What causes the catnip effect, why do cats react in to it they way they do?
Your cat, your loving and lovable family pet is not usually what you would call a bundle of energy. In fact she spends a good deal of the day taking a siesta.
When she moves she does so at her own pace and in her own time.
But should your sedate kitty have a whiff of catnip . . .
. . well, wop bop a lula blim bam boom! The party is on baby.
Suddenly your cat is rollicking and rolling around, frisky, excited and running about as if the effect of the catnip has turned back the clock and she is a kitten once again.
Then as little as two, but up to fifteen minutes later your cat is back to her slothful, normal self, the effect completely worn off.
First, not all cats do react to catnip. It is estimated that one third to one half of the domestic cat population is unaffected by the herb. The reaction to catnip is inherited.
Kittens that have only one parent that reacts, have a one in two chance of reacting themselves, and kittens that have parents that both react have a three in four chance.
Kittens under three to four months old do not usually react to catnip at all, and with older cats the catnip effect is considerably lessened.
Also, if a cat that would normally have a reaction to catnip is in a threatening situation, or is outside of its usual surroundings, it may not respond to the catnip.
Anyway, as to what causes the catnip effect, the experts do know that nepetalactone, an oil found in catnip, causes cats that are sensitive to it to go ga-ga.
What they don't know is why certain cats react that way.
It's not just the domestic cat that can experience the catnip effect. Big cats too can react to it; lions, leopards, cheetahs and pumas can get catnip high but interestingly not tigers.
When a cat finds catnip it will usually sniff at it, rub up against it, lick it and nibble at it.
It is the sniffing at it that gets the reaction, it is thought that cats nibble and rub against the catnip to bruise it and thereby cause more of the nepetalactone oil to be released. Strangely, if a cat actually eats the catnip it will likely act as a sedative as opposed to giving the kitty a high.
So, is catnip dangerous for your kitty? After all, the response that some felines have to catnip is not unlike the response that some humans have to stuff that they shouldn't smoke.
Although it is said that catnip is bio-chemically related to cannabis cats will come to no harm by enjoying it and will not become dependent.
The effect of the herb very seldom lasts longer than 15 minutes maximum until the cat loses interest. After this a cat will not react again for a minimum of one hour.
Not all cats react to the herb in exactly the same way though. The typical response is an uninhibited friskiness and silliness, but a few cats, usually male, become aggressive, or irritable, rather than frisky.
Catnip has long been thought safe for humans. It has been prescribed by herbalists to treat nervousness, stomach complaints, flatulence, and even smallpox! Its leaves have been chewed to relieve toothache and it has been drunk as a tea as a cough remedy.
Catnip in the form of a poultice has been recommended to reduce swellings and as an ointment to relieve piles.
The catnip effect is not dangerous for cats rather it is a very effective kitty treat for some felines, those that are susceptible to it, to enjoy.
Ideal for refilling catnip toys or just place in a paper bag for your cat to play with.
The size and shape of this toy invite cats to capture it as prey and kick it with their back feet.
Cats are attracted to both the catnip and the crinkle sound of these toys.
Growing Catnip – How to grow your cat's favorite herb.
Growing catnip means your cat has all she needs of the fresh stuff that sends her ga-ga. In winter she can enjoy the home dried herb, more potent than store bought.