Is Catnip Bad for Cats?

We have all heard that catnip is simply irresistible to cats, and yet the one question few of us have asked is this: is catnip bad for cats? But first, what exactly is catnip and why do cats go crazy for catnip? Otherwise known as catmint or catswort, the scientific name of catnip is Nepeta cataria, and it is a member of the mint family. This plant belongs to the Lamiaceae family, a type of plant that commonly grows in Europe and Asia. For cats, catnip is used for recreational purposes. Catnip stimulates not only domesticated cats, but bigger cats such as tigers, too.

Why do cats love catnip?

catnipCats actually have varying responses to catnip; some of them pass on it, while others simply love it.  So why do cats like catnip? One ingredient in catnip is what draws many cats in, called Nepetalactone. With cats that like catnip, the organ that controls the sense of taste, smell, tough, sight and sound of cats is stimulated when the cat smell catnip. The attraction to catnip is actually a tendency that is developed or acquired. Tigers and other big, wild cats tend to like catnip, but older cats that are domesticated and kittens tend to be oblivious to catnip. Catnip is quite irresistible to about 10-30% of cats.

How does catnip affect cats?

Upon the smell of catnip, cats are known to roll around, use their paws to play with the catnip-laced toy, as well as sniff, chew and lick it. The plant can affect cats differently; cats can be left salivating, or anxious, purring, hyper, or sleepy. There are also cats that can end up acting aggressive (scratching, growling, screeching or biting) upon smelling catnip or consuming it in dried form.

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Is it OK to give my cat some catnip?

There are a lot of catnip products on the market available for cats, which can be purchased in loose leaf form, in toys (laced with catnip), as well as sprays and treats such as Catnip Puffs. Many experts say that catnip is entirely safe and not addictive, and yet many cat owners are uncomfortable about giving catnip to their cat, because of how catnip affects their cat’s behavior. To many cat owners, giving catnip to their cat is seemingly addictive and not many cat owners like seeing their cat’s behavior change. If you intend to buy some catnip products for your cat, see to it that you moderate your cat’s use of the product. As they say, too much of a good thing is not a good thing at all.

What are the side effects of catnip?

Apart from behavioral change, cats can be left throwing up or experiencing diarrhea from too much catnip. This is not very common, but it does happen. If you see your cat experiencing these from ingestion or exposure to catnip products, then you might want to rethink giving your cat some catnip.

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