Is Catnip Safe for My Cat? Can I Give Them too Much?
This is Your Cat’s Brain on Catnip
Cats love catnip. It’s literally named after cats because they love it so much. But how much catnip is too much, and is it completely safe? Owning a cat comes with a lot of new things to consider. So, before you fill your head with catnip conspiracy theories, it’s important to know up front that it’s perfectly safe and non-addictive for your kitty.
What Is Catnip?
Catnip comes from the Nepeta cataria plant, which contains a chemical that triggers physical responses in cats. These responses include everything from big eyes and excitement to sleepiness and increased purring. The effects depend on how your cat consumes the catnip as well as the genetics of your cat. A cat’s sensitivity and response to the herb are inherited traits, so don’t worry if your cat doesn’t react in a specific manner. Owners use catnip as a training tool to encourage their cats to use a new scratching post or to get them used to a new bed. Honestly, how many times have you bought a new bed for your cat, and they decided they’d rather sleep on your sock?
What are the Effects of Catnip?
Again, how your cat reacts to catnip depends on how they consume it. When eaten, it usually has a mellowing effect on cats. When cats sniff or inhale catnip, it has a more stimulating effect, which is probably the reaction you’ve seen before. If you live in a multi-cat household, you should test how catnip affects each cat individually before offering it to your entire cat party. You don’t want one cat having an adverse reaction that ends up affecting your other kitties.
While catnip is non-addictive, its effect can dull due to overexposure. So, while the occasional catnip “high” might be fun, it’s best to avoid a daily catnip routine with your cat. The effects also start to decline as your cat ages. You won’t see the overly exaggerated response you’re used to with older cats.
Are All Cats Affected by It?
It’s entirely possible your cat won’t react at all to catnip. This non-reaction is due to a combination of genetics and preference. It’s similar to how our genetics determine whether we like particular tastes, smells, and textures. If your cat isn’t responding to it, there are catnip-like alternatives that create similar effects. Before giving these herbs and scents to your cat, check with your veterinarian to make sure everything is safe for your particular breed.
Like any good thing, use catnip in moderation. Your cat won’t get addicted to it, but there’s not a good reason to overdo it with the catnip. Did you buy a new scratching post or toy for your kitty? Use catnip to create a positive response to it, and they’ll be scratching that post in no time. You can also use treats in tandem with the catnip to help make the behavioral training stick.