Learn All You Need to Know About Catnip

How much do you know about catnip? It’s extremely common and you might have even given it to your feline friend before. But is it safe for your beloved pet? Read on as your Dallas, GA vet tells you everything you need to know.

What is Catnip, Exactly?

Catnip is an herb, very similar to herbs in your spice garden like mint or basil. The wild plant stands a few feet high and has white flowers with characteristic purple spots, and now grows all over North America and other parts of the world after originating in Europe. The wild plant is processed into “raw” catnip, which looks like oregano or other dried spices, and you can purchase it in most pet stores and some retail outlets. Catnip may also be included in toys or even infused into sprays and other products.

Why Does Catnip Affect Cats?

The source of the reaction caused by catnip is a chemical substance called nepetalactone, which is found in the catnip plant’s stem and leaves. Nepetalactone triggers a chemical response in your cat’s brain. The area of the brain that’s triggered is the same one responsible for sexual responses—that’s why some experts think of catnip as a sort of feline aphrodisiac!

How Does Catnip Affect Cats?

Different cats react to catnip in different ways when they’re given catnip. Some stretch out in a state of bliss and just relax, while others will dart excitedly to and fro. A lot of cats rub their faces or bodies in the general spot where catnip has been sprinkled.

Have you given your pet catnip without seeing any reaction? Don’t worry. Your cat isn’t broken or ill, he or she simply doesn’t have the proper gene. It turns out that cats require a particular gene, inherited from both parents, to experience catnip’s effects. If your cat doesn’t have this gene, catnip won’t do anything.

Is Catnip Safe?

Yes, catnip is completely safe for your pet. The chemical reaction caused by nepetalactone isn’t harmful in the least, and the effects will usually wear off after just a few short minutes. And your cat can’t overdose or become addicted to the herb, so feel free to give your cat catnip as often as you would like.

Want to learn more about the ins and outs of your cat’s behavior? Contact your Dallas, GA veterinary clinic to speak with the pros.

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