26 Surprising Facts About Catnip

Posted In: Behavior & Training, Feline Health & Wellness

1. Catnip is an herb in the mint family.

2, The catnip response is genetic.

3. Around 30% of cats lack the gene, therefore they show no response to catnip.

4. Nepetalactone is the chemical in catnip responsible for causing the reaction.

5. Big cats like tigers, lions, and bobcats also respond to catnip.

6. Elderly cats don’t typically respond to catnip.

7. Young kittens don’t respond to catnip either.

8. Cats react to catnip through inhalation.

9. Cats sniff, roll, lick, and often eat the herb. This is normal and harmless.

10. Inhaled catnip has a stimulating and euphoric effect.

11. Ingested catnip has a calming effect.

12. Male cats oftentimes like catnip more than female cats do because the same chemical can be found in a female cat’s urine.

13. The response lasts about 10 to 15 minutes.

14. It takes about an hour or two for the behavior to reset before a cat is capable of reacting to the catnip again.

15. Cats cannot overdose on catnip.

16. Catnip is not addictive.

17. Rubbing or sprinkling catnip on scratching posts can make them more attractive to cats.

18. Catnip in toys can keep cats more active, warding off obesity and other health problems.

19. Catnip is native to Europe and was imported to the United States and other countries.

20. Catnip is a perennial herb and will come back year after year.

21. In gardens, it can be quite aggressive and take over areas where it is not wanted.

22. You can grow catnip indoors in a container.

23. Catnip leaves can be crushed up to extract their oils or dried for use in tea.

24. In tea, catnip can provide a calming effect similar to that of chamomile.

25. The essential oil in catnip is ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET.

26. Unfortunately, it loses its ability to repel mosquitoes when applied to skin.  

We hope you learned something new about catnip! Give it a try, and see if your cat is one of the roughly 70% of cats who react to it!

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at two locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.