What Does Catnip Do To Cats? Your Carmel Veterinary Clinic Explains Why Cats Love Catnip

What Does Catnip Do To Cats?  Your Carmel Veterinary Clinic Explains Why Cats Love Catnip

What is Catnip?  Catnip is simply a herb from the mint family.  The oil from this mint plant causes some cats to act very strangely.

What does catnip do to my cat?  Does catnip make my cat high?  The catnip oil aroma is thought to be quite pleasurable .  At our Carmel veterinary clinc, we see cats who exhibit rolling, rubbing, and some who become very hyperactive and zoom around when exposed to catnip.  It is not known what areas of the brain catnip stimulates, but it thought to stimulate the same receptors as the “feline happy pheromones.”  Most cats just enjoy the aroma, however, some cats will eat catnip and can become very mellow and zone out.

Why does one of my cats go crazy over catnip and the other ignores it?  At our Carmel veterinary clinic, about half of the cats seem to be reactive to catnip. This inherited sensitivity comes from cats who possess an autosomal dominant gene.  This genetic trait is responsible for the cat’s reaction to catnip and it is believed to be simply a genetic accident.  So if you cat ignores catnip, do not waste money on more catnip treats and toys.  Some cats can seem to grow accustomed to the presence of catnip.  This may be as the catnip looses its freshness, so it is recommended to replace catnip regularly.

Is catnip safe for my cat?  Yes, catnip is safe and has no known adverse side effects.  Rarely some cats can exhibit signs of aggression if approached while enjoying catnip.  The main reason we recommend using catnip at our Carmel veterinary clinic is to help stimulate play, exercise, use of cat trees and scratching posts.  Indoor cats often suffer from lack of exercise, obesity, as well as lack of mental stimulation and boredom.  If catnip helps your cat get active and stay mentally alert, then use it.

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