The power of catnip
All cat lovers will know how catnip can influence these amazing animals. This herb is actually a perennial plant and member of the mint family. Its scientific name is nepeta cateria and it goes by a variety of other names, including catmint. Originally native to Europe, the plant is now found all over the world and is actually a common weed in North America.
Catnip affects about 75% of felines, across breeds from domestic house cats to lions and tigers. These susceptible kitties may exhibit the following symptoms when exposed to this common herb:
- Sneezing and sniffing
- Licking or chewing the herb
- Rubbing up against the plant
- Rolling around repeatedly
- Meowing and purring
As to why this seemingly innocent herb causes such a reaction in cats, the answer to that lies in the compound nepetalactone, which is similar to the chemicals found in the urine of male cats, but which amazingly has an effect on both sexes.
Despite causing such odd behaviour, catnip is very safe and is certainly not addictive. Generally, a cat will exhibit one or more of the above symptoms for about ten minutes after exposure to the herb. After this, the animal will return to normal for about half an hour, becoming immune to the chemicals found within the plant. This is why it is important to limit exposure to the herb to at least once a week, as this will create a more dramatic reaction from your feline friend.
Catnip is available in many forms and can be a great toy to use with your favourite pet. The simplest method of procuring catnip is to grow it fresh in your back garden. The herb grows best in the summer months and works well as both an indoor and outdoor plant. In fact, placing a few pots of catnip within your home may be a great way for you to distract your kitty and prevent it from chewing or scratching the furniture.
As for store-bought varieties, catnip can be purchased in the following forms:
- Toys: Catnip is readily available already inserted into pet toys. Stuffed mice, balls and other trinkets are available that will give your cat the time of their lives.
- Pellets: These can be sprinkled around your cat's play area or used as a replacement for older catnip toys. Just make sure to purchase varieties containing 100% catnip.
- Sprays: Simply apply around your kitty's play area or onto your furniture to modify your cat's behaviour and keep them in certain areas of the home or garden.
Catnip is a great playtime herb that can give you and your cat hours of enjoyment. It is safe, pleasant and very fun if used with the right type of feline.
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