Does your kitty like catnip? Fluffy’s affinity for this curious plant may be one of her most adorable traits. As we all know, catnip has a very interesting—and highly entertaining—effect on our feline pals. Your kitty may run around, roll, meow, or generally just act a bit zany while she is under the influence of catnip. A local San Diego, CA vet lists a few things you may not have known about your pet’s favorite plant in this article.
Also known as catwort and catmint, catnip is technically an herb. It’s a part of the mint family, and is native to Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. However, it can now be found all over North America. Wild plants can grow a few feet tall, and sport pretty white flowers with purple spots. Once it’s dried, it looks a lot like many popular culinary herbs, such as oregano.
It’s actually the oils that are found in catnip’s leaves and stems that cause those adorable reactions we all love watching. These oils contain something called nepetalactone, which triggers a chemical response in Fluffy’s brain. This euphoria is somewhat similar to the effects marijuana and psychedelics have on people. However, the effect is short-lived, usually only lasting a few minutes.
Catnip is completely safe for our feline pals. You also don’t have to be concerned that your cat will overdose. Once the effects start to wear off, your kitty’s brain needs some time to reset before it can once more become susceptible to catnip.
Not all cats are affected by catnip. In fact, about a third of them are immune to it. This includes kittens and sometimes senior cats. However, some kitties just don’t have that catnip gene! If your furball doesn’t seem impressed by catnip, you can try giving her honeysuckle cat toys. For some reason, kitties that aren’t affected by catnip often seem to really enjoy honeysuckle. Just stick with products made for Fluffy.
It isn’t just housecats that react to catnip. Many of Fluffy’s bigger cousins, including cougars, leopards, lynxes, and servals, are also affected. Lions and tigers also enjoy the plant, though it doesn’t affect them as strongly as it does other felines.
Do you have questions about your kitty’s health or care? Contact us, your local San Diego, CA animal clinic, today!