The Dish on Catnip: Is it Safe?

Catnip, the herb Nepeta cateria, is somewhat mysterious to us. By simply sniffing it, cats seem to be overcome with playfulness. It is a member of the mint family, nonaddictive, and completely safe for cats. So what is the secret to its overwhelming influence over felines?

Aptly named, catnip seems to only affect cats. Sniffing or ingesting this herb invigorates them through all of the five sense of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. It has a varying influence from cat to cat with some being more greatly affected than others and a small amount are not affected at all. After contact with the herb cats can display a wide range of behaviors from sneezing, sniffing, licking and chewing, head shaking, chin and cheek rubbing, head-over roll and body rubbing, eating the catnip, mewing and purring. The effects only lasts a few minutes.

Your cat may enjoy occasional contact with catnip. It can be purchased at the store in dry form as well as in many cat toys. Pet owners can even grow their own plant at home allowing your cat to approach it on his own time. No need to worry about your cat overdosing as its affects are due to scent and not consumption.

While catnip is not a necessary part of a cat’s diet, it can provide a fun outlet as well as a bonding experience for you and your pet.

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