catnip is natural, completely safe, and nonaddictive fun for cats.

How Do Cats React to Catnip?

Cats that have the genetic receptors to feel the effects of catnip are drawn to its smell. They enjoy rolling, chewing, and sometimes even eating it. Catnip can make cats shake their heads, rub against it, and salivate. Some cats will sit in a big pile of dried herb, drooling, with glazed eyes. Others experience a boost in energy, running laps throughout the house. While not all cats are responsive to catnip, it’s estimated that up to 80 percent of cats do feel the elated effect that lasts between 5 and 15 minutes. So, when introducing your cat to the good stuff, consider these simple do’s and don’ts of catnip!

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Catnip’s Benefits

Catnip offers a few benefits that both cats and owners can be excited about:

  • Relaxation: Some cats can enjoy a sedative effect from catnip when eaten. For pets that exhibit stress and anxiety problems, this benefit may be particularly useful. So, the next time you take your cat to the vet, consider giving them some catnip to keep them calm.

  • Pest Repellent: Believe it or not, catnip is an active ingredient found in nepetalactone, which is used to repel pests like mites, ticks, and mosquitos.

  • Training: Put the “Positive” in positive reinforcement by rewarding your cat with catnip during your training efforts. Whether you’re teaching them to stay calm during bath time, nail trimming, or any other task, catnip treats can help them display positive behaviors.

  • Safety: Good news – catnip is non-addictive! Furthermore, its non-toxic qualities mean you can use it regularly without worrying about negative side effects. Just remember that moderation is key. Be careful not to let your cat eat too much at once, as it may upset their stomach.

The Do’s: Unleash the Fun!

Use it as a Treat

Catnip is a healthy and fun treat for your cat. Sprinkle the dried leaves in areas you want your cat to be interested in, like a new cat bed, or spray liquid catnip on a favorite toy.

Give in Small Doses

Remember, it doesn’t take much to stimulate a cat’s senses. A little bit of catnip goes a long way. They will enjoy it for up to 15 minutes before their senses have had enough. If you have multiple cats, make sure there is enough to go around to avoid any competition for the catnip. Try to limit your cat’s exposure to catnip to once a week to prevent them from becoming desensitized.

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Use Products with Catnip

Many cat products have catnip built right into them for instant attraction. Cat towers, scratching posts, and cat toys of all varieties often come pretreated with catnip. Toys like the JW Meet the Famil-ee Catnip Filled Cat Toys, which are filled with natural USA-grown catnip, are great solo play toys that drive cats wild with their erratic bounces as they swat them across the floor.

Use the Live Plant

While dried catnip is effective, fresh catnip is always best. Consider growing live catnip yourself or purchasing fully-grown plants from pet stores. Just remember that catnip is an invasive species, so use a pot or planter to contain it.

The Don’ts: Avoid the Pitfalls

Avoid Giving Catnip to Aggressive Cats

Some cats are just bullies and prone to aggression. Giving catnip to such cats can make them grumpy and may lead to aggressive behavior. For the safety of everyone involved, it’s best to avoid giving catnip to aggressive cats.

Don’t Give Too Much

As with anything, moderation is key. Too much exposure to catnip can make your cat cranky or even nauseous. While there’s very little chance of your cat overdosing on catnip, if they look like they’ve had enough, simply take the catnip or catnip toy away from them.

Not all Cats are Interested, so don’t Force It

Some cats lack an attraction to catnip, about 20 percent of them. Additionally, kittens and senior cats tend not to respond as much, or at all, to catnip. Test your cat’s attraction to catnip before purchasing catnip-infused products.

Methods for Giving Your Cat Catnip

Now that you know the benefits of catnip and how to use it with your cat, you’re probably eager to get started. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways you can give it to your cat, which means you can experiment with each method until you find the one that your feline likes most.

  1. Using Dried Catnip: Place the dried herb onto your cat’s favorite toy, scratching post, bed, or anything else as a treat or training tool.

  2. Using Catnip Plants: Purchase live catnip plants from pet stores and sprinkle them in various places to provide your cat with the freshest catnip possible.

  3. Using Catnip Toys: Catnip toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes designed to keep your cat entertained. Explore the wide variety of catnip-infused toys available.

  4. Using Catnip Balls: Gift your cat a solid catnip ball for a different experience. While some cats may get bored quickly, others may enjoy the larger amount of catnip provided.

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Considerations When Buying Catnip

Not all catnip products are created equal. Keep the following considerations in mind to ensure you’re buying the best catnip for your furry friend:

  • USA-grown catnip: Look for catnip products that are USDA-certified organic to ensure they are safe for your cat, as they are strictly regulated and absent of pesticides.

  • Freshness: The effectiveness of catnip largely depends on how fresh it is. Purchase catnip from pet stores that have a high turnover rate.

  • Storage: If you need to save your catnip for later use, freeze-dry it airtight to keep it fresh for longer.

Catnip-infused products are a great way to attract your cat’s interest and take playtime to the next level. By keeping these do’s and don’ts in mind, you can ensure your cat has a positive experience with catnip. For more information on catnip, visit Karen’s Kollars’ blog at karenskollars.net.

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