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Is catnip safe for cats?

Have you ever seen your cat roll over, become lazy, or hyperactive when he or she smells catnip? Perhaps your cat has even become aggressive after sniffing or ingesting it. Such effects can make you wonder if catnip is really safe for your cat.

What exactly is catnip?

Catnip, catwort, and catmint are all members of the mint family. They produce an essential oil called nepetalactone, which stimulates euphoria when cats encounter it. Nepetalactone is also what makes brewed catnip leaves into a soothing tea for humans.

It’s very safe, with only a tummy ache as a possible negative side effect if your cat eats too much. If you share homegrown catnip with your cat, be sure to remove any stems that could cause blockages or puncture your cat’s GI tract.

Why do cats act intoxicated when they smell catnip?

Once a cat gets a whiff of catnip, some pet owners describe the effects as the cat appearing to be “drunk” or “high.” Yet, these kitties are simply very pleased to have found this special treat. The “catnip effect” wears off in about 10 minutes, and your kitty won’t react to catnip again for about two hours, similar to olfactory fatigue in humans.

Do you have catnip on hand for your cat? Be sure to show your cat sitter where it is! Our sitters love to pamper your pets with as many treats and toys as you do. Drop us a line today!


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts. Photo by StockSnap on pixabay.
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