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How Long Does Catnip Take To Kick In? Effects & Tips

Written by: Cassidy Sutton

Last Updated on April 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat enjoying cat nip

How Long Does Catnip Take To Kick In? Effects & Tips

Many cat owners have witnessed the effects of catnip on their feline companions, and most people agree it’s pretty entertaining. Catnip (nepeta cataria) is an herb native to parts of Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and some areas of China. It’s a member of the mint family, and many cats are crazy about it.

Today, we’re unraveling the mystery of why catnip has such a strong effect on cats and how long the effects last. Sit back and relax, and maybe give your kitty some catnip. It’s perfectly harmless.


How Long Do Catnip Effects Last?

how long do the effects last_
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Catnip offers a quick kitty high that only lasts about 10 minutes. After that, your cat loses interest. Some cats mellow after the experience and take a nap.

After ingestion, cats are immune for about 2 to 3 hours before they can experience the effects of catnip again. This is because of nepetalactone, the chemical compound found in catnip that attracts cats to the plant in the first place.

Effects of Catnip: Smelling vs Eating

All cats are unique individuals and, therefore, react differently. However, there are a few effects observed regularly in felines. Typical effects include:

  • Rubbing on the plant
  • Rolling around in the plant or on the floor
  • Drooling
  • Jumping and running
  • Vocalizations
  • Loss of focus
  • Falling asleep
how does catnip affect cats
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Your cat won’t experience all these effects at once. Some cats like to sit in piles of catnip and drool, and other cats get the zoomies. These reactions are natural, so there’s no need to worry.

Smelling catnip and eating catnip produce different effects. Smelling is the most potent way for a cat to experience the high from this minty herb. Nepetalactone binds to receptors1 in a cat’s nose, stimulating the “happy” neurons in the brain.

On the other hand, eating catnip provides a more mellow and relaxing high.

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Can Too Much Catnip Be Dangerous?

Catnip is non-addictive. It’s unlikely that your cat will overdose on catnip. The effects of catnip shouldn’t last any longer than the timeframe specified. However, vomiting and diarrhea will likely occur if the kitty overeats the plant.

If this happens with your cat, remove the catnip and don’t offer it again until the signs stop. If the signs continue, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

cat sniffing dried catnip
Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

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Offering Catnip to Your Cat

There are several ways to feed your cat catnip. Keep in mind that some cats aren’t interested in catnip, so don’t force it. Try different methods to see if your cat has a preference.

Whichever option you choose, remember to buy the best quality catnip you can afford. Organic and non-GMO blends are best.

1. Live plants

cat with green eyes in catnip
Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

Many cats love chewing on live plants. Luckily for many cat owners, catnip is easy to grow and maintain. It requires little care and occasional watering. Don’t worry if you have a knack for killing plants. Catnip is very forgiving!

You can find a catnip plant at most garden stores, or you can grow the plant yourself from seed if you’re looking for a project.

2. Dried Catnip

Yeowww! Organic Catnip

Dried catnip is the most common form of catnip on the market. Many grocery stores, garden shops, and pet shops have dried catnip. It is the best option if you don’t know if your cat will like catnip. Not all catnip is created equal; some brands are better than others. Try a different brand if your cat isn’t interested in the dried catnip.

You can purchase dried catnip in different sizes, from small 1-oz bags to large 12-oz containers.

3. Stuffed Cat Toys

Yeowww Catnip Banana Cat Toy

You can find all kinds of stuffed catnip toys. They are a great interactive option for cats that get the zoomies after sniffing the plant. Try a fun catnip yellow banana or nighttime catnip rolls for nights when your cat likes to zoom around the house at 3 am.

Some toys come with a container of dried catnip, so you don’t have to buy any. If you order online, check the product description to see if you need to buy dried catnip.

Our Favorite Catnip Toy

Great cat toys are crucial to keeping your cat happy and healthy. We love Hepper's Catnip Stick Toy because it's handmade in the USA, available in a cool range of colors, and sturdy enough to withstand your cat's sharp claws. Best of all, you won't find any filler here just 100% organic catnip!

Hepper Stick Catnip Cat Kicker Toy
  • No Filler - Like all the best cat toys our is stuffed with 100% organic catnip. Cheap cat toys with...
  • Flexible Play - Simple plush shape is great for biting, scratching and pawing. It can start life as...
  • Durably Designed - Our cat safe toys are hand-stitched with a double-lined exterior construction for...

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

4. Oils and Sprays

bSerene cat spray

Catnip oils and sprays are a nice option if you don’t want to clean up catnip crumbles throughout your house. They also last longer than dried catnip. You can apply the spray or oil to any surface or toy for a little extra fun.

bSerene Catnip Oil and Spray is a great option for anxious, stressed cats. Or, try Petlink’s Bliss Mist Cat Spray.

5. Catnip Bubbles

Pet Qwerks Incredibubbles for Cats

Catnip bubbles like Pet Qwerks catnip bubbles are great for kitties who like to have a little fun. Moving bubbles give cats an exciting catnip experience by watching a moving object. Then, they get to enjoy the perks of popping the bubble!

6. Catnip Treats

FELINE GREENIES 10205294 Natural Dental Cat Treats

Treats might be a good alternative if your cat likes to eat the plant. Some treats, like Greenies Catnip Dental Treats, offer additional benefits.  Some treats are hard, soft, or come in stick form. If your cat is a picky eater, you may have to try a few before finding a preferred treat.

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Catnip Alternatives For Cats Not Interested In Catnip

We covered just about everything you need. But what if your cat isn’t interested in catnip?

  • Tatarian Honeysuckle: A study showed that cats responded positively to Tatarian honeysuckle. Some cats even preferred honeysuckle more than catnip. Tatarian honeysuckle is an excellent option for olfactory enrichment if your cat doesn’t like catnip.
  • Valerian: Valerian produces a high similar to catnip, except cats usually fall asleep immediately. It is a great option if your cat needs an extra-long cat nap!
  • Silvervine: Silvervine is similar to catnip and produces a euphoric feeling that lasts up to 30 minutes. It’s also an excellent alternative for anti-catnip kitties.

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Final Thoughts

The life of a housecat can get boring. Toys are a great option, but some cats need extra encouragement to play. Catnip gives your cat a nice buzz while encouraging them to stay away from houseplants.

It’s perfectly natural if your cat doesn’t like catnip, but that doesn’t mean your cat has to miss out on the fun effects of other herbs! Try different plants and see what your cat responds best to. Your cat will appreciate your efforts regardless!

Featured Image Credit: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

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