Catnip is a recreational substance for cats’ enjoyment and aids in digestion. Catnip is harmless and non-addictive — so cat owners need not worry. Catnip, a natural member of the mint family, is a perennial herb with the botanical name “Nepeta Cataria.” The catnip plant has a hairy, square stalk. Its green-grey leaves are heart-shaped with scalloped edges. Its flowers grow in spikes, growing about a half-inch long. The active ingredient in the catnip plant that causes cat euphoria is Nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is an essential oil that can be found in the leaves and stems of the catnip plant. Nepetalactone is known to repel mosquitoes and cockroaches. In addition, it’s believed that rats and mice have a strong dislike of catnip.
Cats seem to have a hereditary disposition to the catnip plant, which can trigger euphoria, excitement and relaxation. Cats detect catnip by smell. Cats on catnip tend to sniff, chew, lick, body rub, head shake. Additional reactions may include stretching, drooling, jumping, licking, and more. After 5-15 minutes, sleepiness sets in. Approximately 50-65% of cats experience the positive effects of catnip. Young kittens (less than 8 weeks old) often show an aversion to catnip and aren’t able to enjoy its effects.
The friskiness caused by catnip can give your cat beneficial exercise. In addition, ingesting catnip (up to one tablespoon per day), can give your indoor cat healthy greens he/she wouldn’t get otherwise.
When buying catnip, make sure you buy catnip certified as pesticide-free — without any unwanted chemicals for your beloved cat. In addition, you want catnip with only leaves and flowers — no stems or fillers that have no effect on your cat.