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Are Catnip Sticks Safe for Cats? Everything You Want to Know!

Catnip is a minty herb that has light-green foliage and lavender flowers. The sticks from the plant contain an active compound called nepetalactone. If your cat goes crazy over catnip sticks, it is attracted to this compound.

divider-catclaw1So is it safe for your feline friend to chew catnip sticks?

Yes. Catnip sticks are non-toxic, and chewing them temporarily affects the cat’s behavior and mood. Your feline may have a sudden burst of energy and seem very excited.

Catnip has unique effects on different cats, and while some become affectionate, others become more vocal, start drooling or relax and develop dilated pupils. These effects are short-lived and wear out in 10 to 15 minutes.

If you want to give your feline buddy a taste of catnip sticks, it is natural to wonder whether this could do them any harm. Here is in-depth information about catnip sticks to help you decide whether buying this treat for your pet is worth it.

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Hepper Catnip Stick Toy

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Catnip Stick
Image Credit: Volosina, Shutterstock

What Are Catnip Sticks?

Catnip is a plant loved by domestic and big cats like tigers and lions. This minty herb produces nepetalactone in bulbs you cannot see with the naked eye. These fragile bulbs containing nepetalactone can be found on the catnip plant’s stems, leaves, and seed pods.

The catnip herb produces other non-toxic chemicals, including Isoiridomyrmecin and Dihydronepetalactone, but in smaller quantities. Your feline friend faces no health risk whether it chews catnip sticks or ingests them.

Why Do Cats Find Chewing Catnip Sticks Pleasurable?

Cats love catnip sticks because of the active ingredient nepetalactone. When they chew catnip sticks, the fragile microscopic bulbs break to release this chemical that stimulates their sensory neurons. Nepetalactone mimics feline sex pheromones, making cats respond with a burst of energy and excitement. Some cats also act like they are in heat by slobbering and yowling.

To release more nepetalactone trapped in a catnip stick, most felines become overly playful and flip over, roll around, chew and rub the stick or become more vocal. They may also make funny faces with each sniff of nepetalactone, drool, or walk in a funny pattern.

Nepetalactone can also act as a sedative, making some cats feel more relaxed and sleepy. It is excellent for managing anxiety, stress, and feline aggression. In rare cases, this chemical intended to stimulate the brain’s happy receptors can cause aggressive behavior, especially in male cats. If your furry buddy gets aggressive, don’t provide more catnip.

Catnip Stick
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Do All Cats Respond to Catnip?

About 80% of felines respond to catnip, while 30% show no reaction. Sensitivity to catnip is an inherited trait, so there is no cause for alarm if your cat shows no response to the plant. You could try other alternatives that trigger the brain’s happy receptors, like Silvervine.

Kittens typically don’t react to catnip until they are 3–6 months old. They could seem playful, but their mood will not hinge on catnip sensitivity.

What Is the Estimated Duration of Catnip High?

The effects of catnip kick in almost instantly but are only short-lived. Most cats only enjoy a high for 10 to 15 minutes. A 10-minute high is often enough because most pet parents use catnip sticks during play sessions or to help their feline friends cope with stress or anxiety.

White cat with green eyes
Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

Will a Catnip Overdose Kill My Cat?

Catnip sticks are non-toxic, meaning your cat can chew and ingest them without any cause for alarm. However, excessive consumption can cause adverse symptoms like nausea and vomiting. You may also notice that your cat will remain high for longer than expected.

A catnip overdose will not kill your cat. Furthermore, any side effects caused by overconsumption wear out naturally in an hour or so. Cats are intelligent creatures, and while it is crucial only to provide the recommended amounts of catnip sticks, most felines will stop chewing once they’ve had just the proper dosage.

Catnip is a potent feline pain reliever. If your cat is in pain because of a medical concern or a recent surgery, it may want to chew catnip sticks for longer than usual. To prevent overconsumption and reap the best pain-relieving effects, steep the correct dosage of catnip into boiling water or hot chicken broth. Let the solution cool down before serving your feline friend.

Is It Safe to Give My Cat Catnip Sticks Daily?

Catnip sticks are non-toxic and safe for both felines and canines. While giving your furball some catnip sticks daily during your training or play sessions will not cause any adverse effects, experts recommend only providing the treats once or twice weekly.

Giving catnip sticks too frequently may not raise health concerns, but it may affect the effects of nepetalactone on your feline. Over time, your furry friend may develop a higher tolerance to catnip or become desensitized. This means your cat will need more nepetalactone to enjoy the intended high.

cat smelling catnip
Image Credit: Kassel95, Pixabay

Are Catnip Sticks Safe for Kittens?

If you have kittens older than 6 months, it is safe to give them catnip sticks in moderation. There’s nothing like “underage consumption,” and you can provide catnip to kittens during supervised playtime or to help them relax.

Again, the high is only short-lived, and your kitties will respond by turning into little playful furballs. If your kitties look bored, a small dose of catnip can jack up their energy during play sessions or training routines.

You can also use catnip to redirect behavior. For instance, if your cat likes scratching your carpet or furniture, sprinkling catnip on the scratching post can help. The aroma from the plant will serve as a powerful attractant, and your cat will suddenly not get enough of its scratching post!

Cat ball divider 1FAQs

Chewing catnip sticks elevates the mood of most cats and throws them into a state of hyperactivity or blissful calm. Here are some frequently asked questions about catnip stick treats and their euphoric effects.

1. Are Catnip Sticks Beneficial to Felines?

cat with green eyes in catnip
Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

Catnip sticks are special treats you can use to encourage your furball to play and exercise. These sticks also help with pain management and maintaining good dental hygiene. Most importantly, catnip sticks can be a valuable tool in managing stress and anxiety. For instance, the treats can make your cat have an easier time adjusting to a new environment right after a move.

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2. Are Catnip Sticks Addictive?

Most cats go bonkers over catnip sticks. However, the notion that the treats are addictive is misplaced. Catnip isn’t addictive; it only provides a temporary feeling of euphoria.

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3. Fresh vs. Dry Catnip Sticks: Which Option Is Better?

Catnip plant in a pot
Image Credit: Ilia Baksheev, Shutterstock

Fresh catnip sticks give a more intense effect than dried sticks. However, most cats prefer dried sticks over fresh ones. It is best to monitor your cat’s reaction to both options to understand its preferences better. Also, ensure you store your sticks in an airtight container to keep the nepetalactone potent.

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4. Are Catnip Sticks Safe for Dogs?

Dogs are curious creatures and may want to have a taste of feline treats. Fortunately, catnip sticks don’t contain toxins or additives and are safe for felines and canines. However, your dog will not react to nepetalactone.

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5. Does My Cat Need Monitoring After Giving Catnip Sticks?

cat eating cat grass
Image Credit: Olga_Malinina, Shutterstock

Your cat will need monitoring, especially if you offer catnip stick treats for the first time. The effects of nepetalactone are unpredictable, and while some cats drool and sleep, others become more playful or borderline aggressive. If your feline turns mischievous under the influence of catnip, you should not offer the treats in the future to avoid amplifying the aggression.

divider-catclaw1Final Thoughts

Most cats enjoy an intense catnip experience and go nuts with each sniff of nepetalactone. This essential oil triggers a happy feeling and encourages playful behavior. Even your lazy couch potato could suddenly switch to playful mode.

Arguably, catnip sticks can help your cat maintain a healthy lifestyle. If your kitty has been gaining unhealthy weight or is obese, some catnip stick treats can encourage it to interact with you in a spirited play session. They act like a charm to make felines active and happy!

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Featured Image Credit: Lermont51, Shutterstock