Catnip and your feline friends: What is it? What does it do?

If you’ve gone to a pet store, you’ve probably seen the subject of this blog post, probably in more than one form. If you’re a cat owner, you may know and use the subject of this blog post with your cat: today we’re talking about catnip and why your cat may love the stuff. 

At Raleigh Pawz we know the value of treats for pets.  These little tidbits can entice a pet to behave better, be given in celebratory moments, and can indulge and spoil an animal a little bit. One of those treats, for cats, is catnip.

What Is Catnip?

To state the obvious, this plant is one that many cats go crazy for. It is a member of the mint family. It’s a leafy green plant that affects many cats in an amusing way when they ingest it or even smell it.

Catnip is often available in dried form, usually inside cat toys, but sometimes loose. The other form is a live plant, which is usually attractive to cats that like to chew on house plants.  If you’re trying to keep your cat from chewing on your houseplants, you may want to focus on the dried form.

How Does Catnip Work?

There’s an oil in the stem and leaves that affects some cats. When the nepetalactone goes into the cat’s nose, it binds to protein receptors and, to put it in simple terms, the cats that have the sensitivity can get overly excited from the oil. 

Whether they just smell the catnip or they eat it, the Humane Society of the United States of America says that roughly half of all cats have the sensitivity and react to it. Each cat reacts differently, and it depends on how the cat is exposed to the plant. 

Simply smelling the plant can make cats jump and roll around in a short burst of energy. When they actually eat it, chill mode commenced immediately, without the frenzied activity. It usually lasts about 10 minutes and then the effect tends to lessen. 

It doesn’t affect all cats though. For those that are susceptible, it’s because their parents were. It takes about six months for the sensitivity to show up, if it does at all. Also, if a cat is exposed to catnip frequently, it may become desensitized and eventually show no reaction.

Does Catnip Affect Dogs?

In a multi-pet home, it’s natural to have some concerns over whether one pet’s treats might affect another. 

Dogs don’t have the same potentially energized and crazy reaction to Catnip, but it is usually more of a relaxant that takes the edge off of anxiety. Some veterinary professionals say it can help a dog’s stomach to settle, and can be effective for pets that get motion sickness. 

if you’re looking for someone to help entertain your cat and to ensure that your cat has food, fresh water, and attention while you’re out of town, it’s simple to have one of our pet sitters come in. Just schedule your service to get started.

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