Why Cats Lose Their Minds Over Catnip


If you have a cat, you know that some can be crazy over catnip. And we mean absolutely bananas crazy over the simple green herb.

We mean, there’s a reason they stuff their toys and beds full of the stuff!

So, what does catnip do to cats?

What is it?

With a leafy green appearance, catnip is a perennial herb in the mint family that produces an essential oil called nepetalactone. This oil can make even lethargic cats a crazy ball of fur. But only if they have inherited sensitivity to the plant.

Believe it or not, it is estimated that 50% of cats have a sensitivity to catnip.

Catnip sensitivity doesn’t usually show in a cat until between the ages of three to six months old. Before three months old, kittens usually show no reaction to catnip.

Sniffable AND Edible!

Cat’s first reaction to catnip happens when they get a whiff of it. Once they smell catnip, researchers believe “happy” receptors in their feline brains are triggered, making them go crazy.

However, catnip has a totally different effect on cats when they eat it. When eaten, catnip makes a cat pretty calm.

Cats react to catnip in different ways. They roll, rub, and flip around in it. Sometimes, they may growl or meow before zoning out. Others may act hostile or hyperactive when approached while playing with catnip.

Most cats only play with catnip for about 10 minutes before they become uninterested and it could take them up to two hours to become susceptible to the effects of catnip again.

Cats probably won’t overdose on catnip, but they could overindulge, getting sick if they eat too much of it. Your cat will probably know when they’ve had enough.

For Humans, Too!

Did you know that catnip wasn’t just for cats? For centuries, catnip has been grown in medicinal gardens because it can have a tranquilizing effect on humans, as well!

Catnip can be made into a tea that produces calming effects, much like chamomile. Plus, the essential oil it produces, nepetalactone, is a great mosquito repellent. However, it only lasts for a couple of hours.

Its Freshness Doesn’t Last

Make sure to store your catnip in an airtight container and put it in the freezer because it does lose its potency over time. Doing this will help it last longer!

As you can see, catnip is a potent herb that some cats absolutely love. Even if your cat isn’t too enthusiastic about the herb, now you know why some are crazy over it as we’ve answered the age-old question “What does catnip do to cats?”.