Answering Your Catnip FAQs

How much do you know about catnip? It’s your feline friend’s favorite plant! Below, your North Suffolk, VA veterinarian answers your most common questions about catnip and your four-legged companion.

What is Catnip, Anyway?

Catnip is actually an herb, classified in the same family as mint. The wild plant—originally from Europe, but since spread all over the world—is leafy green, and contains white flowers with distinctive purple spots.

The wild plant is dried and processed to create the catnip you’ll purchase in a pet store. It looks much like oregano or basil flakes. Catnip can be purchased raw, or it can be included in cat toys or infused into sprays and other products.

Why Does Catnip Affect Cats?

The oils of the catnip plant contain a particular chemical, nepetalactone, which causes a reaction in your cat’s brain. Many experts believe the chemical acts as a type of feline aphrodisiac, eliciting a kind of sexual response in your pet’s brain!

How Do Cats Respond?

Cats respond to catnip in a variety of ways. Some cats might roll around excitedly, rubbing their face or bodies in the area where raw catnip has been sprinkled. Others might run to and fro in an excited manner, while still others might lay on their back and stretch out in a state of bliss. It simply depends on the cat!

The effects of catnip will typically wear off in a few minutes, although this can vary depending on the type and amount of catnip that your cat is exposed to. In most cases, raw catnip is more potent than catnip infused into toys, sprays, or similar products.

Is Catnip Harmful in Any Way?

No, catnip is not harmful to your feline friend; it’s not possible for your feline friend to overdose on the herb. The chemical reaction that occurs in your cat’s brain does not cause them any harm whatsoever. Feel free to give your pet catnip as frequently as you’d like.

Why Isn’t My Cat Reacting to Catnip?

Have you tried out a catnip product on your pet without seeing any results? If your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, don’t worry—they’re perfectly healthy! Cats require a particular gene, inherited from their parents, to allow the chemical reaction in the brain. If Fluffy doesn’t possess this gene, catnip won’t cause a response.

Have more questions about catnip? Call your North Suffolk, VA vet.