While many people know that cats love catnip, few people know what catnip is or how catnip actually affects their cat. So we’re going to offer some backround information about this plant and what makes your cat go crazy for the ‘nip.
What Is Catnip?
We mentioned plant, and yes catnip (Nepeta Cataria) is actually a plant native to Europe that was imported to the United States and other countries. Now it grows as a weed accross much of North America. That’s interesting, but what does it have to do with cats?
How Catnip Affects Cats
I’m sure you’ve seen it… sprinkle alittle catnip on the rug and your cat will likely pounce on it, rub and claw at it, roll over and rub it’s body all over it, likcing, kicking, head shaking. It’s quite remarkable, the cat literally goes crazy for it. Then, a couple minutes later, it stops. The cat walks away as if nothing happened. This lasts for a few hours then, as abruptly as it ended, your cat pounces on it yet again and the cycle repeats.
But this doesn’t happen for all cats. It seems there is a chemical in catnip, Nepetalactone, that initiates this response. Some cats are more sensitive, others are completely indifferent and it doesn’t affect them. While there isn’t a full neurological explanation for catnip-induced behavior, it’s likely hormonal as most kittens won’t develope a reaction to Nepetalactone until they’re three months old.
Using Catnip With Your Cat
The chemicals in catnip, namely Nepetalactone, have a relatively short shelf-life. Eventually the chemically induced trip the catnip inspires will lose it’s effectiveness and require the substance to be reapplied to whatever cat toy or area you’re applying it to. It’s also a good idea to store catnop in the refridgerator or freezer, so that it’ll remain potent when you’re ready to use it. Catnip is a great way to encourage a lazy or overweight cat to exercise a bit, and of course it’s really fun to watch.