Why are cats so fond of catnip?

Catnip contains an oil – hepatolactone – an unsaturated lactone, which in some cats almost acts as a mind-altering agent.

Cat lying outside

Why do cats like catnip?

Catnip, scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, contains an oil called hepatolactone, an unsaturated lactone. This chemical compound can have a mind-altering effect on some cats, eliciting a response that resembles ecstasy. In this blog post, we will delve into why cats are drawn to catnip, its effects on them, and considerations for cat owners.

The Enchanting Appeal of Catnip

When cats inhale the scent of catnip, it can induce a pleasurable sensation akin to euphoria. Even reserved feline personalities can experience a noticeable mood lift when exposed to the minty aroma of catnip. It is important to note that catnip does not cause permanent damage to cats, but excessive exposure can potentially lead to addiction. Catnip is commonly used in its fresh or dried form within cat toys.

The Fleeting Effects

The effects of catnip are transient, typically lasting between five to fifteen minutes. After this period, it may take a few hours before your cat becomes interested in catnip again. This temporary nature of the effects ensures that catnip remains an exciting and stimulating experience for cats.

Universal Cat Reaction

It is fascinating to observe that all feline species, including domestic cats and even larger ones like lions, share a similar reaction to catnip. However, it is important to note that not all individual cats exhibit a response. Approximately 50 percent of domestic cats, irrespective of their gender or neutered status, display a positive reaction to the scents present in catnip.

Considering Your Cat’s Needs

While catnip can be a delightful experience for most cats, it’s essential to be mindful of your cat’s individual sensitivities. Some cats may find the scent overwhelming or stressful, making it challenging for them to handle. If your cat falls into the sensitive or stressed category, alternatives like Feliway or Zylkene may be worth considering. Feliway is particularly useful for cats experiencing insecurity within their territory, while Zylkene can help alleviate agitation in easily stressed cats.