According To Pet Experts, Is Catnip Bad For Your Kitty?

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Nepeta cataria. or what we call catnip

Catnip is a herb that is usually found in European regions naturally. Its scientific name is Nepeta Cataria. It is known to make your cat become ‘high’ and has a similar effect on cats the same way marijuana affects humans. They seem to love this plant, and it can work in any form, whether it’s just leaves, dried and crushed leaves or oil extract entirely.

It is potent in all three forms and is known to infatuate some cats. Known responses to catnip are that cats seem to meow a lot, sometimes they purr, and even growl sometimes.

In special cases, they may become aggressive, so it is crucial to use this herb carefully around cats. But after all these facts, what do researchers say about the use of catnip? And whether or not it is cruel to use catnip on your cat. This article tells you more about catnip and what cat researchers think about it.

A cat licks catnip

Can it cause behavioral problems in cats?

Catnip does not usually cause cats to act out. Still, some cats tend to become quite aggressive and possessive of their special stash of catnip, so sometimes a cat may hiss at you or try to bite you or even growl if you try to take away its catnip. In such a situation where your cat does not stop attacking you after you take away their catnip, then you should move away from the room or take your cat to another room. Make them sit alone for a while, so their boiling temper cools off, making it easier to handle and discipline them about catnip.

How much catnip is ‘too much?

Catnip is quite an intoxicating drug, and the intoxication can last about 10 to 15 minutes, after which your cat will surprisingly lose interest. But it is recommended by researchers that you should not expose your cat to catnip more than once a day.

If you expose your cat more than once a day, then it is highly likely that your cat will lash out at you when you take away their catnip. It may happen when you thought it was ‘enough for the day’ after getting them hooked on catnip for some time.

Even if you use oil-based catnip put in a spray bottle, it is recommended to spray your kitty tower or kitty toys only once a day, not more than that. If you do it more than that, then be ready to deal with the consequences.

Is it unethical to give your cat catnip?

According to research done on cats, it is said that no chemical may harm your cat. They are not harmful if chewed or swallowed and pose not many threats. Catnip can, however, cause stomach problems if too much is ingested in a single moment.

It would be best if you stay near or next to your cat when they are intoxicated with their catnip. Since your cats may become too excited with their catnip and may rip into any covering or case that holds the catnip, it may cause a mess and a plethora of other problems.

Funny white cat plays with pink catnip mouse

Is catnip for cats the same as marijuana and other drugs are for humans?

According to contrary belief, catnip is NOT the same as marijuana and cocaine. As marijuana and cocaine directly act on the brain’s ability to make decisions, it also affects how fast or slow electrical responses travel to and from the brain. Catnip, however, does not similarly affect the brain.

It causes cats to become more playful and excited, after which they will zone out and go to sleep. This is a similar behavior humans do, which is why many people mistake both drugs as the same. Catnip may induce some behaviors that may point to intoxication and addiction, but it could not further be from the truth.

Catnip is from the mint family, and when catnip is crushed, it has a similar smell to mint. This particular smell attracts many cats to it, not because it is intoxicating for them, but because they love the scent so much! And that is also why cats can get bored of catnip and may let it go after 15 to 20 minutes of playing with them.

It is why cats tend to go back to normal after a while once their catnip is removed from them. They do not feel withdrawal to catnip, too, whereas that’s not the case with humans. Some people tend to experience quite difficult withdrawal symptoms from different types of drugs.

A lovely cat eating catnip

Not all cats go haywire for catnip, and response towards catnip will vary

It is no surprise at all to see that many cats are not that crazy about catnip and will not react as excitedly towards it. Surprisingly, this has everything to do with genetics, and response to catnip is an autosomal dominant trait, which is why cats that respond well to catnip are in the majority.

So to summarize, it means that if both the parents of the cat do not respond as actively or they do not respond as a whole, then it is highly unlikely that their offspring will respond as well.


In a nutshell, your cats should get some playtime using catnip. It may help calm down aggressive cats, but it is always recommended not to use too much. Catnip is also easily grown in many different parts of the world, so it is recommended that you do not use too much catnip, even if it is to calm down your crazy cat.

But catnip is used by many trainers and researchers to set up a reward system for cats. Some people reward their kitties with little pieces of dried catnip as a reward for the following command or doing a fascinating trick, which promotes the cat’s interest and fulfills their catnip quota. Maybe you’ll get lucky and get a cat that does not have any interest in smelling catnip.

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