At Anasazi Animal Clinic, many of our team members are cat owners, so we know first hand how crazy cats can go for catnip! But what is it exactly? And is catnip safe for cats and kittens? In today’s post, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about catnip and keeping your pets safe while giving them a treat they’ll enjoy. 

What is Catnip?

Catnip, or nepeta cataria, is a plant in the mint family. When cats smell the active ingredient in catnip—nepetalactone—you may notice some unusual behaviors!

How does catnip affect cats?

Your cat or kitten may bite, chew, kick, rub, and roll when they smell catnip—this is to try to release the oils in the leaves. Afterward you may see spinning, jumping, running, climbing, flopping, even growling—but the effects are temporary, usually lasting only a few minutes. Most likely, your cat will soon lose interest and wander away from the catnip toy, only to return later to do it all over again.

Catnip affects every cat differently. Some will act crazier than others; some will experience the effects longer than others; some actually become calmer when they smell catnip. Not all cats will respond to the nepetalactone in catnip—particularly kittens and older cats. Research suggests that about 60% of cats will feel the effects of catnip and react to it. It is believed that a cat’s response to catnip is genetic or inherited.

Is catnip safe for cats?

Yes, catnip is safe for cats to enjoy in moderation. If exposed to too much, however, your cat may experience vomiting or diarrhea, but this side-effect is extremely rare. Although it is nontoxic, if your cat has a particularly strong reaction to catnip, you may want to limit her exposure to it or prevent access to it altogether.

What about kittens?

Catnip is completely safe for kittens, but most cats won’t react to catnip until they are 6 months to one year old.

Is catnip safe for dogs?

Yes! Not only is catnip safe for dogs, it is actually good for them. Catnip contains vitamins C, vitamin E, magnesium and nutrients like flavonoids and tannins. Like cats, some dogs won’t react to catnip, but the ones who are susceptible to it will feel the opposite effects. Catnip acts as a mild sedative and can be very calming to dogs. In fact, it can help with a variety of issues, including anxiety.

Vet in Gilbert, AZ

We’d love to hear stories about how your pets react to catnip! And if you are looking for a vet in Gilbert, bring your cat or dog into Anasazi Animal Clinic. We offer a wide variety of services—preventative care to emergency care and everything in between. We’re passionate about keeping your pets healthy so they can live long and happy lives! 



Image used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/26/2021) by MonikaDesigns from Pixabay