cat sniffing catnip plant.

For many cat owners, watching their house panther enjoy catnip is an enjoyable and often humorous experience. But is catnip okay for your cat? Do catnip effects have harmful consequences? Your resource for all things feline here at Curem Veterinary Care has the answers you are looking for about Nepata Cataria (catnip) and your kitty. 

What is Catnip, Anyways?

Catnip, or Nepata cataria, is an herb that has Mediterranean origins. Its leaves and stems contain a compound known as nepetalactone that holds the key to making kitties crazy. 

Nepalactone mimics natural feline pheromones and elicits behavior that can include:

  • Licking
  • Head rubbing
  • Rolling
  • Hyper-aware state
  • Attention seeking
  • Increased aggressive behavior (especially in males)

Cats may also want to chew on the plant to release more of the compound. When it is ingested, nepetalactone often has more of a sedative effect. Catnip’s effects last about ten to fifteen minutes after exposure. 

Unsurprisingly, not all cats conform to these rules. It is estimated that about one-third of felines are seemingly unaffected by catnip—this sensitivity is likely hereditary.  

What Pet Owners Should Know About Catnip

Because an experience with catnip reminds us humans of marijuana, pet owners are often concerned about whether it is safe to give their cats. 

Thankfully, nepetalactone is safe and non-addictive for our feline friends, so there is no concern for overdose or addiction. 

Catnip can safely be a part of your cat’s day to day. If your kitty seems to enjoy it, consider using it:

  • As a training treat or reward
  • A way to encourage exercise
  • An aid to help relaxation and stress
  • A good outlet for natural cat behavior
  • An added element of enrichment to the environment

Your cat might enjoy it inside their favorite types of toys, sprinkled over a favorite space in the home, as an oil in their food, or even as a plant to munch on while they bird-watch from a beloved window. 

Catnip can be a great way to help your cat thrive in their surroundings, and it can provide endless entertainment for you as a pet owner. 

We are so happy to report that this beloved kitty favorite is safe overall for your feline friend. If you ever have any questions about how to keep your cat safe, please reach out to us. We are here to help you care for your cat in the best way possible.