Catnip Questions and Answers: Why Cats Love It

Ahh, catnip. That irresistible pleasure to which cats naturally gravitate. This perennial herb from the mint family labiatae invites cats to sniff, chew, lick, shake their heads, and roll their bodies. They may also drool, stretch, jump, and appear “high.” Below are four catnip questions you might’ve wondered about but never asked.

catnip questions

The term itself – catnip – is believed to have originated from the response cats have towards the plant. The variety cats tend to enjoy most is the nepetalcataria variety. And even though it is completely normal for cats to gravitate towards this herb and revel in its delightful aftermath, you may have a few questions about it.

How do you offer catnip to your cat?

Typically, you can find it at most pet stores in toys for cats that are filled with it. You can also grow it fresh inside or offer it your cat dried, sprinkling on his toys or directly onto the floor.

How much can you safely give your cat?

According to, there is no specific dose.  If offered dry, just sprinkle a bit on scratching posts and on the floor. Don’t feed it to your cat in his bowl, however.  If he consumes too much of the catnip, it can lead to digestive problems.

What causes the reaction cats have to catnip?

Nepetalactone, the active ingredient, is an essential oil that temporarily changes the behavior of domestic cats and other cat species. Not all cats respond to this, however, and kittens might not even react at all until they are older.

Can a cat overdose on catnip?

Again, according to, cats won’t overdose as they typically refuse it once they have reached their limit and have had enough!  The so-called “high” associated with catnip usually lasts up to 10 minutes.

And remember, “if you don’t talk to your cat about catnip, who will?”


Written by Ann Butenas

Ann Butenas

An internationally-recognized author and writer, Ann began her professional writing career at age 12 and began speaking while in college. She has been published thousands of times over the past three decades in all media forms, was former editor and publisher of KC Metro Woman magazine, and has also hosted three talk radio shows in the Kansas City area.