What is it about Catnip?
Catnip, also called catmint, is a perennial herb with a square hairy stalk with green/grey coloured heart shaped leaves and white or purple flowers.
It is generally prescribed for environmental enrichment, and is favored by indoor and outdoor cats alike. Cats have an acute sense of smell, being in possession of approximately 200 million olfactory receptors compared to humans with just 5 million.
The active ingredient nepetalactone is the essential oil that causes a 'kitty buzz' in around 60% of cats, encouraging them to play, smell or ingest the catnip. The reaction to catnip is inherited, so even though all domestic cat's sense of smell is about fourteen times as strong as a human's, their reaction to catnip will either be joy and amazement or nonchalance.
The cat will roll over the plant, kick at it, rub against it, chew it to bruise the leaves thereby releasing more nepetalactone, and generally go wild for the herb for several minutes. The cat will acclimate to it and lose interest, walking away for a 'reset' period, possibly to return a couple hours later to take pleasure in the same response again.
Very young kittens and older cats seem less inclined to have a reaction to catnip, though large cats like tigers can be sensitive to it!
You can give catnip to your cat by growing it in a pot and keeping it by a window where they will nibble it when they see fit. Or another fantastic way to integrate catnip into your kitties life is to provide toys with catnip in them.
Speak to your local Just For Pet independent retailer for ideas of using catnip.