What Is Catnip and Is It Safe for Your Cat?

Is your feline friend crazy for catnip? The popular herb is often associated with amusing and sometimes bizarre cat behaviors. But what exactly is catnip, and is it safe for your furry friend? Here’s all you know about catnip and how it can affect your cat. 

What Is Catnip and How Does It Affect Your Cat? 

Catnip or nepeta cataria is a leafy green perennial herb that’s a member of the mint family. The herbaceous plant has a distinct, pleasant aroma. But what about catnip affects your cat? Catnip contains an oil called nepetalactone that has a euphoric effect on most cats. 

The effects of catnip can vary. Some cats sniff the mild hallucinogen, rub their faces in it, roll around, purr, meow, play, run, scratch, act playful, or just bask in its sheer pleasure. On the flip side, catnip may have a calming, almost sedative effect on some cats. The effects of catnip are typically brief, usually wearing off in about 10 minutes for most cats. It may take about 30 minutes to two hours for your cat’s system to reset and respond to catnip once again. 

It’s a good idea to avoid giving your cat large amounts of catnip. It only takes a small amount of the herb to elicit a pleasurable response. Too much can cause hyperactivity, leaving your cat at risk of injury. The effects of catnip can wear out if offered too often, so it’s best to save this treat for no more than once a week. 

Is Catnip Safe for Cats? 

Catnip is non-toxic and non-addictive to cats. It is considered safe, posing minimal to no risk of serious health problems. However, if your cat overeats catnip, you may have an unhappy feline on your hands with diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, or poor coordination. So, as a precaution, limit this treat and avoid adding it to your cat’s food. 

If your cat has feline asthma, talk to our dedicated team at All About Cats Veterinary Hospital before offering catnip. In some cases, inhaling small particles from catnip can make coughing or wheezing worse. 

Where Can You Find Catnip for Your Cat? 

Most pet stores carry various catnip products, from dried catnip to catnip-filled toys, crunchy treats, dental chews, and even catnip sprays. Remember – always spray liquid catnip on objects – never directly on your cat.

If you’ve got a green thumb, consider growing your catnip (do not use any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides). The plant is relatively easy to grow and can thrive indoors and outdoors. That way, you will always have fresh catnip on hand to keep your fluffy furball entertained and delighted. Keep in mind that the fresher the catnip, the more potent it is, so be sure to keep the plants out of reach. 

Quality Veterinary Care Near Me

If you would like to learn more about catnip or if you have any safety concerns, talk to our experienced veterinary team at All About Cats Animal Hospital in Kirkland, WA. We are happy to answer your questions and address any concerns. You can always count on us for outstanding, compassionate care for your feline friend because, after all, we are all about cats!

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