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Cats and Catnip

Anyone who has a cat knows that our feline friends will go absolutely bananas over the herb. Catnip has the appearance of dried grass with similar behavior to the Valerian plant. Cats can’t help but lick, roll and eat it. They may act as though they are on some crazy drugs, but in reality catnip isn’t a drug, and cats cannot be harmed or addicted to it.

Belonging to the mint family, catnip is known in the scientific community as Nepeta Cataria. It is natively found growing in Europe, due to the mild climate. Some people call them catmints, field balms or other names.

Catnip

Catnip is very much like other plants in the mint family. It has a square stem, triangular leaves, tiny white flowers and brown-green leaves. The white flowers bloom during the summer months, giving out a sweet scent. Catnip has a number of herbal benefits that are fantastic for felines.

Read: Herbs A-Z | Historic Uses

Catnip is a huge nervous system stimulant. Nepetalactone, an essential oil, is one of the active molecules in the plant. While it has a sedative effect, it has different impacts on some cats. It copies the scent of a cat pheromone, binding to their smell receptors and causing them to hallucinate and act crazy. However, some cats have different reactions to it. As the cat interacts with it, whether they roll on top of it, chew on it or lick it, more oils are released, creating a stronger reaction as the scent becomes stronger.

The effects that it has on some cats may go on for 10-30 minutes. However, if the cat is exposed to it beyond that, they become less interested and the effect reduces. If you remove the catnip from your feline, and bring it back later, it will behave in the same crazy way.

Harvesting Catnip

Catnip can be harvested at many points in time. The herb is extremely simple to grow. Simply provide the plant with plenty of sunshine and moist sandy-soil. You can harvest the flowers and leaves during the summer. Growing catnip in your garden is a great way to have treats on hand for your precious feline friend. Alternatively, purchase organic catnip online.

Catnip, Cats and the Point

It’s best to provide cats with entertainment, as if they get bored, they like to be obnoxious. They may use the bathroom around the house, scratch at your garden or otherwise mess around. However, once they catch a whiff, they will be happy as a bee. You can rub catnip on other things to distract them for some time. Once your feline has gotten past the initial crazy behavior, they will be drowsy and calm. Some pet owners use catnip to train their cats in certain behaviors.

There are some cats who have no reaction to catnip. They receive these responses through genetics, so it is unlikely that a cat who doesn’t react to catnip will birth a feline who does. Catnip can help not only calm cats, but help to strengthen the bond between human and cat.

Photo by Jennifer Dickert/Flickr

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