Your Cat’s Favorite Herb

How much do you know about catnip? It’s your feline friend’s favorite plant! Learn more about catnip and the way it affects our cats below in this article from a Pickerington, OH veterinarian:

What is Catnip, Anyway?

Catnip is a wild herb, categorized in the same plant family as common mint. It’s originally from the continent of Europe, but has since spread all over the world and is quite common around North America. The wild catnip plant is leafy green, and has white flowers with distinctive purple spots.

The catnip you’ll buy in a pet supply store is dried and processed; it looks much like dried oregano or basil flakes that you might have in your spice cupboard. Catnip can also be put inside of toys to entice cats, or it can be diffused into catnip sprays and other products. Raw catnip is typically the most potent form of the herb.

What Makes Catnip Affect Cats?

The oils of the catnip plant’s stem and leaves contain a chemical substance called nepetalactone. It’s this substance that causes a chemical reaction in your cat’s brain. Experts liken the effect of nepetalactone in cats to that of an aphrodisiac in humans—catnip may elicit a nearly sexual response in your cat’s brain!

How Do Cats Respond?

Different cats respond differently when presented with catnip. Many will get excited, rolling around on the floor or darting this way and that. Others may rub their face or backs in the area where catnip has been sprinkled. Still other cats may simply stretch out and relax in a state of euphoria. It all depends on your cat!

Is There Any Risk Associated With Catnip?

No, catnip is a perfectly safe thing to give to your cat. The chemical reaction doesn’t harm your pet in the least, and the effects will wear off after only a few short minutes.

Why Isn’t My Cat Responding to Catnip?

Have you tried catnip on your cat to no avail? Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with your pet! Cats actually require a very specific gene, inherited from their parents, to be able to feel the effects of catnip. If they don’t possess this gene, catnip won’t do much of anything to your cat.

Do you have more questions about catnip? Wondering what sort of catnip product might be best for your pet? Call your Pickerington, OH animal hospital today for help.


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