Does Catnip Really Get Your Cat High? Learn All About It

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 09/11/20 •  9 min read
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If you’ve been the pet parent of a cat, then you’re very familiar with catnip. It’s found in many toys and seems to drive some cats wild! Does your kitty enjoy catnip? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll take a look at what catnip is, if it’s safe for cats and more!

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What is Catnip?

Catnip is a member of the mint family, and its scientific name is Nepeta cataria. It originally comes from Europe, Africa and Asia, but now is found all over the world. In fact, in some places, catnip grows like a weed. In some places, they use this catnip as an ornamental plant in gardens. It is great for this purpose as deer don’t eat it, the plant repels insects and doesn’t require much water, making it a great option for areas of frequent drought.

And, as we all know, this plant is highly attracting to cats. The plant’s oil even attracts butterflies! Who would have thought that cats and butterflies have anything in common like catnip! Catnip’s essential oil is found in the leaves, seeds and stem of the plant.

Did You Know Humans Have Used Catnip?

Yes! In ancient times, catnip was used as a medicine. Even in the 1600s, it was used in Europe as a mild sedative by either making a tea, juice from the plant, or by smoking or chewing the catnip. It’s also been used to cure colic in babies, or even used to ease the itchiness of hives or cure a toothache.

Today, however, some people smoke the plant as an herbal cigarette, as it has a calming effect. Some people even use the plant as a garnish or make it into a tea.

In addition, the oil in catnip works as an insect repellent against flies and mosquitoes. Catnip oil an also be used against termites and cockroaches. Who knew?

What Does Catnip Do to Cats?

Remember that essential oil in the plant? The catnip effects on cats are sometimes funny to watch; however, the chemical in the plant’s oil does attract the cat and sets off a “high” that is said to be similar to the high that humans get from LSD or marijuana. Just one or two sniffs can get your fur baby high! This high can last about 10 minutes, after which most cats do go back to being normal.

Some cats seem to go crazy when they smell catnip. They may become crazed when playing with their toys, especially if the toys are stuffed with catnip. Some cats may lick, chew, roll over and more as they experience the high. On the other hand, some cats become more calm and mellow.

When you see your kitty going crazy after sniffing catnip, you’re actually seeing her in a hallucinatory state. Catnip acts like a hallucinogen on kitties. However, the good news is that this plant is not toxic for your fur baby.

You may notice these symptoms in your kitty when she’s high from catnip:

Another funny thing is that not all cats react to catnip. Cats must have a genetic predisposition to reacting to catnip. In addition, they need to be at least 6 months old before they react to the plan. And only about one third of all cats react strongly to this plant.

Can Too Much Catnip Kill a Cat

In moderation, catnip is safe for your cat. It’s even safe if they happen to eat or swallow some of the plant. However, it is possible for your kitty to overdose on catnip. This is not a common issue, but if a cat has too much catnip, she may develop an vomiting, upset stomach and diarrhea. It will not kill your cat.

In order to avoid your precious fur ball having an overdose of catnip, it’s best to only let her enjoy small amounts once in a while.

If your fur baby does develop an overdose, don’t panic. She will be OK. All she needs is to rest and relax, and have access to fresh water at all times. If her condition doesn’t improve, however, then it’s time to call the vet.

Benefits of Catnip for Cats

The main benefit of catnip for cats is that it makes them happier and more relaxed. It also acts as a mild sedative when kitties are stressed. Some people give their cats catnip to calm behavioral issues, or during times of stress, such as visiting the vet.

Does catnip help cats with pain? That’s a good question. While researching this article, we weren’t able to find any definitive information on whether or catnip can help cats with pain. However, we did find that this plant can help cats with nausea and a lack of appetite.

We also learned that some pet parents use catnip as a training aid. For instance, you can use it to keep your feline fur baby from scratching on furniture. Just rub a scratching post with catnip and she’ll be more drawn to that instead of your furniture!

How to Give Your Cat Catnip

If your kitty is one that loves catnip, there are some ways you can give it to her. For kittens over 6 months of age and adult cats that spend all or most of the time indoors, you can even use catnip as an enrichment for their indoors lives.

Where Can I Get Catnip?

You can either grow it at home; you can sometimes find nurseries that offer catnip plants or seeds to buy. The plant is fairly easy to grow and is usually planted in the early spring. It grows into a large plant, and prefers a sunny, sandy spot. Or you can buy dried catnip from the pet shop. It’s even available in a spray form.

It’s also to buy catnip online; you can try these brands to make your fur baby happy:

SmartyKat Organic Catnip: you can buy this dried catnip in a one ounce pouch, a 2 ounce canister or in a 0.5 ounce pouch. This product contains 100% certified organic catnip with no chemicals, pesticides, or fillers. It’s completely safe and pure for your kitty.

Cat Crack: this catnip product is from Canada, and is 100% natural, freshly grown catnip. It contains no preservatives or artificial ingredients. It can be sprinkled on your kitty’s toys, her bed, and more. And don’t you just love the name?

Cat Dope: this product is also from Canada, and is 100% natural, containing no artificial ingredients or preservatives.

Best Catnip Toys for Your Cat

Another option is to buy some new toys that contain catnip for your fur ball! Here are some of the best ones available!

SmartyKat Fish Friends Crinkle Catnip Cat Toys: these toys are specifically designed for your fur baby’s hunting urges. Each fish is “camouflaged” and contains crinkle stuff, feathers, ribbons and more. They’re filled with fresh, highly potent catnip. And they’re just plain cute!

Yeowww! Catnip Toy, Yellow Banana: here’s a 7-inch yellow banana cat toy that’s sure to make your fur baby happy! It’s filled with catnip, and the shape makes it easy for cats to carry and manipulate. The banana is made of durable cotton and contains no fillers, other than 100% organically grown catnip. Even the dyes used to make the yellow color are natural and non-toxic.

Hartz Just for Cats Cat Toy: your fur baby is sure to love these stuffed mice! The package contains 12 mice that are filled with catnip. Each toy is small and easy for your little hunter to carry around, toss, swat and bat! Your fur baby is sure to enjoy these small mice by Hartz!

PetJollies Interactive Catnip Cat Toys Ball: these pretty balls are about 2in in diameter, which is just the right size for most kitties. They come in three colors: blue, pink and orange, and also contain crinkle material that makes a sound most cats love. Each ball also includes a feather and contains catnip. You and your fur baby can have fun playing together with these brightly colored balls!

What to Look for in Catnip Cat Toys

When searching for the right toys for your feline companion, there are some features you’ll need to look for:

1). Small parts: avoid any toys that have small parts that could come off, as these could become a choking hazard for your cat.

2). Durability: look for toys that are durable and withstand your cat’s play methods! These include clawing, chewing and more.

3). Washable: make sure the toys you buy your feline fur baby are also easy to wash. Your cat may put her toys in places that aren’t so clean. For instance, she may choose to leave her toys in the litter box, in her food dish, etc. So, look for toys that can be washed when they get too dirty.

Catnip can be a great way to get your kitty to be more active. The two of you can have fun playing together! The plant can also be a way to help ease your kitty’s anxiety or stress. And it’s completely safe. We hope your kitty has the best time with her new catnip toys, and with you, too!

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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