Meowrrr, catnip! Officially known as Nepeta cataria, catnip is an herb that’s part of the Lamiaceae (mint) family. It seems to easily grow everywhere -ÔÇô on a sunny windowsill or even in your garden (although it can be a bit invasive, so experts urge caution in the garden). It’s not hard to come by and I have never heard of catnip trafficking, which is good news for all those catnip-lovin’ kitties.
And, really, is there anything better than watching your cat go nuts on the nip?
Cats can get their high from eating catnip or simply sniffing it. While no one quite understands the exact effects catnip has on a cat (well, duh, we aren’t cats), experts do know that the active ingredient is nepetalactone, which appears to mimic pheromones causing various reactions in kitties. "Nip trips" typically last 10 to 15 minutes, and most cats need some time before they can feel the effects again.
Even big cats get in on the fun! Tigers and leopards have been known to delight in the pleasures of the nip — rolling, snorting, and rubbing their big velvet heads on the ground.
Does your little house tiger like catnip? Here are some of the different types of catnip kitties. Which is yours?
Is your cat a nip junkie? Does he know where you hide the stash and does he come running from the far corners of the house when he hears the cupboard open?
Junkies are the most entertaining of the catnip kitties. They really get into it -ÔÇô rolling around, jumping, running in circles, batting at imaginary items, salivating, and rubbing on things. Often, after a spurt of activity, they finally just pass out after the effects wear off.
The stoner is definitely into the nip, but it mellows him out, big time. He may just sit and stare.
Cats have been known to stretch out on the floor in the middle of the pile of catnip and just lounge. And, like any good stoners, some cats demonstrate an increased appetite when doped up on the stuff. Tuna nachos, anyone?
Some cats like catnip but can take it or leave it. My cat Romeo is a recreational user. He’s actually pretty "meh" about it, and when it’s around, he may or may not imbibe. If he does, it usually involves some sniffing, chewing, and a few rolls around on the floor before he gets up, composes himself, and continues on with whatever he was doing prior to the detour.
Some cats get mean on nip. Owners report their cats’ claws coming out, growling, or picking fights with their housemates. These "mean drunks" are probably best separated from their peers while using. Put ’em in the household clink for a while until they sober up. Can you imagine one of the big cats we mentioned above having a bad trip?
There are varying opinions, but the consensus is that between 30 and 50 percent of cats don’t respond to catnip at all! And it’s believed to be an inherited sensitivity, so if a cat abstains, her offspring will as well.
My cat Pugsley is a square. No matter how many catnip toys or loose nip I bring home, he just doesn’t care. He just sits and looks at it. Bor-ing.
Meanwhile, some cats have a serious aversion to it. No amount of peer pressure will get these guys to join the party.
Fortunately, catnip isn’t toxic to cats, so your kitties can partake whenever they feel the urge, and it comes in many forms, which we detailed in our entirely satiric article “What Your Catnip Says About You.” Plus, according to WebMD, some humans use catnip for medicinal properties and for its calming effects, much like chamomile tea.
Dude, pass me the catnip!