The Definitive Guide To Catnip

Get answers to all the questions you ever had about catnip, ranging from Is it Safe? to Where Can I Buy It?

If you DO want to buy catnip here are The World's Best Catnip Toys

Let's dive straight into the top 20 questions that people ask about catnip. 

1.  What is Catnip and What Does it Do For Cats?

Catnip is a plant, Latin name: Nepeta cataria that has an extraordinary effect on around 80% of cats.

An encounter with either the plant itself or with a catnip-stuffed toy can make cats excited, and they may sniff and roll around on the ground or over the catnip.

2.  Is Catnip a Drug?  Is it Legal?

The active chemical in the plant is called nepetalactone and has been likened to LSD. However, its effect is short-lived and harmless.  Catnip is legal and can be grown as a plant in your garden.

3.  Is Catnip Safe for My Cat?

Used responsibly, catnip is entirely safe and can give your cat a lot of short term pleasure.  Very old or very young cats may not exhibit a response to catnip, but it is not harmful.  Some cats become aggressive after experiencing a catnip "high" so humans should exercise caution around them.  Catnip is not addictive.

4.  Is Catnip Safe for a Pregnant Cat?

 Little authoritative written information on this but comments seen were against giving catnip to pregnant cats due to the risk of physical harm whilst under the influence or the risk of uterine stimulation.

5.  From What Age Can I Give Catnip to a Kitten?

Young cats do not react to the chemicals in catnip and may even display an aversion to it.  The catnip response is hereditary and usually develops at 3 - 6 months old.

6.  Is Catnip Safe for Older Cats?

Absolutely!  The catnip effect will diminish with age in some older cats but there is no medical reason why an older cat shouldn't be given catnip.  

7.  Should Cats Consume Catnip?

There is no evidence that ingesting catnip in small quantities is harmful to cats.  If a large amount were to be ingested it might result in a tummy ache, some vomiting or diarrhoea.  A cat is unlikely to consume such an amount voluntarily.  Cats can enjoy treats infused with catnip such as Hatchwell Yoghurt & Catnip Mice Treats

8.  Does Catnip have an Effect on Humans?

Catnip can have a sedative effect on humans. Made into a tea, catnip has calming properties similar to chamomile.  It is also an attractive garden plant with purple flowers.  Humans can also derive great pleasure from watching our cats enjoy it.

9.  Is Catnip Harmful to Babies?

There is little reliable evidence in this area, but common sense would dictate keeping cat toys away from young children.  If a young child has ingested catnip we would suggest contacting your usual medical service for advice.

10.  Can a Cat Overdose on Catnip?

 Catnip does not act like a drug and so there is no possibility of "overdosing".  In theory there is a risk of a cat eating an excess of leaves of a catnip plant, but this would, at worst, induce mild nausea or vomiting.  A cat is likely to be self-regulating in this regard.

11.  Should I Give Catnip to My Cat?

Certainly.  Approximately 80% of cats will be happier than they have ever been!  A sealed catnip toy is a great way to start.  An entry level Top Grade Catnip Toy will cost only a few Pounds/Dollars.

12.  How Long Does the Effect Of Catnip Last?

 A catnip session is likely to last around 10 - 15 minutes.  After this time a cat will lose interest.  The cat will then not be susceptible to the effect of catnip for an hour or two.

13.  Does Catnip Potency Decline Over Time?

 Dried catnip is used in toys.  This gives it a long shelf life of a year or more.  Left in the open air, the potency of a toy will decrease over time.  Reinvigorate the toy for your cat by massaging the toy to release more catnip aroma stored within the catnip leaves.  

14.  How Do I Use Catnip With My Cat?

 The simplest way for your cat to enjoy catnip is to buy a ready made, sealed fabric toy containing catnip.  The better quality the catnip, the longer it will last.  With catnip toys, you really do get what you pay for!  When the cat has finished their catnip session, withdraw the toy to check for damage and then store it away, ideally in an airtight container.  Catnip is also sold as loose leaves (like tea) which you can make into your own toys.  It is also available as a liquid spray which is great for attracting kitty to a cat scratcher or under-used toy.

15.  Why Does My Cat Not Respond to Catnip?

 The catnip response is inherited, so if your cat is one that doesn't respond it isn't their fault and it isn't your fault either.  Silver Vine and Valerian are two catnip alternatives that non-catnip responsive cats may love.

16.  What Alternatives are there to Catnip?

If your cat doesn't respond to catnip, they may enjoy a couple of alternatives.

Silver Vine grows in mountainous areas of China and Japan.  It contains actinidine, a powerful attractant for cats.  It is also stronger than catnip.

Valerian is a herb, the root of which is a strong attractant for cats.  It may induce a delirious, playful response like catnip, but may also cause your cat to become calm or sleepy.  It can be put in toys like this Valerian Rustling Cushion.

17.  Can I Grow My Own Catnip?

 Yes.  Nepeta Cataria, the true catnip plant, is widely available in garden centres and is easy to grow.  So much so, that in some parts of the world it is seen as an invasive nuisance plant.  If choosing to plant catnip in your garden, please be aware that you are likely to attract plenty of visiting cats!

18.  Can I Make My Own Catnip Toys?

Yes, catnip toys are not difficult to make.  The key to success is to buy good quality loose catnip like Yeowww 1oz Dried Catnip Leaf.  Making a toy can be as simple as putting some loose catnip in an old sock and sewing up the end.  Refillable, ready made toys are also available, often in fun designs like the KONG Catnip Feather Carrot.

19.  Where Can I Buy the Best Catnip Toys?

 Catnip toys are widely available in pet stores both physical and online.  For a wide selection of premium catnip, valerian and silver vine toys, The Cat Gallery Catnip Toys is a great place to browse.

20.  Can I Post Catnip in the UK and Overseas?

 Catnip can be safely posted within the United Kingdom.  Catnip can be shipped to many countries worldwide, the two main exceptions being Australia and New Zealand where the importation of dried plant products is expressly prohibited.