Catnip – everything you need to know
Catnip is a plant that has a mildly euphoric effect on cats, often making them revert to a kitten-like, playful state.
Some cat-owners might be concerned about giving their pet a plant that has such an effect, but there’s nothing to worry about. Argos Pet Insurance reveals everything you need to know about catnip:
What is catnip?
Nepeta Cataria, better known as catnip, is a type of herb that belongs to the mint family. It contains the feline attractant nepetalactone, which is released in oil when the plant’s leaves are crushed. The scent of the oil is what causes the reaction, but cats bite the leaves to release more oil. The effects of catnip last for around fifteen minutes.
Is it safe for my cat?
Catnip is safe as long as it is used in moderation! Too much may cause vomiting and diarrhoea so be careful. If this does happen, however, it is usually mild and transient but always be careful not to overindulge.
While catnip is usually just used as a play item, it also relieves stress in cats, causing a carefree attitude. It may be handy to play with during stressful times, such as returning from a vet trip.
It’s best not to overindulge your cat with catnip, saving it as an occasional treat. Giving it to your cat too often will eventually wear out the affect, so just one weekly playtime is recommended.
It is also safe for you and can be brewed to soothe an upset stomach.
What is the best kind of catnip?
You can purchase catnip in a variety of ways. The crushed leaves can be placed inside toys, which you can buy online or from shops. However, some cat experts warn against this as the plant’s stems can be used as toy filler, which are sharp and potentially dangerous if your pet bites the toy. Buying a refillable toy that you can fill with your own catnip is a safer option than a sealed toy.
Loose catnip can be bought from many pet shops and online stores, allowing you to give your cat loose catnip or even make your own toys, sewing a pouch for the treat.
If you want to know exactly where your catnip comes from, you can grow your own. Be careful though – you might have all the neighbourhood cats eating it!
My cat isn’t interested in catnip.
An interest in catnip is hereditary and has an effect on 50-75% of cats. It doesn’t tend to affect kittens either, with reactions usually seen in cats aged six months or older.
If your cat seems to have lost interest in a catnip toy they once wouldn’t leave alone, all of the oil from the leaves may have been released, so you may need to refill the toy with fresh catnip or replace it altogether.
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