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"Find out why your cat loves catnip and the effect it has on them"

What Effects Does Catnip Have On My Cat?

Catnip is a perennial herb from the mint family labiatae.

The term ‘catnip’ is thought to originate from the response cats show towards the plant.  It is the nepetalcataria variety that most cats enjoy.  

What happens when my cat has catnip?

The active ingredient nepetalactone, is an essential oil which alters the behaviour of domestic and other cat species.  Around half to two thirds of cats will respond to this oil. Kittens may not react and only develop the full behavioural change at an older age.

A typical response includes sniffing, chewing, licking, head shaking, followed by chin, cheek, and body rubbing.  The body rolling is similar to oestrous patterns and has thought to be an aphrodisiac, but this is unlikely.  

Additional responses may include stretching, drooling, jumping, licking, aggression, and hyperactivity. The so called "high" will usually last between five and ten minutes.

1. Is it harmful to my cat?
No, cats wont overdose as they usually will refuse it once thy have had enough.

2. How can I give it to my cat?

  • Most pet shops will sell toys filled with catnip!
  • Fresh, it can be grown indoors
  • Dried, you can sprinkle it on toys or the floor
  • Spray, refresh old catnip toys or play areas

    3. How much can I give?
    There is no specific dose. If dried just a sprinkle at a time on scratching posts/floors etc. Avoid feeding in their bowl - if you cat eats too much it can cause digestive problems.

    Purina Vet Adviser

    PetCare Advice CentreThe Purina PetCare Advice Centre and Vet Adviser brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.

  • Last updated: 24 April 2015 at 04:11 PM
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