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Catnip: Everything You Need to Know of This Wonderful Herb


Although many people might have heard about Catnip, most still don’t know what exactly it is. One of the reasons why people have an interest in Catnip is why cats go crazy after “experiencing” it. Once you fully understand this fascinating herb, you will also see how it cures several behavioural disorders in felines too. 

In this article, you will get to learn about Catnip from the inside out and the medicinal uses it has on cats. You will also see if we humans have anything to do with it or not. So let us get started,

What Exactly is a Catnip?

Catnip, or Nepeta Cataria, is a herb from the mint family. Though they have their origin in Eurasia, Catnip is now spread to most corners of the world. They can now be seen growing next to country roads and even in people’s gardens as well. Essentially, they are easier to grow in North America and have feather-like light green foliage with lavender flowers. 

It has an active ingredient called Nepetalactone which is responsible for attracting the cats and creating a “soothing effect” on them. This same chemical can also be found in plants’ leaves and stems, which is why you might have seen cats gnawing on the plant more often.

How Does Catnip Work?

As stated above, the organic compound called Nepetalactone is behind giving those bizarre reactions in the cats. Once this chemical enters the cat’s nose, it binds to the olfactory cells which then send the signals to the brain.

Also, this very same Nepetalactone is stored in little microscopic bulbs that coat the plant’s leaves, stems and pods. It gets released when the plant is crushed, chewed or when your cats rub up against it. 

What Does Catnip Do to Cats?

Before knowing the complete effects of Catnip on cats, you should know how cats detect these chemicals. Firstly, cats have an extra scent organ called vomeronasal gland in the roof of their mouth. This is a special pathway that allows the scents which are collected in the nose and mouth to be carried to the brain. 

Catnip is a chemical that mimics feline sex hormones, hence cats enjoying this substance often display behaviours which are akin to a female cat in heat. The behaviour includes signs of affection, relaxation, happiness etc. While some cats will display active behaviours like playfulness or even sometimes aggression.  

How to Use a Catnip?

There are quite a few ways on how you can use a catnip with your cat. You can try and experiment the following methods and pick the one which is most favourable for your felines. So here are those,

  • Dried Catnip: It is one of the easiest ways to administer catnips to your cats, as they can be chewed or ingested by them. You can also consider placing the herb on your cat’s favourite toy, scratching post, bed or even as treats.
  • Catnip Plants: If you’d like to give your cats fresh catnip, nothing can be better than growing your own catnip plant. Most pet stores have live catnip plants that allow you to sprinkle them in various places
  • Catnip Toys: The most common way of offering the herb, catnip toys come in a wide range of styles that keep your cats absolutely entertained.  You can find a variety of Catnip Toys here at PetsWorld to gift your lovely felines.
  • Catnip Balls: Apart from toys, you can just give your cats a solid catnip ball to keep them engaged. However, your cats can get bored of it quickly, although you can keep them riveted by inserting a larger amount of herb in it. 

Do Humans also React to Catnip?

No, at least not to the extent these cats do. Yet, Catnips are known to be used as an alternative medicine to alleviate insomnia, migraines and also to relieve swelling and arthritis etc in humans. Catnips are also used as mosquito repellent although it won’t give the efficacy of modern repellents. This is mostly used by those who have sensitive skin and can’t rely on modern mosquito repellents.

In a Nutshell

You have seen how catnips can be of tremendous use to relax your cats and keep them engaged. This is particularly useful when you are not around your house for a while or you want to sedate your cats when crackers are burnt during festivals mildly. Just remember the ways you need to use them, and your cats will surely have a positive experience with them. 


An avid nature and animal lover, Akhil likes to read and watch anything related to wildlife. He also has a great interest in athletics, mainly track and field events and is a big Masala Dosa fan.

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