What is Catnip?

The Catnip, also scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, is an aromatic herb most commonly known as basil catlike, catlike, Gataria, marijuana or cannabis mint cats. It is traditional in Europe, although it is a plant that also grows in Asia and North America.

This plant usually generates a characteristic smell that attracts cats, causing them to sniff the grass, rub themselves with it and even want to eat it. This effect caused by the aromatic oil ( Nepetalactone ) present in the plant, makes cats want to be in contact with it again, as it seems to have a pleasant and highly stimulating effect for cats.

What is Catnip?

It is a plant that has the chemical property of “drugging cats” and the cause is found in Nepetalactone, which is a chemical compound that is present in the aromatic oil of catmint. Apparently this is the component that causes the “state of happiness” in felines, as it is related to the activation process of areas of the central nervous system and curiously, it is related to a similar chemical compound, which is found in urine of cats.

Effects of catnip in cats.

The effects that nepeta cataria usually cause in cats are:

  • Playful and funny behaviour.
  • Strange behaviour and alternating movements.
  • They can roll on their body, roll on the grass for several minutes reflecting ecstasy.
  • They can start hunting mice or other animals that they imagine.
  • Licking and purring.
  • They may chew the catnip, inhale it, and coat themselves in it.

After 5 to 15 minutes , the effects of Catnipgradually cease, giving way to tranquillity and normality and it is recommended that between these doses of happiness, at least two hours pass.

Some studies have reflected different theories about the effects that the plant produces. Some compare them to the hallucinogenic effects produced by acids (LSD) in humans from the sensations experienced by cats. Others claim that the effect caused is more similar to that of marijuana or cannabis. The responses of cats to the effect vary, however they usually tend to go from a calm or calm behaviour to a more euphoric reaction of ecstasy. But in a matter of a few minutes, the cat gets used to the effects of catmint and the effects are increasing.

Contraindications and benefits of Catnip

Catnip benefits

  • It will improve their behaviour : Thanks to catnip for cats, your feline will be able to feel ecstatic for a few minutes and after the effect passes, their behaviour will be calmer, thanks to the fact that during the hallucination state they play and wallow, releasing energy and endorphins .
  • Release of stress: Sometimes cats can feel stress when they are within 4 walls of the home, either because the space is very small or because of simple boredom. Contact with the cataria nepeta makes them relax and experience a feeling of well-being.
  • For exercise:  Adding some catnip to the scraper and toys your cat, you will achieve that stimulate while performing their regular exercise, this will be a greater motivation for exercising on your scraper.
  • Natural insect repellent: Having this plant at home, such as nepeta cataria, can also help you repel mosquitoes and cockroaches due to the chemical effects it produces.

Catnip contraindications

Although its effects are not harmful, in some cases  the cat may vomit and have an adverse reaction to catnip. In those cases it is better to restrict the use, since it could be an allergic reaction.

In general, the doses should be controlled and you can give it access from time to time and then take it off. Much better also if you associate it with toys or scratchers, so that it is motivated to play.

How can I give catnip to my cat?

You can supply Catnip to your cat in different ways. The “hallucinogenic” oils of this plant are currently sold in different presentations, you can not only have a plant in your home, but you can also buy its seeds to grow it yourself, also dry leaves, pills, sprays, roll-on packages and drops with Nepetalactone essence. You can buy all this in a specialized store that has products with catnip for cats.

Buy Catnip for cats

Here you can buy the best natural Catnip, in various formats. So the way to supply them with Catnip can be to spread it on toys, scratchers or by adding a small dose to their usual play areas. Some brands even sell their cat products with this component already included.

The effects of Catnip do not occur in all cats.

Not all cats react to the effects of this plant and approximately 40% of cats do not experience any effects. This is so because the reasons why a cat reacts to Nepeta Cataract has to do with its genetics. Cats without this predisposition will not be altered by its effects.

Kittens under 2 months may even reject this plant. Adult cats may be the ones that most strongly react to its effects, as some studies relate a similar component, existing in the urine of cats, and they may be attracted.

Its effects are not harmful at all, although it is recommended that they are not exposed continuously and avoid eating or inhaling it too much. It is better that they enjoy the Catnip, at certain times and if they are related and impregnated with toys or playgrounds, much better.

Other varieties similar to Catnip

There are other lesser-known varieties, but that have similar effects and characteristics:


Nepeta mussinii is a variety of plant with ocher-colored flowers and gray-toned leaves. They are of a medium size, but smaller than catnip plants, with a height of about 50 cm maximum.


It is a variety, called Nepeta cataria citriodora and is characterized by having white flowers with shades of turquoise. Its flowers have a lemon scent, hence its name and can reach a meter high.


The Nepeta camphorata variety has white flowers with purple tones and can grow beyond 50 cm in height. It has a smell similar to that of camphor.


It is one of the best known varieties and its plant is called Nepeta parnassica. Its flowers are pinkish in color and about 50 cm high. This plant can be found easily in pet stores.

How to keep the Catnip at home?

The most important thing is to preserve its essence and natural aromas, so the most recommended is:

Most of the containers in which it is sold are airtight, but if they were not, we recommend that you change it to a zip-lock bag or rubber snap-top bottle. If it is not hermetic, the properties of Catnip will be lost and therefore, its effect will not be the same in cats. Also keep it in a place where it does not get light and, if possible, it is a cool and dry place.

We have seen then that the Nepeta Cataria can be beneficial for your cat (without abusing it) and a little bit of Catnip, it will surely brighten up those fun moments of games.

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