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How to Give Cats Catnip: 7 Ways, Facts & FAQ

Many cats love catnip, and their reactions are usually quite entertaining. If you’re new to giving catnip to your cat, though, you may be wondering how to give it to them. We outlined a few ways that you can give catnip to your cat. Whether they’re rolling around in it, rubbing themselves against it, or just drooling over the enticing aroma, your cat is sure to enjoy the experience!

Click below to jump ahead:

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The 7 Ways to Give Your Cat Catnip

1. Sprinkle Catnip on Their Food

One of the easiest ways to give catnip to your cat is to sprinkle it on their food. Make sure not to use too much, though, as large quantities can cause digestive upset. However, small quantities of catnip can promote digestion and help cats eat better.

norwegian forest cat eating cat food from a bowl
Image Credit: Astrid Gast, Shutterstock
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2. Rub Catnip on Toys

Crushing up fresh catnip and sprinkling it on your cat’s toys encourages them to play. Cats are often more active and engaged when their toys smell like catnip.

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Hepper Catnip Stick Toy

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3. Add Catnip to a Scratching Post

If your cat’s scratching post is collecting dust in the corner, try sprinkling catnip onto the surface to encourage your cat to use it. This will also get them to scratch more and help keep their claws healthy and sharp.

Scottish fold little cat playing on scratching posts
Image Credit: Anatoliy Cherkas, Shutterstock
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4. Grow Your Own Catnip Plant

Try growing your own catnip plant, so you always have it on hand when you need it. Just make sure to keep the plant out of reach of your cat to avoid it being eaten.

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5. Make Homemade Catnip Toys

If you’re feeling crafty, why not try this simple recipe for homemade catnip toys that your kitty will love?

Materials needed:
  • ¼ cup of organic catnip
  • ½ cup of organic cotton stuffing
  • Fabric
  • A sewing needle and thread
  • Start by mixing the catnip and cotton stuffing in a bowl.
  • Once mixed, take small handfuls of the mixture, and form them into little balls.
  • Cover each ball with a bit of fabric, and use the needle and thread to sew each one closed. Make sure to knot the thread securely, so the filling doesn’t leak out.
  • Give your new catnip toy to your kitty, and watch them have a blast!
cat playing toys
Image Credit: splityarn, Flickr
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6. Make Homemade Chicken Soup With Catnip

There are many ways to give your cat catnip, but if you’d like to give it as a special treat, the following is a recipe for delicious homemade chicken soup infused with catnip. It’s sure to please even the pickiest cats.

  • 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken
  • ½ cup chopped cat-safe vegetables (carrots, celery, etc.)
  • ¼ cup of dry catnip leaves
  • 8 cups of water
  • Add all ingredients to a large pot and stir well.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!
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7. Give Them Fresh Fruit Mixed With Catnip

This fresh fruit mix is another unique way to give your cat a catnip treat.

  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh strawberries
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons of dried catnip
  • Simply mix all the ingredients and offer them to your cat. They will love the taste of the fresh fruit along with the added benefits of the catnip.
Yellow cat looking a bowl with strawberries_guajilo studio_shutterstock
Credit: Guajillo studio, Shutterstock

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What Is Catnip and Why Is It Used?

Catnip is a member of the mint family, and its scientific name is Nepeta Cataria. The plant grows to be about 2 to 3 feet tall and has small, white flowers. The leaves of the plant contain the chemical nepetalactone, which is what attracts cats. When a cat smells this chemical, they typically have a reaction that is similar to that of humans when we smell certain aromatherapy scents — they become relaxed.

Some cats adore catnip, while others seem uninterested. If your cat doesn’t seem to react at all, don’t worry; there’s no need to force them to eat it. Just try again later and see if they show any interest then.

While the effects of catnip are usually harmless, some cats may become aggressive when under its influence. If you’re concerned about your cat’s reaction to catnip, it’s best to give try it in a controlled environment, like a small room or play area.

Where to Get Catnip

Catnip can be grown at home, or you can purchase it at most pet supply stores. When shopping for catnip, it’s important to find a good quality brand, like From the Field Stalkless Catnip. You want to ensure that the catnip is fresh and potent, so it’s worth paying extra for a good brand.

Image Credit: R. E. Beck, Pixabay

Pros and Cons of Giving Your Cat Catnip

Catnip can be a great way to keep your feline friend entertained, but it also has the potential to cause some side effects.

  • It’s a natural method of amusement
  • It’s safe for cats
  • It helps alleviate boredom
  • It aids with healthy digestion in small doses
  • It can help reduce anxiety and pain
  • Large doses can cause digestive upset
  • It can cause hyperactivity or aggressive behavior
  • Side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and difficulty walking

Interesting Facts About Catnip

Here are a few interesting facts about catnip that you may or may not know:

  • The plant is native to Europe and Asia but was artificially introduced in North America.
  • Catnip is not addictive; most cats lose interest in it over time.
  • Kittens and older cats are less likely to be affected by catnip than middle-aged cats.
  • Cats aren’t the only animals that enjoy catnip; rabbits, bears, rats, and elephants enjoy it too!
  • Nepetalactone, the chemical in catnip that attracts cats, is also used as an insect repellent.
  • Catnip is easy to grow and makes a beautiful addition to any garden.
  • Dried catnip leaves can be stored in a sealed bag or container for up to 2 years.
  • If you have a problem with mice, sprinkle dried catnip around your home. The mice will stay away because they are offended by the strong, musky odor.
Gray Cat Enjoying Fresh Catnip_Anna Hoychuk_shutterstock
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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With seven different ways to give your cat catnip, you’re sure to find one that works for you. Whether you sprinkle it on your cat’s food, make your own recipes, or add it to their toys, it’s easy to administer. It’s a great way to get your cat to exercise, alleviate boredom, and add a little excitement to your cat’s routine!

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Featured Image Credit: Ellie Burnett, Shutterstock