All about catnip: what it is, how it works and catnip benefits

 All about catnip: what it is, how it works and catnip benefits

Tracy Wilkins

Catnip is a well-known plant in the feline universe for several reasons. In addition to contributing to the well-being of kittens, the plant - which is also called cat grass - enhances the animal's senses and serves as a stimulant with varied effects. Most of the time, it awakens a very active side in kittens. No wonder that, nowadays, there are several toys and accessorieswhich already comes with a little bit of cat grass inside to make any playtime even more fun.

Although it is a very beneficial plant, some guardians feel insecure before offering catnip to their cat because they do not understand very well how it works or if it is something that can be harmful to these animals. So that there are no doubts about the product, we have separated everything you need to know about catnip. Check below what catnip is, what it is for, effects, myths and truths aboutthe plant and how best to insert it into your pet's routine.

What is catnip anyway?

Catnip, cat grass or catnip herb is the same thing: it is a medicinal plant belonging to the mint and spearmint family, which receives the scientific name Nepeta cataria. Native to Europe and southwestern Central Asia, cat grass begins to bloom in late spring and lasts until autumn, revealing flowers in lilac and pink colors. It has become popular in veterinary medicinemainly because of its calming effects on felines.

Catnip basically works as follows: when smelling catnip, the cat inhales a substance called Neptalactone that acts on its nervous system and causes certain stimuli, triggering the hunting instinct of these animals. This causes changes in the animal's behavior, but not in a bad way. Contrary to what some people may think, catnip or cat grass does not act in the same way as the same way as tobacco or cannabis, for example, and therefore does not cause harmful effects on the pet's health or integrity - nor does it cause addiction.

The stimuli act mainly on the cat's sense of smell and on the hypothalamus, the organ of the central nervous system responsible for the animal's reactions. It "activates" the cat's wild instincts and is a great way to make it smarter.

What is cat grass used for and what are its effects on animals?

Catnip is nothing more than a feline stimulant, meaning that it serves to provoke certain stimuli, which consequently modifies the behaviour of your four-legged friend momentarily. What few people know is that the effects of catnip vary according to each animal. If you have a very agitated, stressed or aggressive kitten, catnip will help him to be calmer and more aggressive.On the other hand, when the animal is more sedentary and lazy, cat grass helps to make it more lively and excited, being great for encouraging movement and physical activity in the pet.

Among the most common cat behaviors after contact with the herb, we can mention:

  • Climbing high places
  • Running around the house
  • Want to play all the time
  • Meowing in a different way
  • Seek more contact with the plant (such as rolling on it or rubbing against it)

The effects last for approximately 5 to 20 minutes after the animal comes into contact with the catnip. After the euphoria, kittens often become tired and very sleepy - which is completely normal, after all, they spend a lot of energy in the meantime.

7 benefits of catnip herb for felines

In addition to being a way to entertain and stimulate the feline senses, catnip has several benefits for the health and well-being of pets. Find out what they are:

See_also: How to clean cat ears: here's how pet ear wax remover works

1) Catnip relaxes and calms animals with aggressive or very agitated behavior;

2) It's a way to get kittens more active and less sedentary;

3) It helps to release tension and keep stress away from cats;

4) Increases the well-being of felines;

5) Stimulates the pet's cognitive abilities;

6) Promotes healthier and more active ageing;

7) Assists in cat training.

See_also: Can dogs sleep in the yard?

Here are some common questions about catnip!

Can the animal become dependent on catnip?

No. Catnip does not cause addiction or chemical dependence, and is therefore not considered a drug. The only thing that can happen is that if the catnip is overused in the feline's routine, he may end up becoming more resistant to its effects.

Are there any contraindications to the use of catnip?

No. As the plant does not cause any harm to animal health, any kitten can use catnip, as long as the whole process is supervised by their guardians. In addition, the recommendation is that only felines over four months of age use the herb for safety reasons.

My cat used catnip but it had no effect, why did this happen?

Catnip always causes a certain expectation in guardians, who expect funny and unusual behaviour from their four-legged friend. However, this is not always the case: in some cases, kittens simply seem to have no reaction after contact with the plant. Is this normal? The answer is yes. Not all animals are affected by catnip, and the explanation isfor this are genetic factors.

Does cat grass have any effect on humans?

No. As the name of the plant implies, catnip causes changes only in the behavior of cats. But of course every human is much happier to see their pet equally happy after contact with catnip!

How to use cat grass? 4 ways to insert the plant into the pet's routine

1) Make catnip cat toys. This is a simple and practical way to amuse your pet: you can improvise a cool and fun cat toy for him. Some options are balls made from toilet paper roll and the famous cat wands.

2) Buy toys that already have catnip inside. There is no shortage of options for toys and objects that contain catnip in their composition, such as balls, plush and even the cat scratch, a massaging accessory that can be placed on the wall. Just look for what will please your feline the most and give it as a gift.

3) Put some catnip in the scratching posts. Everyone knows that a toy that cannot be missing in a kitten's home is the scratcher. To further encourage natural feline instincts and prevent them from attacking the furniture in the house, a tip is to add a little catnip on the surface of the accessory, leaving the kitten super instigated.

4) Spread catnip in places where the animal has access. This is a special tip for those who have very agitated cats or with traces of aggression: just sprinkle some catnip on the bed, hammock or cushion that the animal likes to stay on. This will help calm him down (but cannot be overused).

Learn how to grow catnip at home and make your kitty very happy

Now that you know what catnip is, what its benefits are and how to use it, it's time to learn how to plant catnip and have an unlimited supply in the comfort of your home to entertain your friend.

To start, you need to buy catnip seeds, which are usually sold dehydrated and in small bags for cultivation. Then choose a well-ventilated place that receives plenty of sunlight during the day. For those who are going to plant at home or apartment, pots are a great option: 30 cm deep of very soft soil is enough for cultivation. During planting, it isIt is important that the seeds are buried at least 0.5 cm from the surface and with a certain distance between one seed and another. The same applies to seedbeds.

Finally, it is worth remembering that it is necessary to water the grass daily and keep the kitten away from the place where the catnip is being grown until it grows a little. The best time to plant cat grass is during the summer. Oh, and here's a tip: you can also learn how to plant other types of cat grass to further enrich the environment.

Cat grass: price will depend on the format chosen

Whether to grow or simply to use catnip, buying the substance is not something that will require much of your pocket. Some ready-made sachets usually cost between R $ 5 and R $ 10 (some versions, however, can be a little more expensive depending on the brand, costing up to R $ 20). To plant catnip, buying the seeds is the best alternative. The price varies between R $ 10 and R $ 10.If you wish, you can also buy already grown seedlings: in these cases, the price is a little higher, costing around R$ 30.

Tracy Wilkins

Jeremy Cruz is a passionate animal lover and dedicated pet parent. With a background in veterinary medicine, Jeremy has spent years working alongside veterinarians, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience in caring for dogs and cats. His genuine love for animals and commitment to their well-being led him to create the blog Everything you need to know about dogs and cats, where he shares expert advice from veterinarians, owners, and respected experts in the field, including Tracy Wilkins. By combining his expertise in veterinary medicine with insights from other respected professionals, Jeremy aims to provide a comprehensive resource for pet owners, helping them understand and address their beloved pets' needs. Whether it's training tips, health advice, or simply spreading awareness about animal welfare, Jeremy's blog has become a go-to source for pet enthusiasts seeking reliable and compassionate information. Through his writing, Jeremy hopes to inspire others to become more responsible pet owners and create a world where all animals receive the love, care, and respect they deserve.