If you’ve ever watched as a cat”flipped” over fresh catnip perhaps you’ve been struck with the question;”what causes Catnip to affect cats that way?” So what exactly is the reason for what scientists have coined as”the Catnip effect”?
Unfortunately for such curious minds the specific reason of why Catnip affects cats in such a manner remains largely a mystery. There’s nevertheless much that we do understand about Catnip and cats even when we don’t have the ultimate answer of precisely”why?” yet answered.
The Science Stuff
Catnip is scientifically classified as Nepeta cataria and is a perennial herb in the mint family and is in fact also known as”Catmint”. It’s a plant native to Europe but has been exported and is now located around including the United States and Canada.
The active ingredient in Catnip is an oil; Nepetalactone, which can be found in the leaves of this plant. This is the reason you have the ability to locate Catnip in a jar or spray form in some pet stores.
Other Programs For Catnip
Catnip is not only good to stimulate activity in cats, it may also be used by people as an herb for a medicinal tea which may soothe toothaches, help against coughs, and may also perform as a sleeping aid. Furthermore, Catnip can be utilised as an herb on salads or other foods as has been the case for centuries in France.
Catnip affects approximately half of all cats. What determines whether or not a cat will react to Catnip is a genome that’s inherited (or not inherited as the case may be) at birth. Kittens, no matter whether or not they take this genome, do not respond to Catnip until reaching about 3 or 4 months of age and becoming sexually mature. Older cats are also more likely to have a diminished or non-existing reaction to Catnip, which leads scientists to believe that the Catnip effect is based at least partly on sexuality and the response could be something like an aphrodisiac.
Cats that can be traced to regions where Catnip isn’t native seem to be untouched by Catnip. The domesticated housecat is not the only cat that may be affected by Catnip. Larger cats can also be impacted by the Catnip effect, felines such as the bobcat, lynx, tiger and even lion are known to react much the exact same way the common housecat would. It is interesting to note that while Catnip can act as a stimulant when a cat sniffs it, it may conversely act as a relaxant if ingested. Therefore, you may see another, nearly opposite result based on whether your cat chooses to eat the Catnip you supply for him/her or merely sniffs it (the latter being the more typical behavior).
Catnip can prove to be a really helpful tool for a few common issues with your cat. If you’re lucky enough to have a cat that does respond favorably to Catnip then here are a couple of ideas for you and your furry little friend.
Catnip and Lazy Cats:
Catnip can be used to get a lazy cat off his or her butt. Some cats are notoriously lazy, opting to sleep much of their day away in a wonderful golden patch of sunlight on the living room rug, only waking up to eat and gather some essential care from their indulgent owners. If it sounds like your cat, you will soon see (if you haven’t already) that your cat is becoming more and more round. This is generally not a good thing. Catnip may be able to assist. Presenting catnip to your cat encourages activity (obviously provided the cat sniffs instead of ringing the herb).
Many adult cats will react to Catnip in a fashion that looks like their childlike kitten hyperactivity, jumping, playing and running around as if it was given an injection of kitty adrenaline, which in essence, is the situation. If the latter is the case, then this is an adequate amount of exercise and will help keep your cat a bit more svelte than without a Catnip therapy. Moreover, if you leave the Catnip out for a couple hours then your cat may come back to the herb after (an hour or two after the effect has worn off) and again react in an energetic manner. So in this way you may consider Catnip kind of like a kitty energy drink.
If you have a cat that appears bent on the destruction of your furniture then Catnip may again be able to come to the rescue. Cats can be picky about just about anything under the sun including where they would like to sharpen their furniture ruining claws. It is not unusual for a cat to damage or destroy a piece of furniture just because the owners eventually gave up on trying to redirect their cat to the unused cat scratching post that place them back anywhere up to a hundred dollars and more. A good way to try to alter this frustrating and costly behavior is to rub some Catnip or Catnip oil on a scratching post that you are attempting to get the cat to use. Introduce your cat to the recently”Catnipped” scratching post and find out how he/she reacts. If all goes well, your kitty will sniff and inspect the article and begin clawing at it. After a few times (you may have to re-Catnip the article ) hopefully kitty will be trained to use the post rather than the sofa.
Using Catnip with Many Cats
If you’ve never used Catnip earlier and you have more than 1 cat it is advisable to try it out separately on every cat before introducing it to all of your cats at exactly the exact same time. The reason is because Catnip affects some cats in a negative manner causing the cat in question to become aggressive instead of merely playful. Adding it to your cats individually lets you control the situation and maintain a cat that may react aggressively isolated from your other cats. This naturally means avoiding a possible catfight that could lead to broken furniture, hurt kitties (possibly requiring a vet visit), annoyed neighbors (and probably owners), or a combination of all the above.
Growing and Maintaining Catnip
Growing your own Catnip can be rewarding as it can save you money, give you the satisfaction of doing something yourself and ensuring you always get fresh, high quality Catnip for your furry friend. A word of warning however; the exact kitty reaction that you want to cultivate your own Catnip is something to be wary of. If you plan on growing your Catnip out of doors and other cats can access your Catnip garden then be ready for unwelcome feline visitors. This might not be an issue for you , but cats are by nature territorial and in case you’ve got a cat that lives alone without the company of other cats this could prove to be an area of stress for your cat. Even if you keep your cat inside at all times, your cat may get agitated if he/she looks out the window to find another cat frolicking in territory your cat considers their own. If you decide to cultivate your Catnip indoors, take care to keep it out of reach of kitty. Otherwise you’ll likely have Fluffy jumping up on furniture even to the most out of the way place to get access to the tempting herb. Cats are wonderful jumpers and not really known for respecting precious household knick-knacks. So if you do decide to grow it indoors for a kitty which reacts to Catnip, be careful to grow it in a place that your cat won’t be able to access it. An area that you always keep closed to the cat is probably the best solution for indoor increased Catnip.
Should you find that your cat reacts positively to Catnip you should make certain to use it sparingly so as not to dull the effect that can be caused by overexposure. A good guideline is not to treat your kitty more than once a week on average to Catnip.
Given all the positive effects that Catnip may have on your cat you owe it to yourself (and obviously your fluffy little ball of affection) to see how he/she reacts to the strange and well known herb. It will provide enjoyment and exercise for your cat and probably an entertaining show for yourself too. It is a win win situation.