Whether you call it catnip, catswart, or catmint, this plant is named for the animal that loves it the most. Outdoor cats often can be found lounging around this plant or chomping on it anywhere it grows.

But why do felines love this plant so much? For many cats, it gives them a large boost of serotonin and makes them feel “high.” While this might sound like something you should avoid, the truth is that catnip is perfectly safe in moderation. It can even be a wonderful way to keep your cat entertained

How Does Catnip Affect Cats? 

Every cat reacts differently to catnip. Smelling or ingesting the plant makes some cats stimulated and excited. Others might feel sleepy and affectionate, and some are not affected by catnip at all. 

The nepetalactone oil in catnip is what makes most cats go wild. This substance has a behavioral effect on most domestic cats, and some tests show that other members of the cat family (like tigers and cougars) also react to catnip in a similar way. Scientists believe that cats love catnip because its oils mimic the types of pheromones that give cats euphoric sensations.

Is Catnip Safe for Cats? How Much Catnip Is Too Much?

Catnip, or nepeta cataria, is a plant that grows quickly and easily in many areas of the world. It is a member of the mint family and has lovely pink, white, or lavender flowers. Unlike many other plants, the entire catnip plant is safe for your cat’s consumption. 

You can buy catnip as a living plant for your house or garden, but it is most often sold as a dry herb or stuffed into toys to make them more appealing to cats. It is also sold as a spray or an oil. Catnip can help keep your kitty from getting bored while you’re away from home, but you have to be careful how much you give them. Your cat’s threshold for catnip depends on many factors, their age, their stomach sensitivity, and even their personal preferences. We recommend once to three times a week and talking with your veterinarian if you plan on giving your cat more. 

Moderation is suggested for two reasons. First, giving your cat too much might cause an upset stomach, and even cause vomiting, although these cases are rare. The second is that overconsumption causes catnip to lose its efficacy. 

Veterinary Care for Cats In Gilbert, Arizona

Entertainment, good food, and yearly checkups will keep your cat happy and healthy. Here at East Valley Animal Hospital, we treat every cat with the same loving care that we give our own. If you have questions about the safety of catnip, or about how much is enough for your cat, contact us today to schedule an appointment.




Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/5/24). Photo by Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash.