Here's Why Most Cats Find Nip Irresistible
Catnip (Nepata cataria) is a perennial herb and a close relative of mint that makes cats love it even by simply smelling it. Felines get so excited over it that the plant is often referred to as “cat weed” or “cat crack”. However, unlike real weed, catnip doesn’t cause a psychoactive effect like THC and is not addictive.
What Does Catnip Do to (Most) Cats
Scientists have found that Catnip contains oils that get released when the plant is touched or rubbed vigorously, Scientist agree that the primary ingredient and the reason for the reactions is called nepetalactone.
This chemical makes most cats euphoric and frisky, but felines need to be hardwired genetically to have a reaction to it. It is estimated that 10% to 30% of cats are immune to catnip. Cats that love catnip can at times have a psychosexual-like reaction to the herb. They may start smelling it, licking and chewing it, they may roll in it and rub it on their faces and body. The reactions differ from one cat to another.
It is estimated that the cat will feel the effect for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on the cat’s age and the strength of the nip. After the euphoric feeling is gone, cats lose all interest in the nip for about 90 minutes.
In some instances catnip acts as a sedative when eaten and can help calm a cat. When smelled, the herb acts as a stimulant, getting the animals hyperactive and very playful. Catnip helps cats have fun and unwind in a completely natural and non-addictive way and their reaction to it is always fun to watch.
What’s the Best Way to Use Catnip?
Catnip can be used as a training add-on, a treat, or sedative. If your cat routinely misbehaves, you can reinforce good behavior by rewarding it with catnip whenever it does the right thing. Oftentimes, catnip is more enticing than a conventional treat for most cats.
Also, catnip can be used to break the ice with an anxious cat. If your cat is shy or stubbornly refuses to feel at home with you, you can rub some nip on the toys that it refuses to interact with to get it use to them.
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But let’s get back to catnip. Cats that have the genes to respond to catnip will enjoy the feeling they receive from smelling, rolling or eating catnip. For maximum freshness, you can store catnip in the fridge, even if it's dried.
When administering catnip, don’t overdo it. Cats' outstanding olfactory system can sense catnip at concentrations of a single part per million in the air. So, a little goes a very long way when it comes to catnip. To much exposure to catnip can boost the risk of nausea, crankiness and aggressiveness. Never force a cat to interact with catnip if they have no interest.
You can also add catnip to your four-legged pal’s toys and scratching posts to boost the excitement. Some toys and scratch posts come pre-treated with the nip, but we recommend buying it separately to prevent quality issues.
Another word of advice is not to give catnip to cats with a long history of aggression. In aggressive cats, the plant seems to remove all their inhibitions, which might make them even more aggressive. Catnip may also make some cats aggressive because it is linked to their mating behavior. Use the plant sparingly at first and watch your cat’s reaction to various doses as you increase the amount.
Some Cats Are Naturally Immune to Catnip
Don’t force catnip on your kitten if it shows no interest in it. Cats younger than 6-8 weeks are naturally immune to the herb as they haven’t reached sexual maturity. Older cats might lose sensitivity to the effect of catnip while around 10% to 30% of cats are not genetically wired to like catnip. Before you jump on board the catnip bandwagon and invest generously in various catnip-infused products, make sure that your fluffy companion is as excited about the idea as you are.