Have you ever wondered why your kitty goes bonkers for catnip? It’s just a simple herb, so why do some cats react to it so strongly?  

What is catnip, anyway? 

Catnip, scientifically known as “Nepeta cataria”, is a member of the mint family. It is used to make everything, from toys to treats, a whole lot more exciting for our four-legged overlords.   

Interestingly, it has not just been used for fun for cats. Catnip has been used in traditional herbal medicine for humans too, treating ailments from stomach cramps to insomnia. 

Why do cats go crazy for catnip? 

It’s all thanks to a little something called nepetalactone. This compound sends cats into a state of blissful euphoria.  When they get a whiff of it, it binds to receptors in their noses and stimulates their sensory neurons in a positive way. Some cats roll around, some purr like a motorboat, and others just chill out and relax. 

The science behind the sniff 

When cats sniff catnip, it’s like a switch flips in their brains, as the sensory neurons are stimulated. The nepetalactone mimics a pheromone that can cause a range of reactions, from a mellow mood to a hyperactive play session. It’s a temporary effect, though, lasting about 10 to 30 minutes, after which they’ll often have a nice catnap. 

Not all cats get excited by catnip 

Have you ever sprinkled catnip for your cat and got… nothing? No rolling, no purring, just a “meh” and a walk away?  

Well, it turns out that the catnip craze does not affect all cats. The ability to appreciate catnip is genetic, and roughly 30 to 50 per cent of cats are immune to its charms. Kittens under three months old and senior cats often show less interest, and some adult cats simply don’t have the gene that triggers the euphoric response.

So, if your cat doesn’t seem to care for catnip, they’re not alone, and they’re perfectly normal! 

Are dogs affected by catnip?  

Catnip might not give dogs the zoomies, but it can have a calming effect, making it a pawsome natural remedy for anxiety or sleeplessness. Just don’t expect them to start purring! 

Where can I buy catnip? 

Petbarn stocks a great selection of catnip-infused toys, dried catnip, and catnip sprays that’ll have your cat leaping for joy. 

Buy catnip from Petbarn online or instore.