In detail

Catnip: plant with euphoric effect


Catnip is the absolute hit for many house tigers. With their euphoric effect, toys with the English addition "Catnip", for example, ensure a real high for sexually mature animals. But why is that and can it be dangerous? Cats get into a frenzy when they enjoy catnip - Image: Shutterstock / Anna Hoychuk

With their sensitive noses, cats notice the finest smells. Some of them react particularly drollly. One example is catnip: If most of the kitties smell a toy, scratching post or transport box like this plant, there is no stopping them.

However, this phenomenon is only observed in sexually mature specimens. The mint leaves cold to young or too old cats. There is a very specific reason for this.

The plant, which originates in southern Europe, Asia and South America, can achieve two effects in sexually mature cats: either the smell of catnip ignites a real high or has the opposite effect on the four-legged friend: calming and relaxing. One of these effects can be observed in about every second cat.

Because younger kittens and older seniors are generally completely unaffected by the plant, it is believed that the smell of catnip is similar to that of sexual attractants that secrete cats during the mating season.

The plant substance that is responsible for the playful behavior of the velvet paws is called nepetalactone. It affects the nervous system without being dangerous for cats. However, it can also reveal one or the other strange behavior if the desire for the fragrant herb simply becomes too great. So don't be surprised if, for example, your cuddly tiger bites its own tail in the heat of the moment.

Catnip in the garden: caring for the plant

Catnip smells pleasantly of lemon and mint and is generally considered an easy-care plant. The perennial has goblet-like flowers in blue-purple, white, pink or yellow and has its flowering period from July to September. Catnip can reach heights of between 60 and 100 centimeters. The plant is hardy, but needs protection from the cold in the tub at low temperatures.

Tip: You should trim catnip once a year. It is best not to prune the plant until spring. Reason: The dried seeds and other parts of the plant also serve to protect against the cold in winter.

If you don't have a garden at home to grow catnip, you can keep the herb in your home or use alternatives from pet stores.

Buy products with catnip

In pet shops you can buy toys that are filled with or treated with catnip. It has the suffix "Catnip", which is the English name for the euphoric herb. You can also get the plant in dried form there or in health food stores - for example filled in pillows.

Sprays with catnip are also common. In this way you can make scratching posts, transport boxes or toys interesting for your four-legged friend.

Catnip can work wonders: Even the most comfortable kitty will be cheerfully happy. A great way, for example, to lose a few pounds from obese animals.

Is catnip addictive?

The good news in advance: catnip is not dangerous and does not make you addicted. However, you shouldn't expose your cat too often to the high that the plant triggers with happiness.

Most researchers assume that around half of all sexually mature cats react genetically to catnip. The effects of catnip can be relaxing and calming as well as euphoric and intoxicating. It is the plant substance nepetalactone, which affects the nervous system of a house tiger, but is neither dangerous nor addictive.

You should keep this in mind when using catnip

You can spoil your velvet paw with catnip in different ways. So you can buy catnip toys for your cat, buy them in dried form from the health food store and use them to rub in the scratching post, for example, or make them available as a plant.

Since some cats can tumble uncoordinated as a result of the "drug rush", you should stay in the room during the spectacle and keep an eye on your cat so that there are no injuries. The effects of catnip usually do not last longer than 30 minutes. Headaches or withdrawal symptoms do not occur.

It's best not to get your cat intoxicated more than once a week. Even if the herb is not dangerous in principle, such an intoxication means stress. Make sure that your cat does not eat the plant in large quantities - this could have a negative impact on health.

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Are there any other negative effects of catnip?

While catnip is not poisonous or harmful to your darling in any other form, you should first test how your fur nose behaves when confronted with the euphoric growth. There are cases where the euphoria turns into aggression after a short time.

Keep a close eye on how the cat reacts to toys with catnip and don't overwhelm them by spreading the scent all over the house. It is better to use only small cans and make the smell something special. Otherwise, as with a perfume, it could happen that the cat has had enough of it.