What Is Catnip?

What Is Catnip?

Catnip is a perennial herb which belongs to the mint family. It is scientifically classified as Nepeta Cataria which grows in Europe and in some desert regions of North America where it is thought to have originated. Catnip plant is also called as catmint, catswort, catnep, fieldbalm or catrup. It is described as a gray-green hairy plant with sturdy stems and opposite heart-shaped leaves, and may be able to extend its branching stem up to three feet. Its flower can either be white, pink, lilac, or blue, and is located in several clusters near the tip of the stem. The flowers have a tube-like shape and are spotted with tiny purple dots. It has a fascinating aroma and contains a chemical known as nepelactone which can mesmerize to those who eat it or sniff it. It is known to primarily affect cats, which serves as a reason why it is named as catnip.

How Catnip Affects Cats

Catnip effects can be hallucinogenic to cats. When the cats sniff a catnip plant, they are able to experience a pleasurable sensation. For cats that can’t smell as well, the effects still produce a somewhat lesser, but still exciting experience. This is why catnip is considered to be a cat’s stimulant but it is not a drug. Under the influence of this plant, a cat may become more enthusiastic and playful, but may become aggressive. That is why, if you have many felines at home, you better test  their individual responses before they end up fighting each other. Most of the time, however, when a cat eats or chews catnip, it turns out to be more like a sedative. For kittens, they may not be affected by this plant like older cats. Some of them will start to react when they are two months old and above. Unlike to humans, catnip does not bring any harmful effects to cats. It is an effective kitty treatment instead. Furthermore, these effects mentioned above may last only for 10 minutes but do not usually last longer than half an hour. However, not all cats have the same responses.

Catnip Tea And Its Underlying Effects

Catnip plant has various effects not only in cats, but in humans as well. It is widely used by people due to the fact that it contains curative properties. Pertinently, for people, it is best to consume catnip by drinking catnip tea for the reason that with its sedative properties, it helps one to relax his mind and sleep better at night. It can also be used as a medication for irritable bowel syndrome, stomach cramps and indigestion. Moreover, it is used as a treatment for nervousness, anxiety and migraines when taken regularly and helps treat common health problems, like fever and arthritis. It has been considered as a specific remedy for colds, bronchitis and insomnia.  The isolated oil from catnip, by steam distillation, has been used as insect repellant. On the other hand, it has harmful effects when excessive drinking of it is done. It can cause vomiting, headaches, fatigue and nausea. For pregnant women, it is good to avoid drinking catnip tea, as it stimulates urine contraction. It is also not intended if you are to drive a vehicle, because it can cause drowsiness.

Why Do Cats Like Catnip?

It is an inherited trait for cats to like catnip, and that is why felines do love it. Another reason to be considered is that catnip has a captivating aroma, which causes cats to like it, rub themselves all over it, and start licking the plant. Since catnip is addictive, they cannot resist themselves to crave more. Another reason why cats like catnip is that it gives them extreme pleasurable experiences when they are completely into it. They may possess unusual behaviors like leaping around and becoming more violent towards other animals. The effects may last for 10 minutes, after which the cat is back to normal. These effects are all common to cats but some cats will not be affected by it. Others, as well, will become not so wild, depending on how they react.  Although they differ on how they respond, there is one thing for certain. Cats will really enjoy themselves the moment they get near by this catnip plant.

Catnip Toys

When cats are completely into catnip, they become more wild and frisky. Subsequently, there is a possibility that they may play with small things and could swallow things such as buttons, beads and the like. Though they may be able to digest most of these, there is a great risk that they might end up choking and might develop an intestinal blockage, which could require expensive surgery. For that reason, catnip toys should be made from strong materials and should be well-constructed. In addition to that, such toys are available in many different materials such as cloth, knits, rope, leather and real fur.

How Does Catnip Grow?

Catnip is essential due to its plentiful beneficial effects. That is why, when growing catnip from seed, you should know how to cultivate it. Just like mint, they are aggressive growers and will crowd out other plants if there is an opportunity, thus they need to be separated from your precious flowers. Catnip can grow easily and spread their underground roots, which results in new sprouts all over the area, so it would be better to grow it in a garden or in a large place. But, if you do not like to have your entire garden with catnip, you can still plant it in a container, buried it up to its neck with soil. Catnip does not need much care, and grows well with just a little bit of attention. It does not need fertilizers if the soil is rich. Catnip is considered a perennial plant, since it undergoes period of dormancy and dies during winter, then sprouts again in the spring.

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