No cat owner likes to see their cat in pain and will go to great links to keep them healthy and safe. As much as a cat owner may try, a cat may develop an illness or suffer some type of injury resulting in pain. Luckily, catnip can actually reduce pain and even anxiety in cats. But does it work on all cats? Better yet, how does it help relieve pain in cats?
In this article, we’ll explore catnip and its medicinal purposes for our feline friends so that you’re armed with the information you need. Read on to learn more about catnip and how it eases pain for cats.
How Does Catnip Help Cats With Pain?
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is part of the mint family and grows in New Zealand, Europe, and North America. It releases nepetalactone, a chemical that binds to a cat’s “happy” receptors in the brain as they inhale. This chemical can make a cat either hyper or mellow, and you won’t know how it will affect your cat until your cat tries it.
On average, roughly 70% of cats go crazy for catnip, but not all cats love this perennial plant. In fact, a cat needs the hereditary gene for catnip to have an effect, and around 30% of cats lack this gene.
The reaction is different in every cat, with some zoning out, meowing, growling, taking a relaxing nap, or even drooling. Catnip can also spark a hallucination effect, and your cat may bat at something in the air that’s invisible to you.
When a cat inhales catnip, the herb replicates pheromones, which are “feel good” chemicals that last approximately 10 minutes after inhalation. When the pheromones are activated, any pain your cat may be in will ease up, resulting in a brief reprieve.
After the results wear off, it can take 30 minutes to 2 hours for your cat’s brain to “reset” for another round of the mellow stuff. Bear in mind that elderly cats rarely respond to catnip, and if you have a senior cat, you’ll need another method to relieve pain.
How Often Can I Give My Cat Catnip?
A drawback to using catnip for pain for your cat is how often you should give your cat catnip. Veterinarians suggest giving catnip once every 2–3 weeks. Giving more can reduce the plant’s effect on your cat.
Consulting with your veterinarian is best if your cat has chronic pain, as your vet can put your cat on a pain management plan.
Can Kittens Have Catnip for Pain?
Yes, kittens can safely have catnip, but some kittens may not feel an effect until 6 months to 1 year of age. Some kittens may feel the effects of catnip, but it’s best to wait until they are old enough so they can enjoy it.
Does Catnip Have to Be Ingested to Work for Pain in Cats?
Some experts believe that catnip only helps with pain in cats if it’s ingested. Inhaling it only reduces stress and doesn’t help with pain, while others argue that ingesting it will mellow the cat out instead of an aggressive reaction and help with pain.
However, there are no conclusive studies to support these theories. In other words, catnip should help with pain in your cat, whether it’s ingested or inhaled. According to the Humane Society, the intense effects of catnip are when it’s inhaled.
How Do I Give My Cat Catnip for Pain?
There are plenty of methods you can use to give your cat catnip. Catnip-infused toys are an excellent way, or you can keep a potted plant of the stuff around to have on hand. Most pet stores have catnip already potted in a planter, or you can buy it at a nursery from the herb section. You can also sprinkle dried catnip leaves on areas your cat frequents.
Ensure you don’t give too much to ingest, as too much could cause an upset tummy for your kitty, with symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, and trouble walking.
Tips for Keeping Your Cat Healthy and Safe
Start out slowly when giving catnip to your cat for the first time. As we’ve mentioned, an upset tummy may occur if you give your cat too much to digest. Some cats may become aggressive on catnip, and if you have an aggressive cat, it may be best to avoid giving catnip. However, catnip is perfectly safe in moderation, but don’t overdo it. To start, only give a small pinch of the stuff and observe how your cat reacts for future reference.
Cats are masters of disguising pain because they have a natural built-in defense mechanism to hide pain due to predators. If you suspect your cat is in pain, a trip to the vet is warranted. A way to tell if your cat may be in pain is if he no longer jumps up or down on objects, has less energy, has a decreased appetite, cannot get comfortable while lying down, or becomes withdrawn. Your veterinarian should always address any changes in your cat’s behavior.
Catnip is perfectly safe for kittens and cats, but it’s best to give it in moderation to keep your cat interested and stimulated. Giving too much can make your cat become desensitized or may make them sick.
Catnip can be used for pain and anxiety relief in your cat, and there are several methods of how to give it to your cat. Always observe your cat’s reaction to catnip, and take your cat to the vet if you suspect your cat is in pain.
Featured Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock