Do you have a smell that you absolutely love? Your cat probably does too, and it’s called catnip.
Even if you’ve never gotten catnip, you’ve most likely heard of it. This leafy plant is actually a member of the mint family, and many cats go absolutely crazy for it! Give your kitty a bit of fresh catnip and he’ll be rolling around on the floor in ecstasy, playing with it, rubbing his nose in it.
That’s because smelling the oil in catnip, called nepetalactone, mimics pheromones that make cats happy. Even wild cats love it!
Most cats will just sniff the catnip and enjoy, but some will try to eat it - and that’s okay too. Catnip is perfectly harmless to cats when eaten, although it might have the opposite effect from smelling it, calming your cat.
All this is only true if your cat is sensitive to catnip. Catnip sensitivity is actually an inherited trait, so if momma cat loves the minty leaves, her kittens will too. There’s a fifty-fifty chance that your cat will enjoy catnip.
It’s easy to tell if your cat has the catnip sensitivity - just give her a few fresh leaves and you’ll know immediately based on her reaction.
Fresh vs. Dried
Catnip comes in a few different varieties. How do you know what’s best for your cat?
Some toys have catnip inside. These might be a great way to encourage your cat to exercise, especially if he otherwise doesn’t pay much attention to toys. You can even get spray-on catnip to use on toys or scratching posts to draw attention to the things you want her to scratch up (and away from the things you don’t want her chewing).
Catnip is available in dried form, but you might notice your cat doesn’t react to it that much. Drying out catnip removes much of the essential oil and the smell that cats love so much.
The best kind of catnip is fresh catnip. Brushing up against the fresh leaves releases the scent and oil, and drives your cat crazy - in the best way possible! Catnip loses its potency the less fresh it is, so make sure to store it somewhere it won’t dry out, and use it up before it goes stale.
If your cat is one of the many cats who love this minty plant, giving him some catnip will bring some extra joy into his life. And watching him literally flip out over it will bring more smiles to yours.
- by Yuliya