Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

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Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

Do you know why do cats like catnip? We’ve all seen our cats go wild when presented with the humble catnip plant – rolling over it, rubbing their face on it, and meowing up a storm. But why do cats love this simple herb so much? It’s been demonstrated repeatedly by research that catnip does indeed affect most cats, yet few of us understand why or how.

Why Do Cats Like Catnip
Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

In this blog post, we take you inside the mysterious effects of catnip and delve into what is taking place within our beloved felines when exposed to this natural treatment!

Do you ever wonder why your cat has an intense reaction to a little leafy plant known as Catnip? Have you seen them rolling around and meowing when they smell it or do they simply ignore the green goodness? From ancient Greek times to the modern day, cats have been responding exuberantly to this uniquely feline herb.

Let’s look at why do cats like catnip so much and explore some of the different ways that our furry friends respond when it comes in contact with them!

Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

Cats have been known to go crazy for catnip—but why? In this blog post, we’ll explore what catnip is and why cats like it so much. 

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb in the mint family. It has pointed, fuzzy green leaves and small white flowers that produce Nepetalactone—the substance that gives off a unique aroma and flavor that cats love. Cat owners who have seen their cats go wild for catnip know how powerful this plant can be. 

When cats smell or taste catnip, they experience an intoxicating high which can cause them to become overly active or very relaxed depending on the individual. This reaction is thought to be genetic—not all cats respond to catnip but roughly two-thirds of domestic felines do! 

So why do cats love catnip? Studies suggest that this response is linked to a variant of a receptor in the brain. When cats sniff Nepetalactone, it binds to these receptors triggering pleasure centers in the brain and leading to euphoria-like behavior. So while some may think of it as a drug for cats, it’s just nature finding its way into the feline world! 

From helping your kitty stay calm during car rides, providing enrichment during playtime, and helping them relax after a long day of napping, there are many benefits of giving your furry friend some catnip every so often. Plus, if you’re looking for something a little extra special for your feline companion—cat grass or silver vine also works great!

How Long Does the Effects of Catnip Last on Cats?

The effects of catnip usually last for about 10 to 15 minutes and then the cat experiences a refractory period where it will not be affected by the herb again for another 30 minutes or so. During this refractory period, cats may not show any interest in the catnip or respond in any way. After about 30 minutes, the cat will become susceptible to the effects of the herb again.

Cat owners should be aware that over-exposure to catnip can cause cats to become desensitized or even immune to its effects. Owners shouldn’t give their cats too much catnip in one sitting, as it could lead to cats’ reduced response. It is also important to note that kittens may not respond to catnip until around 6 months of age, so owners should wait until their cats are older before introducing them to the herb.

Although it can be fun to watch your cat go crazy over catnip, it is important to monitor how much your cat is exposed to. Too much of the herb can have negative effects and make cats more hyperactive than they would be otherwise. Overall, catnip is a safe and entertaining way to stimulate your cat’s senses which can benefit their physical and mental health.

Is Catnip Safe for Cats?

Yes, catnip is safe for cats when given in moderation. It can be used as a natural treatment to promote calmness and reduce stress levels in cats that suffer from anxiety or fear-related behavior. Its calming effects are also useful for cats who experience motion sickness or discomfort during car rides.

Since catnip is a herb, there is no risk of toxicity for cats when ingested. However, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea if given in large amounts. Therefore, it is important to only give your cat the recommended dosage. 

In addition, some cats may become agitated after consuming catnip, so owners should be aware of their cat’s reactions and adjust their habits accordingly. 

It is also important to ensure that the catnip you are using has not been treated with any chemicals or pesticides, as these can be harmful to your pet. Finally, it is best to keep catnip away from cats younger than six months old since they may not respond positively to the herb. 

All in all, catnip can be a great way to provide mental stimulation and enrichment for your feline friend. So don’t be afraid to give your cat a sprinkle of this magical herb every once in a while and watch their reaction! It’s sure to make them—and you—very happy.

If you have any further questions about using catnip with your pet, it is best to consult your veterinarian. They will be able to provide more information on the appropriate amount of catnip to give your cat, as well as any additional precautions you should take. 

Where Can I Get Catnip for My Cat?

Catnip can be found in a variety of places. You can buy it at pet stores, supermarkets, garden centers, and online stores. Some people even grow their own catnip! 

If you decide to buy catnip from the store, make sure you only purchase pure catnip without any added ingredients or fillers. You can also find catnip sprays, which are a fun way to introduce your kitty to the herb. Many cats love to roll around in the fresh leaves of their own home-grown catnip plants! 

If none of these options work for you, many pet supply stores sell dried catnip that can be used as a treat or sprinkled on scratching posts. No matter where you find it, your cat is sure to love the funny effects that come with catnip! 

If you decide to grow your catnip, be sure to pick a sunny spot in your garden and prepare the soil before planting. Catnip plants are easy to take care of, but they should be kept away from other plants to prevent cross-pollination. Catnip can also grow as an indoor plant, but it needs good drainage and lots of sunlight. 

Once your catnip is harvested and dried, you can store it in a cool, dry location or even freeze it for later use. 

