Most pet owners are familiar with the adorable sight of their cat rolling around in catnip, and how they seem to react to it. Common behaviors include your cat looking dazed or dazed.
01 While many cats love catnip, all cats respond to catnip in slightly different ways, and some cats don’t respond at all.
02 Catnip releases a chemical called nepetalactone, which targets “pleasure” receptors in cats’ brains, making them feel euphoric.
03 Some cats roll in catnip and rub themselves in it, while others chew and swallow it.
Cats can become super affectionate and need a lot of cuddling and attention. They may suddenly become dizzy and start playing frantically with toys. Only cats — including big cats and domestic cats — seem to be affected by catnip. What’s so special about catnip?
What is catnip?
catnip, or nepeta, It is a common herb all over the world. Native to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, it has become naturalized in North America and New Zealand. Catnip is sometimes called catnip, cat grass, or cat grass. It belongs to the family Lamiaceae.
Other notable herbs that belong to this family include mint, basil, oregano, and thyme. Catnip is also often used by humans for its relaxing properties when ingested. Catnip is found in certain herbs and herbal drinks.
Catnip is a perennial plant that, if left to its own devices, can grow into a beautiful large bush with purple-white or pink flowers. Bees and butterflies are attracted to it. It is also known to have some insect-repelling properties, making it an attractive option for gardeners to use in vegetable crops to deter pests from damaging crops. Ironically, because it is such a prolific plant, some people consider it a weed.
Catnip is unique in that it contains an active compound called nepetalactone. This chemical affects our cats in several specific ways. Nepetalactone causes cats to experience an overwhelming euphoria.
We think catnip targets receptors in the feline brain to make your cat feel happy and euphoric. That’s because it’s a molecule that’s very similar in shape to some of the pheromones cats release when they’re getting ready to mate.
In a roundabout way, it can make the cat feel like it’s being sexually stimulated. This affects cats whether they have been neutered or not. It’s not just our house cats that are affected by catnip. So do big cats in the wild. This includes tigers, lions, lynxes and bobcats.
The Evolutionary Reason Cats Like Catnip
There are two theories as to why cats are attracted to catnip
1. Cats in the wild will benefit from the repellent properties of catnip. It is thought that when cats paw at catnip leaves and play with them, molecules called iridoids are released. This encases the cat in the repellent substance.
If cats have been exposed to catnip recently, they are less likely to be infected with mites and insect parasites or to be bitten by mosquitoes. Parasites are, by definition, bad for your cat’s health, so it would be great if they could spend their own money getting rid of these pests.
2. The second reason is that it is believed that some oils in the plant can mask the cat’s own smell. Cats in the wild rely on hunting for food. If their prey can smell them long before they see them, they will have an advantage over our cats and reduce their hunting efficiency.
Not all cats like catnip!
Surprisingly, not all cats go crazy for catnip. It has no effect on some cats. Young cats and kittens do not seem to respond to this. Some adult cats are also unresponsive. It is thought to be determined by genetics.
If your cat isn’t showing any euphoric or manic behavior at 6 months of age, it’s unlikely they will be there later. If your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, don’t panic, there are other options you can try.
Alternatives to Catnip
There are several alternatives to catnip that are thought to have similar effects on cats. These are as follows:
1. Silver Vine
This plant contains chemicals that are not much different from nepetalactone. They generally have the same effects on cats as catnip. Interestingly, silver vines are very attractive to some cats who have noticed no reaction at all to catnip.
2. Valerian root
Some cats like to smell valerian root. It can make them feel excited and euphoric. Some cats do not have the genetic makeup that makes them respond to catnip, and it is thought that valerian can be a good substitute.
3. Indian nettle
Cats love to chew on the root of this plant, which is believed to have medicinal properties. Cats go crazy for it and have a similar reaction to catnip!
4. Tartary honeysuckle
Native to Siberia, this plant can be found in woodlands or in your yard. If left alone, it forms a large bush of pink flowers. Many cats love the smell and stimulation this plant gives them.
Also Read: 10 Plants That Are Poisonous And Poisonous To Cats
Benefits of Catnip
Catnip can do us good when it comes to interacting with our cats. Here are some ways catnip can be used to help cats.
1. Encourage cats to play
Catnip toys are a great way to entice your cat to play with you or play alone. Make sure you rotate their toys so they are not exposed to the same toys all the time, as they may become immune to the effects of catnip. Catnip spray can bring old toys back to life! Some other toys have refillable sections that you can fill up too.
2. Prevent bad behavior in the home
For example, if your cats are constantly scratching furniture in your home and you spend a lot of money on a scratching post and they ignore it, rub catnip on it and they will be attracted to the post, not yours on the sofa.
3. Behavioral problems in anxious cats
Some cats may be shy or anxious and often hide, for example, if they have been recently rescued or relocated. If you keep catnip toys around for them to find, or place them in their favorite hiding places, they may start playing and interacting with you or other cats in the house after inhaling the catnip.
4. Overweight cat
Cats are notoriously harder to exercise than dogs! With dogs, you can take them for a walk, which they usually like. Cats are not that simple! If you need to get your cat to lose weight and want them to move more, catnip toys are a great way to stimulate them. They’ll have fun playing and burn some extra calories in the process.
Also read: Cat Obesity Chart: Know If Your Cat Is Obese
5. Make cats happy
If you’re worried about your cat feeling lonely or not being entertained when you’re outside, introducing catnip toys may be your answer. If you only leave it outside when you’re leaving, it can be a special toy for them to interact with while you’re away.
Also read: 12 Signs of a Very Happy Cat
Catnip: Final Thoughts
Catnip is known for its effects on cats, although it doesn’t work on all cats — some cats are immune to its abilities. If your cat seems indifferent to catnip, there is nothing to worry about. There’s some interesting science behind how it works.
Catnip is readily absorbed through the nasal mucosa, which is thought to be where it works best. It doesn’t seem to have the same effects when ingested by cats, so catnip treats or food supplements may not have the same effects as catnip stuffed toys or loose catnip.
Also read: Best Tranquilizers for Cats
frequently asked questions
Do cats get excited rolling in catnip?
Cat acts as if excited after rolling in catnip. That’s because, well — they’re tall! The nepetalactone in catnip attracts cats, and when inhaled, it binds to receptors in the cat’s nasal passages, causing the cat to exhibit euphoric behavior.
Can cats overdose on catnip?
Catnip is primarily a pleasure rather than a pain for cats. It’s relatively harmless, and cats are unlikely to “overdose” by rubbing too much in it. However, it’s important to note that cats can get sick from ingesting too much of the herb – it can cause stomach upset, including vomiting and diarrhea – so don’t give your cat too much catnip.
Do cats eat catnip or just wallow in it?
Cats that are lucky enough to have receptors that respond to catnip will be forced to do things differently when exposed to catnip. Some cats will roll in it and rub against it. Some cats scratch and sniff. Some become frantic, growling or meowing. Some cats like to chew, lick and swallow. It really depends on the individual cat.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
Leave a Reply