Understanding the ins and outs of giving your feline catnip
August 15, 2012
If you've recently decided to adopt a cat from a New York animal shelter, there are a wide variety of products you'll have to pick up before your companion comes home. Pet beds, cat trees, toys and other products are must-haves, but many new pet parents pick up a container of catnip as well. Anyone who has ever been around a catnip-crazed feline will tell you that it's a unique experience to say the least, but most people don't know why cats love it so much. Here are a few of the most common questions that cat parents have about catnip and how it can factor into improving their pets' quality of life.
1. What is catnip? Whether you purchase it in dried form or grow it yourself, catnip is actually from the mint family and there are approximately 250 species of the plant. Cats are triggered by the scent and will sometimes eat and roll around in the plant as well. According to HowStuffWorks.com, the active ingredient that sparks this reaction is a chemical called nepetalactone, which causes all of that wacky behavior.
2. Do all cats like catnip? While some cats will go to town with a pile of catnip, there are others who don't have the same reaction. Typically, very young kittens and older cats have less of a reaction to catnip, but the results vary on an individual basis. If the cat is interested, he or she won't continue to play with the catnip for a long period of time - it may take up to two hours for the cat to "reset" and be able to have the same reaction again.
3. How much is too much? It's true that catnip can make your feline look like he or she is on some sort of bad drug, but it's not harmful at all to your cat, reports Cat-World.au. You should limit your cat's exposure to the plant based on his or her reactions. Some cats will become lazy, others will become hyperactive and some will become aggressive, but they'll know when they've had enough.
Interestingly, the news source reports that the active ingredient in catnip is effective at repelling mosquitoes, and rats and mice tend to avoid places where it grows. With all of these positive benefits, breaking out the catnip could be a beneficial and enjoyable way to spend time with your furry friend.