Excited Cats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Why Doesn’t My Cat Like Catnip, Should I Worry? Facts & FAQ

Every cat owner knows that cats are supposed to love catnip. But what if your cat doesn’t seem to care for it? Is there something wrong with your cat? As it turns out, there’s no need to worry. Some cats are simply not attracted to catnip. There are a few reasons that your cat might not be interested in catnip, and none of them are cause for alarm. Let’s explore why your cat might not like catnip and why this isn’t a cause for concern.

Click below to jump ahead:

3 cat divider

What Is Catnip?

If you have a cat, there’s a good chance that you’ve given them catnip at some point. Catnip is a plant that is part of the mint family, and its scientific name is Nepeta cataria. The most active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone. This chemical interacts with cats’ sensitive smell receptors and stimulates their brain. Most cats will respond to catnip by rubbing their face in it, rolling around on the ground, or even chewing on it. Some cats may seem to be affected more strongly than others and may even become aggressive.

While the effects of catnip only last for a short period of time, some cats will return to the spot where they found it and roll around in it again. For many cats, catnip is a harmless way to have fun. However, there is a small percentage of cats that do not respond to catnip at all. If your cat does not react to catnip, don’t worry — there is no evidence that there is anything wrong with them.

jar of catnip
Image Credit: Gaston Cerliani, Shutterstock

How Does Catnip Affect Cats?

When cats smell catnip, they experience a temporary high. They might run around, roll on the ground, or meow excessively. Some cats become so stimulated that they may even drool. The effects of catnip typically last for about 10 minutes before your kitty returns to normal.

Not all cats react to catnip, though. In fact, it’s believed that only 50–67% of cats are affected by it. Whether a cat responds to catnip is thought to be genetic. If your kitty doesn’t seem interested in the plant, there’s no need to worry.

Why Does Catnip Affect Cats Differently?

There are a few reasons that your cat may not be affected by catnip. One is that not all cats are sensitive to catnip. In fact, only about 2/3 of cats are affected by it. Another reason is that some cats simply don’t like the smell or taste of catnip.

But for those cats that do enjoy the effects of catnip, there is a scientific explanation for why it happens. When a cat smells or ingests catnip, it causes a change in their brain chemistry. This change leads to a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. It’s similar to how humans feel when they consume alcohol or drugs.

cat eating catnip outdoors
Image Credit: Julia Wolf, Flickr

Why Some Cats Don’t Like Catnip

Some cats don’t like catnip because it’s a stimulant. Catnip can cause cats to become excited and playful, but some cats find this feeling uncomfortable. The reasoning is similar to why some humans like to consume alcohol on occasion, while others don’t like how it makes them feel. It simply comes down to personal preference.

Cats aren’t equally affected by catnip either, which plays a role in how much they like it. Both age and hereditary factors determine this. If your cat is part of the 1/3 of the feline population that lacks the gene responsible for a catnip response, this is likely why they are averse to it. In addition, kittens under 3 months old don’t respond to catnip. Senior cats are also less likely to enjoy the feeling than mature adults.

If your cat doesn’t like catnip, there’s no need to worry; it’s perfectly normal. There are plenty of other ways to keep your kitty entertained, such as playing with toy mice or chasing a laser pointer.

Catnip Alternatives

If your cat doesn’t like catnip, there are a few alternatives you can try. One is silvervine, which is a plant native to Asia. It’s similar to catnip in that it can cause a mild euphoric response in cats, but it’s not as potent as catnip. You can find silvervine sticks or powder at most pet stores.

Another option is valerian root, which is often used as an herbal remedy for stress relief. It has a strong smell that some cats find irresistible and can be found at health food stores or online.

Image Credit: gokalpiscan, Pixabay

3 cat divider Summary

Not all cats respond the same to catnip, and not all cats like it. If your cat doesn’t enjoy catnip, there’s nothing wrong with them. Some cats are genetically hardwired to respond to catnip, while others aren’t. In some cases, cats just don’t like the feeling that catnip gives them. No harm will come to your cat from living a catnip-free lifestyle. There are a few alternatives that you can try if you’d like, including silvervine and valerian root.

thematic break

Featured Image Credit: bmf-foto.de, Shutterstock