Here at K9Cuisine, we love dogs (it's in our name!), but we also like to give some attention to our feline friends, too. Today's blog is dedicated to the special cat(s) in your life—it's all about catnip! Here are some of the good-to-know facts and tips about catnip, so the next time you give your cat a little treat to unwind, you'll know all about it.
What Actually is Catnip?
Many people are familiar with catnip as the plant that will give their cat a natural high, but not as many are familiar with where it actually comes from. Did you know that catnip is part of the mint family? It originates from the Mediterranean and North African region, and today it grows wild all across Europe and North America. The plant has small leaves with saw-toothed edges, and in the wild the plant attracts butterflies. You can even grow some in your own garden!
How Does Catnip Work?
The potent chemcial in catnip that makes it so magic is nepetalactone. Cats can smell even the tiniest amount of this chemical, which is why your cat will come running the minute you open his bag of catnip! It is believed that nepetalactone mimics natural cat pheromones, perhaps the ones given off during mating, which is why your cat seems to have such a shift in demeanor when given catnip.
Does Catnip Work on All Cats?
Surprisingly, not all cats will respond to catnip, although most do. Being susceptible to the effects of catnip is actually a genetric trait, and somewhere around 25 - 30% of cats don't have this gene. It shouldn't be too hard to tell if your cat is one of those cats or not. If you give hime some catnip, it will be pretty obvious by his reaction (or lack of reaction) whether or not he has the "catnip gene." Interestingly enough, even within cats who are responsive to catnip, reactions vary from cat to cat. Some cats will get tons of energy and run around the house, while some cats will become extremely mellow and relaxed.
Is It Possible to Give My Cat Too Much Catnip?
There is no such thing as a "catnip overdose," although your cat can feel nauseous if he eats too much. Luckily, most cats will walk away when they've had their fair share of catnip, but it's always good practice to never leave it out, and only use catnip every couple of weeks. You don't want to use catnip too often or for too long, or else your cat can become desensitized to it.
What Is the Best Way to Give My Cat Catnip?
There's no one answer to this—the answer is whatever works best for you and whatever your cat enjoys the most. Some cats will love if you give them a catnip-infused toy, while others will go crazy if your rub it on their scratching post! If you buy a bag of catnip, consider putting a small amount in a sock and tying a knot. This keeps it from being too messy, and you won't have to spend your time trying to get the catnip out of your cat's fur. If you're feeling ambitious, you can try growing your own catnip! Make sure the plant is kept away from your cat (or else he'll dig the whole thing up in no time!) and when it's time to play with it, cut a few leaves off. To entice your cat even more, try crushing the leaves a bit to release the oils and smell.
How Should I Store Catnip?
Make sure you store your catnip or catnip-infused toys in an airtight container. This will help it last for several months. If you would like to further preserve freshness, you can even store the container in the freezer.
Now that you know the ins and outs of catnip, it's time to go buy some for your furry friend! Let us know in the comments if your cat is a catnip lover!