What Is Catnip?
It is a plant that is originally from Europe and Asia. It is a fragrant plant that belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae that includes aromatic herbs like sage, basil, rosemary and oregano. Its scientific name is Nepeta cataria and is seldom called by various names such as catwort, catmint or field balm.
It has oil called Nepetalactone which can turn even the laziest person into a crazy one. These plants grow two to three feet tall, and their stems are sturdy with heart-shaped leaves on them. The flowers come on its tips and can be of blue, pink, white or purple colour. It has its effects only when it is grown fresh.
The oil called Nepetalactone, which, when cat smells, simulates the special receptors that sense chemicals called pheromones. The cat takes only one or two sniffs of this oil, and you would be able to see the effects on your cat. It might just last for 10 minutes and has a different impact on different cats. Once the cat reacts to it after that, it would take 2 hours for your cat to return towards catnip.
The cat gets an overwhelming feeling; this feeling has been compared to a hallucinogenic drug on humans. This brings out intense feeling in cats; they might act strangely, roll around, rub their face against any toy and might act crazy for a few minutes.
Do all the cats respond to it?
It is not essential that every cat reacts to catnip; as per the research, only 50-75% respond to it. Also, it has been seen that young and older cats are less likely to respond after smelling catnip.
Do other animals react the same way?
Various animals respond similarly after smelling this plant. Even lions, tigers and leopards do react the same way. It can also make mosquitoes, termites and flies away. As per the experts, this oil Nepetalactone is 10 times more effective than the chemical used in mosquito repellents. (See Why do Cats always land on their feet?)
Do humans use it?
It has been used by humans many times in the form of tea or as a medicine as it helps in curing nausea, headache and even toothaches.
Catnip: Toys and Training
It has been used many times for training the cats as people use it on their kittens so that they do not damage the furniture or can also sprinkle some on your friend whom you want your cat to be friendly with. Whether you use dried or fresh catnip or even if the cat bites it, catnip is not at all addictive.
Too much of a good thing?
Cats get to know when they have had enough catnip, but if it takes too much, it might experience vomiting or diarrhoea. But its body would come back into a state of balance naturally within a couple of minutes. But overall, it is safe and non-toxic. (See Do Cats Really Have Nine Lives?)