Your Catnip FAQs

Your Catnip FAQs

Many of our cats love to encounter their preferred indulgence: catnip. You’ve undoubtedly heard of catnip, but how much do you really know about it? Below, your Marshall, TX veterinarian answers your most frequently asked questions regarding your cat’s favorite plant.

What Exactly is Catnip?

Catnip is actually an herb, just like the basil or mint growing in your garden. (Catnip is actually categorized in the same plant “family” as mint!) The wild plant can grow several feet high and is characterized by white flowers with purple spots. In a pet store or retail outlet, you’ll find a dried and processed version of the wild plant; this is “raw” catnip, which looks like the dried oregano or thyme in your kitchen cabinets. In addition to raw catnip, you can also purchase toys infused with catnip as well as sprays and other products.

Is Catnip Harmful?

No, catnip does not cause your cat harm in any way. Your pet cannot “overdose” on catnip, and they can’t become addicted. Feel free to give your feline friend catnip as often as you’d like!

How Do Cats Normally React?

Some cats become very excited and dart to and fro, perhaps batting a catnip toy around the floor. Others will rub their faces and bodies in the area where catnip has been sprinkled. Still other cats simply stretch out on the floor, limbs spread eagle, in a state of bliss!

The effects of catnip typically don’t last very long. In a few short minutes, your cat’s euphoria will be over and Fluffy will be back to normal. Raw catnip tends to be the most potent form, and will probably result in the longest effect.

Why Does Catnip Affect Cats?

The oils of the catnip plant contain a chemical substance called nepetalactone. It’s this substance that triggers a chemical reaction in your cat’s brain, leading to the reactions you’ll see out of Fluffy. Catnip affects the same part of the brain that sexual responses come from; some experts see catnip as a sort of feline aphrodisiac, as it results in a nearly sexual response in your cat’s brain!

Why Doesn’t My Cat React?

Does your cat fail to respond to catnip? Don’t worry! Cats actually require a specific gene to feel catnip’s effects. If they don’t possess it, catnip won’t have any impact at all!

To learn more about catnip, call your Marshall, TX pet clinic.

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