So just what is the reason for what scientists have coined as”the Catnip effect”?
Unfortunately for such curious minds the specific reason of why Catnip affects cats in such a manner remains mostly a mystery. There’s nevertheless much that we do understand about Catnip and cats even when we don’t have the best answer of exactly”why?” yet answered.
The Science Stuff
Catnip is scientifically classified as Nepeta cataria and is a perennial herb in the mint family and is in fact also known as”Catmint”. It’s a plant indigenous to Europe but has been exported and is now found all over including the USA and Canada.
The active ingredient in Catnip is an oil; Nepetalactone, which is found in the leaves of this plant. This is why you have the ability to locate Catnip in a bottle or spray form in some pet shops.
Other Uses For Catnip
Catnip is not just good to stimulate activity in cats, it can also be used by humans as an herb for a medicinal tea which may soothe toothaches, help against coughs, and may also perform as a sleep aid.
Catnip affects approximately half of all cats. What determines whether or not a cat will respond to Catnip is a genome that is inherited (or not inherited as the case may be) at birth. Kittens, regardless of whether or not they take this genome, don’t react to Catnip until reaching about 3 or 4 months of age and becoming sexually mature. Older cats are also more likely to have a diminished or non-existing response to Catnip, which leads scientists to believe that the Catnip effect is based at least partly on sexuality and that the reaction could be something like an aphrodisiac.
Cats which may be traced to areas where Catnip is not indigenous appear to be untouched by Catnip. The domesticated housecat is not the only cat that may be affected by Catnip. Larger cats can also be impacted by the Catnip effect, felines like the bobcat, lynx, tiger and even lion are known to respond much the exact same manner the common housecat would. It is interesting to note that while Catnip can act as a stimulant when a cat sniffs it, it may conversely work as a relaxant when ingested. Therefore, you may see a different, nearly opposite result based on whether your cat chooses to consume the Catnip you provide for him/her or merely sniffs it (the latter being the more typical behaviour ).
Catnip can prove to be a really helpful tool for a couple of common problems with your cat. If you are fortunate enough to have a cat that does react favorably to Catnip then here are a few ideas for you and your furry little friend.
Catnip can be used to get a lazy cat off their butt. Some cats are notoriously lazy, opting to sleep much of their day away in a nice golden patch of sunlight on the living room carpet, only waking to eat and collect some essential attention from their indulgent owners. If this sounds like your cat, you will soon see (if you haven’t already) that your cat is becoming more and more round. This is generally not a good thing. Catnip may be able to assist. Presenting catnip to your cat promotes activity (obviously provided the cat sniffs instead of ringing the herb).
Many adult cats will react to Catnip in a manner that looks like their childlike kitty Behavior, jumping, playing and running around as though it had been given an injection of kitty adrenaline, which in essence, is the case. The impact of Catnip on a cat can last somewhere between two and fifteen minutes. If the latter is true, then this is an adequate amount of exercise and will help maintain your cat a bit more svelte than without a Catnip treatment. Moreover, if you leave the Catnip out for a couple hours then your cat may come back to the herb later (an hour or two after the effect has worn off) and again react in an energetic fashion. So in this way you may consider Catnip sort of like a kitty energy beverage.
For those who have a cat that seems bent on the destruction of your furniture then Catnip may again have the ability to come to the rescue. Cats can be frustratingly picky about just about anything under the sun including where they would like to sharpen their furniture ruining claws. It’s not unusual for a cat to damage or destroy a piece of furniture just because the owners eventually gave up on trying to redirect their cat to the fresh cat scratching post that place them back anywhere around a hundred dollars and more. A fantastic way to attempt to change this frustrating and expensive behavior is to rub some Catnip or Catnip oil on a scratching post that you’re attempting to get the cat to use. Introduce your cat to the recently”Catnipped” scratching post and see how he/she reacts. If all goes well, your kitty will sniff and inspect the post and begin clawing at it. After a few times (you might need to re-Catnip the post) hopefully kitty is going to be trained to utilize the post in place of the sofa.
Using Catnip with Many Cats
If you’ve never used Catnip earlier and you have more than one cat it’s advisable to check it out separately on every cat before introducing it to all your cats at exactly the exact same time. The main reason is because Catnip affects some cats in a negative manner causing the cat in question to become aggressive instead of merely playful. Introducing it to your cats separately enables you to control the situation and maintain a cat that may react aggressively isolated from the other cats. This of course means avoiding a possible catfight that could lead to broken furniture, hurt kitties (possibly requiring a vet visit), annoyed neighbors (and probably owners), or a combination of all the above.
Growing and Maintaining Catnip
Growing your own Catnip can be rewarding as it can help you save money, give you the satisfaction of doing something yourself and ensuring you always get fresh, high quality Catnip for your cat. A word of warning however; the specific kitty reaction you want to grow your own Catnip is something to be careful of. If you plan on growing your Catnip out of doors and other cats can get your Catnip garden then be prepared for undesirable feline visitors. This may not be a problem for you , but cats are by nature territorial and in case you have a cat that lives alone without the company of other cats that this could prove to be an area of stress for your cat. Even if you keep your cat inside at all times, your cat may get agitated if he/she looks out the window to see another cat frolicking in territory your cat considers their own. If you decide to grow your Catnip indoors, take care to keep it out of reach of kitty. Otherwise you’ll probably have Fluffy jumping up on furniture even to the most out of the way place to get access to the herb that is tempting. Cats are great jumpers and not really known for respecting precious household knick-knacks. So in case you do decide to grow it indoors to get a kitty that reacts to Catnip, take care to grow it in a place that your cat won’t be able to access it. An area that you always keep closed into the cat is most likely the ideal solution for indoor grown Catnip.
If you do find that your cat reacts positively to Catnip you should be sure to use it sparingly so as not to dull the effect which can be caused by overexposure. A good rule of thumb is not to treat your kitty more than once a week on average to Catnip.
Given all the positive effects that Catnip might have on your cat you owe it to yourself (and naturally your fluffy little ball of affection) to see how he/she reacts to this odd and famous herb. It will provide enjoyment and exercise for your cat and probably an entertaining show for yourself as well. It’s a win win situation. Look into Wellington Bat Removal for more details.