Cat toys stuffed with catnip are a hot seller in pet stores. All cat owners know their cats go crazy around catnip. Ever thought why?
Here are some fun facts about catnip and why your cat loves it!
Catnip is an herb from the mint family. Its Latin name is ‘Nepeta cataria.’ It grows across Europe, Africa and Asia as well as in North America.
Other names for catnip are ‘catmint’ and ‘catwort;’ which tells us that cats have been in love with its fragrance for many centuries!
There are 250 different types of catnip growing in the world today. Nobody has as yet sorted these out into gourmet and ordinary categories. Perhaps they should!
A full grown catnip plant is around 2-3 feet high. It has heart shaped leaves and produces blue, white, purple or pink flowers.
So where does the fragrance come in?
The buds, leaves and stems of the catnip plant produce an oil called nepetalactone. This is what drives cats wild. Feline receptors that detect pheromones are stimulated when cats get a whiff of nepetalactone. The effect on your cat is similar to that of a hallucinogenic drug on humans. Don’t be surprised when your cat acts crazy around catnip. Your cat will lick, rub and roll on catnip or catnip stuffed toys.
How long does the high last? Anywhere between 5-15 minutes. Your cat will stroll off and return later and return to the catnip after around an hour.
Sniffing catnip will stimulate your cat. Nibbling on catnip will have a soothing sedative effect.
Big cats like lions, tigers, bobcats, lions, lynx and leopards also go crazy over catnip. Apparently it’s a cat thing.
Catnip is nature’s legal high for cats. It’s not addictive and has no harmful side effects, so feel free to indulge your felines.
Did you know that nepetalactone is that is an insect repellent? Mosquitoes, cockroaches, flies and other insects stay well away from nepetalactone. There’s no point using it as a topical repellent though, since it loses its insect repelling efficacy when applied on the skin.
Humans have used catnip for centuries as a treatment for headaches, colic, fevers and other ailments. Catnip is a natural sedative for humans as well as cats.
Chefs in 15th century England rubbed catnip on meat before roasting it and added it to salads. Catnip tea was the brew of choice for many long before Chinese tea became popular!
If you have cats you can try your hand at growing your own catnip. It can be grown from seeds or seedlings. The plant needs plenty of room to spread. It does best growing in a porous soil with plenty of sunlight. After harvesting the plants dry them by hanging them upside down in a dry, dark space.
The internet is full of catnip toys and products, from organic buds and leaves, to sprays. Check the links below if you’d like to indulge your cat!