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There's a reason cats are crazy about this perennial herb.

But what even is catnip?

A leafy green plant, catnip is one of approximately 250 species in the mint family. Nepetalactone, an essential oil found in catnip, can make even the laziest couch potato cat go crazy if the furball inherited its sensitivity. A kitten won't have a response until three to six months of age; until then, this trait isn't evident. About half of cats are not sensitive to this herb, as it is hereditary.


Eating versus smelling

Getting your cat's attention starts with the nose - one whiff of catnip and he's off to the races. Research suggests that the herb targets feline brain receptors that are associated with happiness. Eating it, however, has the opposite effect and makes your cat mellow.

A cat reacts to catnip by rubbing, rolling, flipping, and ultimately zoning out. At the same time, they may growl or meow. You may encounter other cats that become hyperactive or downright aggressive if you approach them.

A typical session lasts about 10 minutes, after which your cat loses interest. He may need up to two hours to "reset" and become susceptible to it again. It's unlikely that cats will overdose on catnip, but they can get sick if they consume too much. Cats know when they've had enough, so trust them.


Sharing is caring with this snack

There's more to catnip than just cats! The plant has been grown in medicinal gardens for centuries because of its sedative properties. As a tea, it has calming properties similar to chamomile. Additionally, concentrated nepetalactone is an effective mosquito repellent. Only downside is that it doesn't last long.


Keeping it fresh is key

For maximum effect, store catnip in an airtight container in the freezer to preserve its potency.


The Best Training & Behaviour Products for Your Cats

Dr Carl carries several top brands, including Feliway, Kong, UrineOff, and Zylkene. We only approve products our veterinarians and animal health professionals would use on their own pets, so you can shop at Dr Carl with confidence. 

For questions about our products, our highly trained customer service staff and veterinarians are available during business hours. You can contact them by email at [email protected] or by phone at 1800 DR CARL (1800 372775).

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