Ask a Vet: What’s the deal with catnip?

Ask a Vet: What’s the deal with catnip?

At Made by Nacho we’re all about total cat wellness. Basically, what happens outside of the food bowl. We’ve spoken at length about the importance of enrichment, aka channeling your cat’s wild side, that’s why we're so stoked about our latest offering: Made by Nacho’s Catnip & Passion Flower Blend. Catnip is an all natural stress-buster, allowing your cat to let loose and PLAY, while passion flower promotes a sense of calm and acts to soothe your cat’s nerves.

Of course we have lots of questions about catnip, how does it work? How much should I give my cat? What if my dog eats it? So we turned to our resident veterinarian, Dr. Katja Lang, to learn all about catnip.

Made by Nacho: What is catnip, exactly?

Dr. Lang: Catnip is harvested from a plant called Nepeta cataria. It’s a perennial herb of the mint family. You can offer it as a whole plant, but is more commonly “served” using its dried leaves.

MBN: Why do cats like catnip?

DL: They’re attracted to nepetalactone, a key component in the stems and leaves of the catnip plant. When they smell nepetalactone, it stimulates chemicals in their brain related to mood and pleasure.

MBN: What makes the Made by Nacho blend different from other catnip out there?

DL: Made by Nacho Catnip & Passion Flower blend passion flower to help with relaxation so your kitty does not become overly stimulated.

MBN: What should I expect to see when I give my cat catnip?

DL: Cats will usually start rubbing their face and body on the catnip. They may roll over, vocalize and seem euphoric. In some cats, catnip is stimulating, whereas others become more sedate. Some cats may not react at all.

MBN: Why do some cats react to catnip and not others?

DL: According to the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, response to catnip is hereditary.

MBN: How much catnip should I give my cat and how often?

DL: Start with a pinch to see how they react. You can offer once a week for cats who love to party :)

MBN: How do I give my cat catnip?

DL: Catnip can be offered as a whole plant, dried plant material or hidden in a toy. You can use it to train your cat to use a new scratching post or bed.

MBN: Do cats eat catnip?

DL: Cats often sniff and roll around in catnip. It is safe if they nibble and ingest as well.

MBN: Can dogs eat catnip?

DL: The short answer: yes. However, catnip can often have the opposite effect for dogs. So while cats may get stimulated, dogs may be more sedate.