Do Cats Get High on Catnip?


If you have a cat, it may absolutely love catnip. And if you have multiple cats, you may have noticed that at least one of them is not really fond of catnip. Since cats can have such different reactions to catnip, plenty of owners have questions about this substance. To help provide insight, as well as clarify whether certain beliefs about catnip are fact or fiction, we’ve put together a catnip guide with everything you need to know:

Catnip 101

While catnip can be stuffed into all kinds of toys, it’s not something that’s manufactured by humans. Instead, catnip is actually a herb. Specifically, it’s a perennial known by the scientific name of Nepeta cataria. Catnip belongs to the mint family, and plants can grow as tall as three feet in height.

The reason that some cats are so fond of this herb is it contains a compound known as nepetalactone. When cats smell this compound, they may experience a type of high. And if they eat catnip, they may get sleepy and want to take a nap. However, the reason that not all cats are interested in this herb is a gene determines whether or not they have those types of reactions. For around 50% of all cats, this herb won’t trigger any type of reaction. Also, some cats do react in a somewhat aggressive manner to this herb.

Although cats with the catnip gene may get very excited by it, that doesn’t mean there’s any cause for concern. Catnip is not a drug. That means it’s not addictive and there’s no concern of an overdose. The worst possible scenario is a cat eats too much and ends up vomiting or having diarrhea.

Buying, Storing, Growing and Using Catnip

As a natural substance, catnip can provide a safe and enjoyable experience for many pets. If you purchase loose catnip instead of just a toy that contains it, be sure to store the catnip in a container with a secure lid. Otherwise, there’s a chance that you may walk into your home and discover your cat having a messy catnip feast!

Since catnip is just a herb, it’s something that cat owners can grow on their own. An added benefit of this plant is it will keep away mice, rats and mosquitos. The one thing to keep in mind is unless you want to attract all the strays in your neighborhood, it’s best to stick with planting a small patch.

For cats who enjoy catnip, this herb is a great way to provide them with an enjoyable treat. Another use of catnip is to rub it on a scratching post that a cat has been neglecting. This will remind your cat to resume scratching in that specific area. At Pet Wants Cincy, we offer Organic Catnip for your felines!

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