What Is Catnip?
Hi, Bruno here! As a young cat sitter, I had my first experience watching a cat go wild on catnip a few years ago. After that I was intrigued to learn more. Now I'm living in Midtown, Atlanta, writing this for all of the cat owners and cat sitters who have ever wondered just what catnip is and why their cat may or may not experience the sense-tingling effects of the plant.
What is Catnip?
Catnip is an herb related to the mint family of plants and originates from Europe and Asia. The plant contains a chemical called nepetalactone, which is found on the leaves and stems of the plant. Nepatalctone is the chemical that cats find so irresistible. When cats breathe the chemical in, the nepataectone binds to the sensory receptors in the cat's nose causing an emotional and behavioral response from the cat. This is why cats will sniff, roll around in, or even eat catnip.
How Does it Affect Cats?
Most people imagine that cats get "high" off catnip, much to the effects of marijuana or LSD. While the effects are not that intense nor dangerous, cats do experience some of the stereotypical symptoms most people imagine a cat on catnip would have. Some of the most common side effects that cats experience from catnip are drowsiness if ingested, extreme unrest and "craziness" if sniffed, and in some instances anxiety or aggressiveness. If you're a cat sitter and you're freaking out after having given a cat catnip, don't fret...the effects usually only last for 15 minutes on average.
Do All Cats Experience the Same Effects from Catnip?
If you have bought some catnip and are currently wondering why your cat is not having the same reactions as described above, don't fret. It is estimated that anywhere from 30-40% off cats are not affected by catnip. Additionally, catnip is completely safe for your cat to smell or ingest. Some cats may experience vomiting or diarrhea from the catnip, but those side effects will only last temporarily.
Where Can You Buy Catnip
Unlike the human version of catnip, catnip can actually be purchased at any pet retail store, Walmart, or similar store. So order away, and maybe your kitty will love it!