Catnip: Is Your Cat A Fan?

Minnie having fun with his catnip toy

Is your cat totally turned on by catnip?  Does he become very mellow when exposed to it, or does it send him into fits of crazy activity?  It has different effects on cats, and some cats (as many as 1/3 of all cats) are not affected by it at all.

Why Does It Drive Some Cats Crazy And Not Others?

What is it in it that appeals to cats?  It contains an oil that acts as an hallucinogen that reduces cat’s inhibitions and creates a euphoric reaction that usually lasts about 15 minutes.  The attraction is genetic, so those cats without the genetic trait aren’t drawn to it at all.  Kittens do not respond to it, either.

How Catnip Can Help Your Cat

Catnip can help a cat in several ways.  If your cat has been under a lot of stress, for example company in the house, change in your schedule, a nip play session can help relieve his stress. Does your cat tend to be a couch potato?  Giving him a nip infused toy to play with will help get him moving.

If your cat is very timid, catnip play sessions can help draw him out of his shell and be more interactive.

Avoid Overexposure

It’s important, though, not to give your cat too much exposure to catnip.  Constant exposure will eventually make a cat immune to it’s effects.  If you live in a multi-cat household, and you’ve never given catnip to one of the cats,  do so in a separate area since it’s hard to tell how he’ll react. Male cats, in particular, can sometimes become more aggressive “under the influence.”.

Growing Your Own Nip

You can grow your own, but if you do, be sure the plants aren’t outside where other cats may have access to them.

If growing your own, you’ll need to dry it.  The best way is to hang bunches of it upside down in a dark, dry place.  Once it’s dried, strip off the leaves and blossoms (discard stems) and stow it away in an airtight container.  Be careful not to crush the leaves as this will release the oil prematurely and your crop will be wasted.

What To Look For When Buying

When buying prepackaged catnip, look for brands that are preferably organic and sell only catnip buds and leaves, no stems.  A high amount of stems signifies lower quality.  If the catnip you purchase comes in a bag, move it into an airtight container.

Some toys contain low quality catnip, or none at all.  I like the YEOWW toys, and cats absolutely love them!  A Yeoww toy is featured in the picture accompanying this post.

Try keeping a few toys “marinating” in fresh nip and pull one out once a week as a special treat for your cat.  He’ll love you for it! Keep it in a safe place your cats cannot access.  Some cats will go to crazy lengths to get to the nip!


Written by Karen


Karen is Publisher of Fully Feline. She also owns a pet care business in Overland Park, KS called Joy of Living.

3 Responses to "Catnip: Is Your Cat A Fan?"

  1. I’ve also had cats that go crazy over Valerian. I generally by powdered that is in gel caps (smells awful). I discovered the attraction when one of my cats would rub his face in the palm (and bite) where I had held the capsules when I would take them. So, whenever I took the Valerian, I would also open a capsule in my cats’ beds or on the scratching posts.


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