Why do cats love catnip?
Have you ever found your cat lying in your mint patch in the back garden? There’s a reason for that. Catnip is in the mint family, and numerous studies have shown that catnip (Nepeta cataria) has a strong effect on cats. When they smell catnip, approximately 70-80% of cats will respond with some combination of sniffing, head shaking, chin and cheek rubbing, body rolling, purring, and drooling. In some cases, catnip may even cause your cat to have a wild “dance” or run around the room. But why does catnip have such a powerful effect on our feline friends?
The active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone, which is a chemical similar to those found in valerian root (another plant that has a calming effect on cats). When cats smell nepetalactone, it binds to receptors in their noses and triggers a response in their brains. For most cats, this results in a feeling of euphoria or happiness. In fact, catnip has been shown to be more potent than Valium in reducing stress and anxiety in cats! Some experts believe that catnip may also help to boost cognitive function in cats by stimulating their brains.
Catnip Makes Your Cat Happy
So, there you have it: catnip makes your cat happy because it’s essentially like giving them a natural “high.” If you want to see your cat go crazy, just give them a little catnip and watch the fun begin!
Explaining all these details to your cat will have no effect whatsoever on either their behavior or the results they feel from their appropriate use of your gift of fresh catnip. In fact, they may even fall asleep while you’re deep in discussion. But, if you don’t talk to your cat about catnip, who will?
If you have any questions about catnip or a feline concern, call us. We are the only veterinary cat clinic in Kamloops offering a full list of services to keep your feline friend healthy. We provide consultations, wellness exams, orthopedic surgery, soft tissue surgery, dental care, diagnostics, and spaying and neutering services for cats. We love cats, and we know you do too!