Whatever option you choose, remember to always keep an eye on your cat when they’re enjoying their catnip! Too much of this herb can lead to digestive upsets or even make them overly hyperactive. But if used in moderation, it can be a great treat for your kitty that will keep them entertained and happy.

What Are Some Other Things That Cats Like to Play with?

In addition to catnip, there are plenty of other toys and activities that cats enjoy. They like to play hide and seek with small objects, chase string toys, or pounce on feathered wand toys. You can also get interactive toys such as puzzle feeders or laser pointers that your cat will have fun trying to figure out.

Other cats enjoy playing with everyday household objects such as cardboard boxes, paper bags, or empty toilet paper rolls. Some like to play in water and can be given shallow pans of water or even a kiddie pool filled with toys. Catnip-filled toys are also fun for cats to kick around, chase, or chew on.

Overall, cats are curious creatures who love to explore and play. With a little creativity and observation, you can find lots of ways to keep your cat entertained and happy. And the best part is that most of these activities don’t cost anything! So go ahead and give your kitty something fun to do today!

FAQs of Why Do Cats Like Catnip

Is it bad for cats to have catnip every day?

No, it is not bad for cats to have catnip every day. In fact, some studies have suggested that giving your cat a daily dose of catnip can actually help reduce anxiety and stress levels in cats. The active ingredient in catnip, nepetalactone, has an effect similar to that of valerian root, an herb used to treat stress and anxiety in humans.

Giving your cat regular doses of catnip can help them relax and feel more secure in their environment. It is important to note, however, that too much catnip can lead to vomiting or diarrhea in cats so it is best not to give them large amounts at once.

What age do cats like catnip?

Cats of any age can enjoy the effects of catnip, although it is most commonly used with kittens and adult cats. Kittens typically respond to the herb after they are 6 weeks old, while some cats may not be affected until they reach 8 months or older. However, all cats have different reactions so it’s impossible to tell exactly when your cat will start to enjoy the herb. Generally, cats aged 4 months and up are most likely to respond to catnip.

Are cats supposed to eat catnip or just smell it?

Cats can both eat and smell catnip. Catnip contains an organic compound called nepetalactone, which cats find irresistible and excites them when they come into contact with it. Cats typically respond to catnip by rubbing their face in the plant, rolling on it, or eating it.

Although some cats may become overly excited when exposed to catnip, it is generally considered safe for cats and can be a great way to keep them entertained. Some veterinarians even recommend using catnip-filled toys or treats as rewards during training sessions.

Understanding your cat’s individual reaction to catnip may also help you learn more about their personality, as some cats may respond more enthusiastically to catnip than others. Overall, it is best to supervise your cat’s contact with and consumption of catnip to ensure they do not become too excited or eat too much of the plant.

Is Doggijuana a catnip?

No, Doggijuana is not a catnip. Catnip is an herb in the mint family which contains nepetalactone, an organic compound that cats find irresistible and will often roll around or rub against if exposed to it. Doggijuana is actually a line of pet treats made from hemp-based products, including CBD oil, that are designed to help reduce anxiety in dogs. Unlike catnip, Doggijuana is not meant to be ingested by cats and should only be given to dogs under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Is catnip a stimulant or depressant?

Catnip is a stimulant. It acts on cats by affecting the brain’s olfactory senses and triggering a response that can be stimulating or calming depending on each individual cat. Active ingredients in catnip cause an increase in certain behaviors such as rolling, pawing, jumping, playing, rubbing against things, and vocalizing.

Catnip can also induce a state of euphoria in cats, causing them to be more active and playful. In some cases, catnip can even cause cats to become aggressive or irritable. Catnip is not known to have any narcotic-like effects on cats, and its effects usually only last for a few minutes before dissipating. The effects of catnip are not only limited to cats; some research suggests that humans may also experience mild stimulant-like effects from the aroma of catnip.

Is there dognip?

Yes, there is a product called dognip that is designed to be an alternative to catnip for dogs. Dognip contains valerian root, which has a similar effect on dogs as catnip does on cats. It also contains other herbs such as chamomile and lavender that can help reduce stress and anxiety in dogs. Dognip is generally less powerful than catnip and can take up to 30 minutes for the effects to become apparent. It has also been found to be more effective when used as a reward during training sessions rather than just given as a treat.


In conclusion, while it is not definitively known why cats have such a strong reaction to catnip, several theories suggest cats may be responding to the nepetalactone component of the plant. This chemical triggers a response in certain receptors in cats, creating an effect similar to those produced by drugs like marijuana and ecstasy. 

While research is still ongoing, it appears that cats may simply enjoy the effects of catnip, taking pleasure in a natural high. Cats are known to be notoriously finicky creatures, and it seems that one of their favorite treats is this fragrant herb!

We hope this post has given you an insight into why do cats like catnip so much. Whether your cat loves it or not, catnip is a safe and natural way to provide some extra entertainment for your feline friend!

In addition to providing them with mental stimulation, this herb has many other benefits such as aiding digestion and providing comfort during periods of stress.

Thanks for reading! Visit VetRanch for more information.

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Arthur Crowley


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