What Really is Catnip and Why Does My Cat Love it so Much?

Sparkle Kitty

If you’ve ever seen a cat on catnip, then you’ve probably witnessed some hilarious cat antics. Catnip makes cats go crazy, and cat owners know no feline can resist catnip when they see one. But, have you ever wondered what makes catnip so addicting to our feline friends?

You’re about to find out.


What Is Catnip?

Catnip or “catmint” or “catswort” is scientifically called “Nepeta Cataria.” The mint family has a very fragrant smell and is native to Africa, Asia, Europe, and even North America. There are over 250 catnip species across the globe, and they can grow up to two to three feet in height with heart-shaped leaves and blue, white, pink, or purple flower buds sprouting from them.

The plant can affect cats whether they are given fresh or dried up and ground to pieces.


What Does it Do to Cats?

A catnip plant’s leaves and stems contain “nepetalactone,” an oil that stimulates cats’ special chemical-sensing receptors when they smell it. The effect that this oil has on cats is the same as that of hallucinogenic drugs on humans. Nepetalactone creates a chemical reaction in the cat’s body that gives them an overwhelming sense of euphoria or happiness.

Cats often paw at catnip, rub it, lick it, and chew it. Some cats even growl and drool when smelling catnip. However, the effect of catnip wears off after a few minutes, and you can expect your feline friend to be back to his old self after that.

Catnip affects cats differently. Some may go a little crazier than others when smelling or eating catnip, while kittens and older cats are less likely to be affected by it. The plant is safe for cats; no evidence shows otherwise. Be careful not to give your kitty too much, though, as they can get an upset tummy from eating a lot of it.

Sparkle Kitty