Catnip, Cataria, Catmint, Catwort – this plant is known by many names. But what is it? What does it do to cats and why? Is it dangerous? Alright, let us get all scientific for a moment. Catnip, or Nepeta Cataria, is a perennial herb and a member of the Mint family. It was once native only to Europe and Asia but due to its prolific nature, once introduced to North America and Canada, it now grows as a widespread weed. Catnip is known for its ability to get cats ‘high’. A chemical called nepetalactone is responsible for this reaction.
When a cat that is sensitive to catnip is exposed to it, you can generally anticipate lots of delighted rolling around, crying, kicking and generally blissful behavior. Apparently the reaction to catnip is through the olfactory system and sniffing it has a stimulant response in cats, even those that have a weakened ability to smell. Eating it, on the other hand, causes a sedative response. Not every cat is sensitive to catnip, however. The most vivid reactions are usually those from cats of reproductive age, both male and female. Surprisingly, wild cats also have a predilection for catnip. Older cats and very young kittens are less likely to react to catnip and kittens younger than 8 weeks actually show an aversion to it.
The sensitivity to catnip is genetic, so some cats, regardless of age, will simply turn up their noses at it. If a cat is sensitive, the effects will generally last around 10 minutes, after which the cat will ‘acclimatize’ and stroll off to find something more interesting to do. But rest assured, it will be back in a couple of hours for another ‘fix’. Not to worry, there is generally no possibility of a cat ‘over-dosing’ on catnip. Cats know when they have had enough and will repel offers of more.
So, why buy catnip spray for your cat? Okay, first-off, there is nothing that beats the hilarity of a goofily happy, excited, rolling-on-the-floor feline, brought down from its lofty pedestal. But more importantly, it is a treat for your beloved pet that clearly demonstrates your lasting love and devotion, so definitely get it if you are feeling guilty about something pet-related. Even more importantly, your expensive new furniture, or in my case, my old sofa, will heartily thank you. Spray a bit of catnip spray on a scratching post or your cat’s bed and your scratched furniture legs and molested upholstery will sigh in relief.
As well, catnip spray is a great alternative to catnip-stuffed toys and actual dried catnip leaves. You can now avoid punctured toy mice with leafy debris trailing across your floors and behind your furniture. Simply douse some catnip spray on an ordinary toy mouse and watch the magic happen, as your cat goes off into paroxysms of unending bliss and nirvana. Catnip spray really is an excellent idea. It is a sealed-for-freshness, ready-to-dispense anytime treat for your grateful feline. Really, the only drawback is your cat will probably never stop pestering you for it!