Cats And Catnip: Nine Things Your Cats Want You To Know

by missyzane

Is catnip like kitty marijuana? Is it addictive? Does it make cats mean? Read nine things your cats want you to know about cats and catnip.

Ask my cats, and they’ll tell you all catnip is not created equal. And that’s true of catnip cat toys, as well. How do you choose catnip and catnip toys your cats will love? Hint: The flowers and buds are more potent than leaves and stalks, and toys filled only with catnip and no cotton or other fillers are a lot more fun. Here are eight more things your cats want you to know about catnip.

Photo: itakefotos4u/iStockphoto

Nine Facts About Cats And Catnip

  1. Okay, we admit it. Catnip contains nepetalactone, an unsaturated lactone that has the same effect on some cats as marijuana has on some people. But waitCatnip plant... Is it addictive? No, it’s not, although cats always know where the ‘nip is stored and will ask for some from time to time. They’ll also help themselves if it’s in a place where they can get to it.
  2. Catnip, or Nepeta Cataria, is a strong-scented member of the mint family. It contains a volatile oil that’s easily released into the air and may be similar to one of the substances found in tomcat urine. Eeeuuu...Fortunately, humans do not pick up this scent, and cats love it. In fact, this pheromone in urine often triggers the same reaction in cats as catnip does.
  3. The buds and flowers are the most potent part of the catnip plant. The stalks and leaves? Most cats would tell you to save your money because catnip stalks and leaves aren’t much fun.
  4. Not all cats respond to catnip. Response to catnip is genetic, and not all cats have the “catnip gene.” And this gene isn’t fully developed until the cat is at least six months old, so your kitten’s not going to get much of a buzz from a pile of ‘nip or a catnip toy.
  5. Just a healthy pinch or two of catnip is enough to get the fun started. Put it in a mound on the floor, on your cat’s favorite scratching pad or in her bed.
  6. Many cats love nibbling catnip plants. Use a big pot, so it won’t fall over while your cat’s munching. To activate catnip you’ve grown yourself, crush the buds and leaves between your fingers to release the oils before giving it to your cat.
  7. While catnip can make some cats aggressive, most just love to roll around in it or eat it. To avoid conflicts if you have more than one cat, give everyone his or her little mound of ‘nip several feet apart.
  8. Keep your catnip fresh by storing it in the refrigerator or freezer.
  9. Not that you have one at your house, but big cats, like lions and tigers, love catnip too.

Uses For Catnip

Catnip's not just fun for cats. Use it to:

Use catnip to attract your cat to his scratching post

  • Encourage your cat to use his scratching post or pad.
  • To get your sedentary cat off the couch for some exercise.
  • As a mild appetite stimulant. Give your cat a mound of catnip to play with or eat before you serve his meal or sprinkle a little bit on his food.
  • To prevent spraying. Catnip is a "friendly" scent that can discourage urine marking and spraying. Put mounds of catnip everywhere your cat is urinating inappropriately or spray the areas with catnip spray.
  • Never use catnip to attract your cat to his litter box. Eating clumping litter can be very dangerous for cats.

Photo: © Adam Edwards |


Catnip Toys

The best catnip toys are filled completely with catnip with no cotton batting or other filler. Check independent pet supply retailers or shop online. While tiny toys are fun to bat and swat, your cat will enjoy big, kickable toys the most. He’ll wrestle with them, lick them and then take a nap on them. These are some of my cats’ favorite catnip toys.

Deluxe Hot Cat canip cat toy

 Deluxe Hot Cat

The Deluxe Hot Cat is four colorful, sturdy cotton twill links stuffed with 1 1/2 cups of super-potent organically grown catnip. At 20 inches long, it's just right for any size cat to kick and hug. Buy Now

Yeowww Catnip Pollock FishYeowww Catnip Pollock Fish catnip cat toy

My cats love this 11-inch long fish, stuffed to the gills with potent, organic Ducky World Yeowww Catnip. Boccelli wrestles with it, licks it and then takes a nap on it. Buy one for your cats now.

Hot Cats Playtime Mist Catnip SprayCatnip Spray Hot Cats catnip

Use this catnip spray to refresh old toys, entice your cat to use her scratching post or make her bed feel even more comfy and welcoming. The spray is made from the essential oil of Hot Cats' potent organic catnip. The blue bottle preserves freshness and holds four fluid ounces. Buy some now.


Yeowww Catnip Pollock Fish In Action!

My Favorite Links

They're all about cats, of course!

Cat Care From The Heart
Learn all about cats here.

Howard County Cat Club
A no-kill cat rescue with adult cats and barn cats for adoption.

Howard County Cat Club On Facebook
Look here for beautiful pictures of cats living in a no-kill, cageless shelter

Pampered Pets Pet Sitting
My day job!

Updated: 11/07/2013, missyzane
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sheilamarie on 07/31/2013

We are getting two new kittens in a couple of weeks. I'll keep this info in mind. Thanks!

sandyspider on 05/24/2013

Good information on catnip.

kimbesa on 05/06/2013

I've seen the Catnip Effect in much fun!

EliasZanetti on 05/06/2013

Just yesterday I had a conversation with a cat-experienced friend about the effects of valerian on cats. My cat is about 10 months and so far never tried catnip or something similar so your article is quite timely and a chance to learn more on that subject.

pkmcr on 05/06/2013

Really helpful and informative page - our cat goes slightly loopy each time we get a new toy for him with catnip on it!

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