Who isn’t a fan of the nip? Well… actually… Beau and Avery aren’t huge fans of the nip… but Walker is! Walker has always been a huge fan of catnip, and while we don’t give it to him very often, we were wondering… Can cat’s have too much catnip?
I know while I was working at the pet store we debated this a lot, especially because different employees believed different things, so I wanted to crack down and find the actual answer.
What is catnip?
Catnip is a herb that is from Asia, Africa and Europe. It has something called “nepetalactone” which is found in the leaves and stems of the plants which cats react to. Catnip (also known as Nepeta Cataria) is actually part of the mint family and can also be consumed by humans (used for insomnia, anxiety, headaches, and other medical ailments.) Although catnip doesn’t affect humans in the same way it affects cats, it does provide a calming effect. Very interesting, eh?
How long does catnip last?
Dependant on your kitty, the effects of catnip can last between 10-30 minutes and doesn’t have any long-term side effects.
If I give my catnip frequently does it lose its effect?
Some vets say that cats won’t be interested in catnip for at least 2 hours after sniffing/eating it. However this varies from cat to cat, and I can tell you that Walker is an addict who would eat it all day if he could. It is unclear whether giving catnip daily causes cats to become completely immune, but like most things: use it in moderation if you want to keep your little one interested.
What are some behaviours of a kitty who’s been affected?
Most cats fall into three categories:
- The rubbing and rolling category
- This is the category that Walker loves to play in. Think of someone who is trying to get very comfy in a fluffy bed
- The hunting or feeding category
- These cats may be fans of automated toys such as laser pointers, hide and go seek or if they’re outdoor/indoor kitties… live feed!
- The playful category
- These cats would be fans of feather wands or passive toys like springs and sponge balls. Cat’s may also want to chase or paw if they are in this category.
Do all cats react to catnip?
No, unfortunately, they do not. Out of the 3 cats in my life, only 1 reacts to catnip and statistics say that only 50% of cats actually react to catnip. This is because the reaction to the plant is hereditary. Cats who do not react to catnip commonly react to catnip’s sister plant, Valerian. Beau likes to play with Valerian toys but doesn’t get “high” which I find pretty interesting.
As for age, cats don’t usually react to catnip until they reach the age of 2-months and commonly senior cats will not show any interest in catnip. Some statistics even say that cats may not develop an interest in catnip until they are 6-months old. I personally didn’t give any of my cats catnip until they were 1 years-old.
Can catnip be beneficial?
I wouldn’t say that catnip is beneficial to the cats’ health, but it also really depends how you use it. If you use it as a reward, you may actually be able to train your little one to do some neat tricks. You can also use catnip as a stimulant to get your little one up and running (if they are of the lazier variety.)
Another great way to use catnip is by rubbing it on scratching posts to encourage your little one to use it instead of your furniture. Catnip also comes in spray form in case you want to get your little one interested in a specific toy, bed or cat tree.
Does catnip go bad?
Yes, it does. While it won’t get your cat sick, it definitely loses its potency. So if you’re buying catnip in bulk, I recommend storing a good chunk of it in the freezer.
So… Can cats overdose on catnip?
So yes… and no. Eating too much catnip can cause your little one to get an upset stomach which will lead to diarrhoea although this isn’t very common since cats usually know their limits and know when they’ve had enough.
What do I do if my cat has “overdosed” and is now showing signs?
Remain calm. Know that even if a cat is throwing up because of catnip, it should clear up on its own. If you are worried about your little one, always call the vet and ask for their advice. Catnip isn’t toxic to the cat, even in large quantities, so there are no long-term effects.