Understanding Catnip – And How it Affects Fluffy

You’ve probably heard of catnip before, and you might have even given it to your feline friend on occasion. But how much do you know about this fascinating plant? Allow your Sugar Land, TX veterinarian to fill in the blanks—read on to learn everything you need to know about catnip.

What is Catnip?

Catnip is an herb, classified in the same family as mint. The wild plant is leafy and green, and contains white flowers with distinctive purple spots.

The wild plant is dried and processed to create the “raw” catnip you’ll purchase in a pet store. It looks similar to oregano or basil flakes that you might have in your spice cabinet. Catnip can also be included in cat toys, or infused into sprays and other products.

What Makes Cats Respond to Catnip?

The oils of the catnip plant contain a chemical called nepetalactone, which causes a reaction in your cat’s brain. It triggers the same area of the brain responsible for sexual responses, so catnip is a kind of feline aphrodisiac!

How Do Cats Respond?

Some cats might roll around excitedly, rubbing their faces or bodies in the spot where raw catnip has been sprinkled. Other cats might run around in an excited manner, while others might just lay on their back and stretch out in a state of feline bliss. It just depends on the cat themselves!

The effects of catnip will typically wear off in a few minutes, although this can vary slightly depending on the type and amount of catnip that your cat is given. Most of the time, raw catnip proves more potent than toys, sprays, or other products that contain catnip.

Is Catnip Safe?

Catnip is perfectly safe for Fluffy. It’s not possible for your cat to overdose on the herb. The chemical reaction that occurs in your cat’s brain does not cause them any harm, so feel free to give your pet catnip as often as you want.

Why Isn’t My Cat Reacting to Catnip?

Have you tried out a catnip product on your pet without seeing any results? If your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, don’t worry—they’re perfectly healthy. Cats actually require a particular gene, inherited from their parents, to facilitate the neuro-chemical reaction in the brain. If Fluffy doesn’t possess this gene, catnip won’t do anything!

Call your Sugar Land, TX vet clinic to make Fluffy’s next appointment.

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