Is there a scent you just can’t get enough of? Maybe it’s chocolate chip cookies or freshly ground coffee. These smells may be incredible, but our physiological reactions to them usually don’t involve rolling around, drooling, and spazzing out (unless, of course, that’s your style). There are many cats, however, that react this way when they get a whiff of catnip. If your cat is sensitive to the scent, prepare for some entertainment! What’s up with this phenomenon? Let’s find out!
First of all – what is catnip?
Catnip is a member of the mint family, a perennial herb called “Nepeta cateria.” The essential oil in catnip, nepetalactone, has a highly euphoric effect on cats who are sensitive to it.
Why is my cat freaking out?
No one knows for sure what goes on in a cat’s brain when it encounters catnip, but it has been determined that the chemical nepetalactone is what triggers the reaction. It is believed that catnip imitates the feline “happy” pheromones, and then stimulates the receptors in the brain that react to those pheromones. The euphoria is similar to how humans respond to hallucinogenic drugs. This sensitivity is inherited in an autosomal dominant gene. A third of cats are unaffected by catnip because the gene is not present. If your cat is sensitive to catnip, you’ll witness: sniffing, kicking, head shaking, mewing, purring, sneezing, licking, chewing, and rubbing against the catnip. All of the cat’s senses are involved, making it an energizing and exciting activity for your cat.
What’s the best way to give catnip to my cat?
Catnip can be used in toys, flakes and pellets, or spray mists. Catnip is safe, non-addictive, and recreational for your feline friend, but make sure you limit how often you give your cat a catnip toy – otherwise the entertaining effects will diminish.
Can I use catnip too?
Good news! Catnip isn’t just for cats. But rather than stirring up reckless abandon, it has calming effects for humans. Catnip has been grown in medicinal gardens for centuries, and it has soothing qualities similar to chamomile. The nepetalactone oil is also an effective mosquito repellant!
Keep your cats happy with the occasional catnip toy, and keep your cats healthy with the occasional visit to the Cat Clinic at Cherry Hill! We offer a variety of both medical and surgical services for your furry pals. Give us a call at (856) 662- 2662 for more information!