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Common Conditions - Articles of Interest - Cats Go Crazy For Catnip

Cats Go Crazy For Catnip

Catnip also known as Catmint is a herb related to the mint family and has an unusual phenomenon among cats, it has the ability to cause an amazing reaction that can alter your cat's behaviour. Only about 50-70% of cats are affected by this herb and when exposed to Catnip some cats will present with various behaviours some of which may resemble a drunken appearance, vocalisation, rolling around, elevated energy levels, increased affection and playfulness.

Catnip is great to encourage and stimulate activity in cats, especially lazy cats and indoor cats. Catnip can be grown in the garden or purchased as a dry herb which can be sprinkled onto food, incorporated into toys or put onto a scratching post.

If you are lucky enough to have a cat that does react favourably to Catnip the reaction may only last a few minutes, then the cat acclimates to it and it can take an hour or two away from the catnip to ‘reset' and stimulate the cat again.

How does catnip work?

Unfortunately no one knows exactly what happens in the cat's brain when they come into contact with catnip. One thing that is known is that Catnip contains a chemical called nepetalactone and it is this that is believed to be responsible for triggering the intense reaction and interest. Apparently, it somehow kicks off a stereotypical pattern in cats that are sensitive to the chemical that cats just can't seem to get enough of.

Growing Catnip

Catnip is surprisingly very easy to grow and will thrive indoors or outdoors. Catnip seeds can be purchased from most garden stores, pet stores or vet clinics.

Catnip does not need much care, as it can flourish well on its own. Give them plenty of space away from other plants in your garden as they tend to crowd other plants.

Step 1:

Mix two parts potting soil with one part coarse sand or vermiculite into a small pot. Sow the seeds on the top of the slightly moistened soil mixture and gently press them into the soil. Cover your pot with plastic wrap to keep the moisture in. Place your pot in a warm, bright part of the house. However, do not place it in direct sunlight.

Step 2:

In about 7 to 10 days you should see some sprouts come through the soil. Once the sprouts get their first set of leaves on them, take the plastic cover off the pot and move it into a sunny window or area. The air inside your home will typically be dryer than the outside air so check the moisture of the soil daily. Keep the soil moist, but not wet.

Step 3:

As the plants grow to about one foot, start harvesting the catnip. You don't have to dry the catnip for your pet to enjoy it. Cats also like to eat the leaves off the fresh plants.

If you plant catnip in the spring, it should flower by early summer. While the plant is in bloom, cat owners may wish to harvest the flower, top leaves and stems, these can then be placed into a toy or stuffed into a small pillow case. According to some gardeners, three good harvests of catnip can be produced in one year.


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