What Catnips Do To Cat

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Catnip is the king of cat herbs which are globally known throughout the world due to its use of stimulating cats (source). Catnips are used widely for cat-care industry from making cat pillow or selling fresh leaves, from sniffing or feeding cats. Catnips, in general, affect not all cats but majority and in different ways depending on how are cats and how they consume cat-mint.


These writing work combined separate ideas and knowledges and experiences from studies and cat owners to get general view of what catnip can do to cats and furthermore, dig into cats consumption frequency of catmint.

 What is Catnip?

The scientific name for Catnip is Nepeta cataria, or normally known as cat-mint. The plant belongs to the mint family and was first found in areas of Europe, Africa and Asia then later imported to be grown in North America (source).

In nature, catnip can be grown up to 3 feet high. There is a chemical component found found in the stems and leaves called Nepetalactone which attracts cats and make them feel "high". 

There are a few other plants that have a similar effect to cats, just like catnip, such as: alerian root, silver vine, and Tatarian honeysuckle.

Does Catnip Effect All Cats?

According to scientific studies, not all cats are interested in catmint, the number will fall in about 50 to 75 %, and they are not classified by breeds or genders. 

Cat’s behaviors to catmints are mostly generically inherited. Some cats do not even react a little bit to catnip during any circumstances, but some will be over affected.

Moreover, Nepetalactone only works with biologically mature cats. That means under six or eight weeks, kittens may be immune to catnip.

For the length of effects, catnip work in about ten minutes at any level of stimuli. After that, cats will be under recovering period of about one hour when they will no longer be affected by that plant.

How Does Catnip Effect Cats?

It's important to note that some cats won't be effected by catnip at all, while others will be sensitive to this herb. Kittens won't experience any changes from catnip until they become 3 to 6 months old. 

Felines are attracted to the volatile oil (an oil that evaporates in the air), which is given off by the chemical Nepetaloctone.


Usually, cats will first smell and sniff catmint, which will make them lick and try to eat the plant, as well as roll on the floor. The more they crush the plant, the more Nepetaloctone is vented, and your cat may start to rub it's cheeks and chin on the plant, and feel very excited. 

Calming effect

In some cases, felines may actually feel calmer and mellow after being exposed to the plant.

The effect last about 10 minutes, so it wears off very soon, after which for the next two hours your feline won't be affected at all. 

How Does Catnip Effect a Cat's Brain?

The Nepetaloctone will enter a cat's nose, and from the nasal channel, the scent tie up certain receptors, commonly, rouse sensory cells in brain for further stimuli. The front brain, where sensing processes are analyzed, will be in charge of tacking scent.

Special Nepetalactone excite some regions of the brain where behavioral and emotional responses to stimuli are under control, amygdala and hypothalamus. The responses of these regions come out, as people can see, over excitement and instant rubbing of head and body.

Can Cats Eat Catnip?

Yes, cats and kittens can eat catnip, and in this case it will act as a sedative. Be careful that your feline doesn't eat too much, otherwise it may cause diarrhea and vomiting. 

It is non-addictive, so you may consider growing some in your garden or as a house plant. If you decide to grow it in your garden, remember that this is a vigorous grower, and may invade your garden like a weed.

3. Cats reaction to catnips 

Because of not every cat interest in catnip and the reaction varies in genes so there are many way of behaviors we can notice from them.

If cats do not enjoy catnip, they will walk away to find another toy. People can see clear and decisive ignorance from their action. If it happens, however many times you try, they will not get stimulated.

If cats are attracted by Nepetalactone produced from scent of mint, they will be exposed to the plant. Normally, they will rub leaves or things containing catmint in order to vent more stimuli. If stuffs are leaves or something eatable, cats will lick or chew, then reaction will raise as it could be. In some case, catnips are used to manufacture cat toys such as pillow or carpet, in front of unable-to-eat stuffs, cats doing only thing is rubbing or crumbling to release more and more scent. Cats will specially enjoy playing with those toys.

Pros and cons of using catnips to cats 

Catnip belongs to mint family, a kind of herb so referring from its natural origin, catnip promises not to harm your cats. In speak of pros, catnip stimulate cats brain and behaviors in slight and harm-free way, make your cats relaxing and free in mind, at some point, body or head rubbing after excitement may help cats exercise.

It will stimulate a cat's brain, and make them feel excited and 

However, too much is not always good. Eating too much catnip may affect cat digestion, which can be signaled by vomiting or headache due to too strong scent. Strong and long absorption of scent will motivate aggression inside cats, actions of rubbing seems to be normal at first then may become abnormal and out of control.

People has imported catnip through continents for consumption. They use catnip to produce not only tea for people but toys and foods for cats. These catnip products come to real life as a stimulation for cat relief and relaxing therapy. By containing itself unique chemical Nepetalactone, catnips affect cats from touch to whole body reaction. However, cat owners need to know that not all cats get excited by catmints or related products and only cats reaching sexual maturity may be affected. The process of catnip effects to cats describe different level of excitement and activities of cats going through four stages along with procedures of processing scent form nasal entrance to specific brain regions.

Cat owners also should consider about dosage and frequency of consuming catnip, or it could be unhealthy to cats.

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