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Does Your Cat React Oddly to Cat Nip?

Catnip isn’t just a cat thing. Actually catnip is a nickname for a plant that comes from the mint family. For a cat, catnip is like one too many martinis. The reaction may be wild and crazy or totally oblivious in that classic “who cares” manner that cats do so well.

Inside catnip is a chemical element called “nepetalactone,” which seems to prompt amazing reactions that are different for each cat. While you can’t smell it, catnip has a unique scent to a feline.

The typical cat pauses to sniff this unusual substance and maybe give it a small lick. Then the cat returns to chew on the catnip leaves. Some cats love to roll around in the catnip and get it all over their fur.

Shortly after ingesting catnip, a cat may leap, roll, wiggle, purr and seem to freak out. The cat may become aggressive toward another pet when under the influence of catnip. Another cat may nibble the catnip, grin broadly and quietly savor the experience. Fortunately this catnip “trip” lasts just a matter of minutes.

Although coming down from the catnip may take a few hours before your cat responds normally. Older cats seem less vulnerable or perhaps less interested in the catnip experience. Very young kittens also are less interested in catnip.

Catnip can be purchased in a pet store in dried leaf form or as an essential oil. Just a small drop of the oil is all that’s needed to get a reaction. You can also purchase catnip-scented toys. The potency of catnip declines over time.

So toss out the old toys regularly and get fresh catnip toys so your cat gets the same enjoyment out of it. While catnip is related to other common plants like basil, spearmint and oregano, those plants don’t have the same effect on cats.

Catnip is an aphrodisiac for some cats – causing them to become very amorous with another cat. So you have to wonder, can a cat become addicted to catnip? While each catnip nibble is a delight for your cat, he’s not going to trash the house or sell your car to get more.

Cats won’t become addicted to catnip, but it is a treat you can provide for your feline friend a few times a week. If you have more than one cat, give them each their own little pile of catnip so that they don’t have to compete for the pleasure against one another.

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