Many cat owners have witnessed the effects of catnip on their feline companions, and most people agree it’s pretty entertaining.
Catnip (nepeta cataria) is an herb native to parts of Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and some areas of China. It’s a member of the mint family, and many cats are crazy about it.
Today, we’re unraveling the mystery of why catnip has such a strong effect on cats and how long these effects last. Sit back and relax, and maybe give your kitty some catnip. It’s perfectly harmless.
How Long Do Catnip Effects Last?
Catnip offers a quick kitty high that only lasts about 10 minutes. After that, your cat loses interest. Some cats may mellow after this high similar to a couch-lock.
After ingestion, cats are immune for about 2-3 hours before they can experience the effects of catnip again. This is because of nepetalactone, the chemical compound found in catnip that attracts cats to the plant in the first place.
Effects of Catnip: Smelling vs Eating
All cats are unique individuals and, therefore, will react in different ways. However, there are a few effects observed regularly in felines. Typical effects include:
- Rubbing on the plant
- Rolling around in the plant or on the floor
- Jumping and running
- Loss of focus
- Falling asleep
Your cat won’t experience all these effects at once. Some cats like to sit in piles of catnip and drool. Other cats get the zoomies. Rest assured, these reactions are natural, so there’s no need to worry.
Smelling catnip and eating catnip will offer different effects. Smelling is the most potent way for a cat to experience the high from this minty herb. Nepetalactone binds to receptors in a cat’s nose, stimulating the “happy” neurons in its brain, which cause cats to go bonkers.
On the other hand, eating catnip offers a more mellow and relaxing high. Cats like to eat their leafy greens occasionally, so you can kill two birds with one stone this way!
Can Too Much Catnip Be Dangerous?
Catnip is non-addictive. It’s unlikely that your cat will overdose on catnip. The effects of catnip shouldn’t last any longer than the timeframe specified. However, vomiting and diarrhea will likely occur if kitty overeats the plant.
If this happens with your cat, remove the catnip and don’t offer it again until the symptoms stop. If symptoms continue, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Offering Catnip To Your Cat
There are several ways to offer your cat catnip. Keep in mind that some cats aren’t interested in catnip, so don’t force it. Try different methods to see if your cat has a preference.
Whatever option you choose, remember to buy the best quality catnip you can afford. It’s easy to find catnip products all over the market. Organic and non-GMO is best.
1. Live plants
Many cats love chewing on the live plant. Luckily for many cat owners, catnip is an easy plant to grow and maintain. It requires little care and occasional watering. Don’t worry if you have a knack for killing plants. Catnip is very forgiving!
You can find a catnip plant at most garden stores, or you can grow the plant yourself from seed if you’re looking for a project.
2. Dried Catnip
Dried catnip is probably the most common form of catnip on the market. Many grocery stores, garden shops, and pet shops have dried catnip. This is the best option if you don’t know if your cat will like catnip. Not all catnip is created equal. Some brands are better than others. Try a different brand if your cat isn’t interested in the dried catnip.
3. Stuffed Cat Toys
You can find all kinds of stuffed catnip toys. Catnip toys are a great interactive option for cats that get the zoomies after sniffing the plant. Try a fun, catnip yellow banana, or nighttime catnip rolls for nights when your cat likes to zoom around the house at 3 am.
Some toys come with a container of dried catnip so you don’t have to buy any. If you order online, check the product description to see if you need to buy dried catnip.
4. Oils and Sprays
Catnip oils and sprays are a nice option if you don’t want to clean up catnip crumbles throughout your house. They also last longer than dried catnip. You can apply the spray or oil to any surface and toy for a little extra fun.
5. Catnip Bubbles
Catnip bubbles like Pet Qwerks catnip bubbles are great for kitties that like to have a little fun. Moving bubbles give cats an exciting catnip experience by watching a moving object. Then, they get to enjoy the perks of popping the bubble! Not many people know about this option.
6. Catnip Treats
Treats might be a good alternative if your cat likes to eat the plant. Some treats like Greenies Catnip Dental Treats offer additional benefits. Catnip treats can come in all kinds of forms. Some treats are hard, soft, or come in stick form. If your cat is a picky eater, you may have to try a few before finding a preferred treat.
Catnip Alternatives For Cats Not Interested In Catnip
We covered just about everything you need. But what if your cat isn’t interested in catnip?
- Tatarian Honeysuckle: A study showed that cats responded positively to tatarian honeysuckle. Some cats even preferred honeysuckle more than catnip. Tatarian honeysuckle is an excellent option for olfactory enrichment if your cat doesn’t like catnip.
- Valerian: Valerian has a cat high similar to catnip, except cats usually fall asleep immediately. This is a great option if your cat needs an extra-long cat nap!
- Silvervine: Silvervine is similar to catnip regarding native land and flower production. Silvervine offers a euphoric feeling similar to catnip and lasts up to 30 minutes. It’s also an excellent alternative for anti-catnip kitties.
The life of a housecat can get boring. Toys are a great option, but why not treat your kitty to a little extra fun? Catnip is a great way to give your cat a nice buzz while encouraging it to stay away from houseplants.
It’s perfectly natural if your cat doesn’t like catnip. But that doesn’t mean your cat has to miss out on the fun effects of other herbs! Try different plants and see what your cat responds best to. Your cat will appreciate your efforts regardless!
Featured Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock