All About Catnip and Your Cat

Catnip is very common, and it’s included in many toys, scratching posts, and other items for our feline friends. But how much do you really know about our cats’ favorite plant? Your Farmers Branch, TX vet fills you in below.

What is Catnip, Exactly?

Catnip is an herb, sharing many similarities to herbs in your spice garden like mint and basil. It grows in the wild and can be found all over North America. The wild plant is processed into “raw” catnip, which looks similar to oregano or other dried spices. Catnip can be sold in “raw” form to be sprinkled near your pet, or it may be included in toys or even infused into sprays and other products.

How Does Catnip Affect Cats?

Different cats respond in different ways when they’re exposed to catnip. Some simply stretch out in a state of bliss and relax, while others will dart excitedly this way and that. Many cats will rub their faces or bodies in the area where raw catnip has been sprinkled. It all simply depends on the cat!

Why Does Catnip Affect Cats?

The source of the reaction that catnip causes is found in a chemical substance that comes from the catnip plant’s stem and leaves. This substance is called nepetalactone, and it triggers a chemical response in your cat’s brain. The area of the brain that’s triggered is the same one that causes sexual responses—that’s why some experts believe that catnip is a sort of feline aphrodisiac!

Have you tried catnip on your cat without seeing anything happen? Don’t worry—your cat isn’t broken or sick, they just don’t have the proper gene in their DNA. It turns out that cats require a particular gene, inherited from both of the parents, to experience the effects of catnip. If your cat doesn’t have this gene, catnip won’t result in much of anything.

Is Catnip Safe?

Yes, catnip is perfectly safe for your feline friend. The chemical reaction that occurs because of nepetalactone isn’t harmful in the least, and the effects will usually wear off after only a few short minutes. Also, your cat can’t become addicted to the herb or experience an overdose, so give your cat catnip as often as you would like to.

Does your cat need veterinary care? Schedule your companion’s next office appointment at your Farmers Branch, TX pet clinic. We’re here to help!

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