Cats meowed in happiness the day humans discovered catnip. This herb belongs to the mint family and is laced with nepetalactone. This chemical triggers the “high” that so many owners love to see in their pets. After all, the cats do seem extraordinarily happy.
Nepetalactone is a stimulant.
Some experts have likened its potency to LSD or at least, marijuana. On average, only half of all cats react to the chemical and the magical experience lasts roughly ten minutes. Interestingly, researchers believe that this sensitivity is passed on from parents to kittens and, for some mysterious reason, doesn’t activate until the cat is several months old. Once a sensitive kitten reaches the right age, one whiff of nepetalactone can stimulate the pleasure centers inside its brain.
What keeps them safe during a zippy moment is the fact that their minds are focused.
Catnip muddles this clear thinking and could stimulate cats to bounce around the room like a rubber ball, without the benefit of clear cognition. Affected cats might miscalculate a jump from a high space or scramble out a window and face the outside world in a happy but dangerous daze. For these reasons, the herb is best given under supervision in a safe space until the effects wear off.
The good news is that catnip is generally thought to be safe.
However, the herb has a dark side that owners need to be aware of. Sometimes, when cats chew on the plant they might ingest little bits. In small quantities or with healthy cats, the result is the opposite of what one would expect of catnip. The herb acts as a sedative. Instead of going crazy, your pet might prefer a nap on your favorite cushion.
In cases where too much is consumed, or with cats that have digestive problems, eating catnip could result in bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, which normally sorts itself out. That being said, a cat that reacts with these symptoms should not be given catnip again.
Some felines like catnip a little too much.
Although rare, a cat might become so possessive of its catnip toy or leaves that the animal starts to hiss and growl. The best thing is to remove yourself from the room after making sure your cat is in a safe space for at least ten to fifteen minutes. After that time, check to see whether the effects had worn off. This is another instance where a sensitive cat should not be introduced to catnip again.
If you’re planning on giving catnip for the first time and you have more than one cat, it’s best to test the herb separately on each pet. This is a safety precaution in case one gets aggressive or too hyperactive while the other has no reaction at all. Or worse, both turn angry over their fuzzy catnip toys. One should never leave two catnip-rage cats alone together. Rather prevent such a scenario by spoiling one pet at a time.
There have been reports of allergic reactions resulting in unconsciousness or seizures.
That being said, catnip allergies are extremely rare. Should your cats love this minty wonder, then a final tip would be to use it in moderation. When given too often, cats turn immune. To prevent this, catnip is best given once a month or at least every three weeks.