By Megan Trombley
Who wants to know about catnip? I do, that's why I am writing this. What does it do, why do some cats not have a reaction to it, and why do some roll in it and some eat it? Let's find out!
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb from the Mint family. Nepetalactone is the oil found in the leaves and stem that stimulates the "high" in cats with effects like that of LSD or Marijuana, and lasts roughly 10 minutes. When they eat it it is like a sedative, when smelled it makes them go hyperactive. (Betty and Veronica ate some yesterday and sat on the cat trees staring at people). After the cat has reacted to catnip, it takes roughly 2 hours for it to be able to effect them again. It won't effect cats until they are between 3 and 6 months, and the response is heredity as 60-80% of cats have a reaction.
There are similar plants that can effect cats in similar ways. Silver Vine (Actinidia polygama) is a climbing plant found in the mountainous regions of China and Japan that causes similar euphoric responses as catnip. It contains 2 cat attractants: actinidine and dihydroactinidiolide, whereas Catnip only has 1, thus Silver Vine has been shown to have more significant and longer effects, lasting 10-30 minutes. If your cat does not react to catnip, they may react to Silver Vine; in one study 60% of cats reacted to Catnip while 80% reacted to Silver Vine.
Is Catnip just used as a fun time for you and your cat? No! Its calming effects are great to set nervous cats at ease, and is recommended for shelter cats to make them feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar setting. When cats are stressed they tend to bloat like us (and get gas too), catnip can loosen muscles treating upset stomachs and bloating. Don't give them too much though, if too much is given it can have the opposite effect resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. 1/4 teaspoon or so should do with both Catnip and Silver Vine. Both are non-toxic and non-addictive, so your kitty will be safe. They can be used as attractants to lure your cat away from scratching furniture by sprinkling some on cat scratchers, corrugated cardboard, and other desirable places. Catnip sprays are also available to avoid mess, although dried and fresh Silver Vine and Catnip are more effective. Both are fantastic enrichment ideas for your mini lion. Catnip has topical benefits as well, making it into a tea bath for your kitty can help with any inflammation and sooth skin conditions. Catnip and Silver Vine have also served humans for many years helping with headaches, insomnia, and preventative health.
Want to get your hands on some top notch Catnip and Silver Vine? We have it in our store! We carry Yeowww! Catnip products, a customer favorite. Yeowww! toys are made in the USA using high quality cotton twill and organic catnip. They are hand stuffed and sewn so each toy gets the love and attention it deserves. Their company is also Minnesota based. We just brought in a new company, From the Field, that has both Catnip and Silver Vine products. All of their products are bio-degradable and are made out of natural materials like wood, cork, and hemp. Stop by to check them out!