What is Catnip?
Catnip, or Nepeta Cataria, is a perennial plant that grows in North America and Europe, belongs to the mint family of herbs. Its flowers are white with crimson dots and the scent of the herb can be smelled from several yards away. Outdoor plants can grow to well over three feet tall. Catnip plants have a long history as a popular garden herb, it has been used for cooking and medicinal purposes, and tea can even be made from the leaves that many believe has medicinal benefits for humans. However, catnip is best known for its pleasurable effects on cats, and has been used for centuries as a treat for our feline family members.
Organic is Best
As with most plants, organic is best for you and your cat. By making sure to purchase organic catnip for your cat, you’ll avoid the toxic chemicals and pesticides used on the plants as they grow. Not to mention you’ll also be helping to protect the environment. Organic catnip is also more potent than conventionally grown catnip, as it is supposed to have a higher concentration of the active, non-toxic chemical, Nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is the part of the plant that attracts and excites your cat.
Why Give your Cat Catnip?
Catnip can help spark a couch potato to get off the couch and engage in a play session. If you have cat who hasn’t played in a while, catnip can be a great place to start. It’s a wonderful tension reliever, and you can use it after your cats have had a stressful experience. For example, after you’ve had company or after you return from a trip. Consider giving your cats a “catnip party” on days when you’ve been busy at work and come home exhausted. You may be too tired to engage in a full interactive play session, but still want your cats to have a special time, so sprinkle catnip on their favourite toys and rub some on the scratching posts, or maybe fill a few socks with the herb.
Catnip is also a great way to help a frightened or timid cat come out of their shell and particularly helpful with a new cat from a shelter or rescue that may have had a traumatic experience before adoption. It’s a wonderful start to an interactive play session for a kitty that is too timid to focus on the toy otherwise.
Only about 50-70% of cats react to catnip and those reactions can vary depending on whether it’s sniffed or eaten. For those disinterested cats, you can try Tatarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera Tatarica) or Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus).