Catnip Nirvana: Help your Kitty Rediscover his “Inner Cat”

Nepeta Cataria

Nepeta Cataria (Pinterest)

Catnip Nirvana — Help your kitty rediscover his Inner Cat by catnip. Cats go crazy over it and they look ecstatic with it. We will look into why cats go crazy over it and what the effect has on cats and human as well!

What is Catnip?

Nepeta Cataria aka catnip is the common name for a perennial herb of the mint family which is also called as catmint.

While basically considered the same plant that shares many of the same characteristics, there are differences between the two species. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) has less ornamental value in the garden than its catmint (Nepeta mussinii) counterpart.

Nepeta faassenii aka catmint

Nepeta faassenii (Catmint) (Sunset)

It is native to North Africa and the Mediterranean, imported to the United States and other countries.

The catnip plant is now a widespread weed in North America. There are more than 250 species of them around the world today. It contains volatile oils, sterols, acids, and tannins.

It grows two to three feet tall and has sturdy stems with heart-shaped leaves. The tips of the plant’s stems will sprout blue, pink or purple flowers.

How it Works?

Catnip Nepetalactone Molecular Chemical Formula

Catnip Nepetalactone Molecular Chemical Formula (Zazzle)

The secret to catnip is nepetalactone, a volatile oil store in tiny bulbs on the leaves, stems, and seedpods of the plant. When nepetalactone enters a cat’s nasal tissue, it binds to olfactory receptors at the olfactory epithelium. Sensory neurons are stimulated and cause neurons in the olfactory bulb to send signals to the brain. The prevailing theory is that nepetalactone mimics a cat pheromone.

How Cats React?

abyssinian johnny licking his paw

It is that nepetalactone which triggers the reaction in cats. When a cat sniffs it, it stimulates cat’s nasal tissue, and the result is a kind of chemical reaction that gives the cat a sense of euphoria or overwhelming happiness.

The effect has been compared to that of a hallucinogenic drug on humans.

Sniffing, licking, head shaking, rolling around, flipping over, head and cheek rubbing… Generally, cats become hyperactive.

However, each individual cat would have a different reaction to it, some would become extremely playful, while some would drool or get very vocal…

Enjoy watching your kittens how to react to it and letting their inner cat out. You’ll have as much as fun your cat has!

The euphoric state produced by them is considered to be non-addictive and completely safe to cats, so you don’t have to worry about kitty getting hooked.

But too much of a good thing can harm in a way as your cat might vomit or have diarrhea. When you see your cat have enough of it, wait for another week or so for the next catnip session.

And this plant has been shown to affect more than just indoor cats. Cat’s brothers’ lions, tigers and leopards[1], react similarly to house cats when they are exposed to catnip!

Not Every Cat Go Crazy?

Australian Mist

Australian Mist (

Interestingly enough, not every cat goes crazy over catnip. Speaking of a specific breed, most Australian cats aren’t affected by them.

However, it’s considered that 70–80 % of cat would have reaction basically. The sensitivity of catnip is hereditary, some say half of the kitty might not react to them.

So that your kitty might fall in the category of other 20–30 % who don’t react. Also, kittens under 6 months don’t react to it, and older cats tend to have lesser reaction to the plant.

History of Use on Human

Catnip tea in a tea cup with some leaves

Catnip Tea (Herbal Teas Online)

Native Americans once used catnip for the uncontrollable cries of infant colic. It also serves as a mild sedative in some herbal teas. In alternative medicine circles, it is commonly recommended by herbalists to lessen migraine headaches and to relieve cramps, gas, indigestion, and insomnia. Generally, it has been used for its mild sedative properties which have similar properties to chamomile. Also it acts as a very potent mosquito repellent 10 times more effective than DEET[2].

Helpful tip: When using dried catnip, rub it between your hands before giving it to your cat to release the volatile oil. It’d increase your cat’s happiness!


Catmint Herb: How To Grow Catmint (gardening KNOW HOW)
 Crazy For Catnip (The Humane Society of the United States)

[2]Catnip Repels Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET (ScienceDaily)

Related Article

[1]Small Tigers?: Cats Share 95.6 % of their DNA with Tigers

Originally published at Johnny Times.