Catnip FAQ’s

If you’ve ever seen the reaction of a cat that has just been exposed to catnip, you know that there is something truly mysterious and amazing about this natural substance. But what do we really know about catnip – other than the fact that it seems to hypnotize and make cats act crazy? The following is a list from a Haleyville veterinarian of the most commonly asked questions from curious cat owners.

What is catnip?

Catnip is an aromatic natural herb that is a member of the mint family. It has been harvested and used in various capacities for centuries, including in herbal remedies and even tea.

Is catnip safe for my cat?

Take it from a Haleyville veterinarian – catnip is perfectly safe for your cat. It contains a chemical compound called nepetalactone which induces a harmless physiological reaction in some felines.

How will catnip affect my cat?

The chemical compound found in catnip can cause a number of different reactions. While some cats are mildly affected, others appear to become somewhat intoxicated, while others may have no reaction at all. Some of the most common reactions to catnip include:

  • Meowing
  • Rolling around
  • Rubbing against the area where catnip was placed
  • Getting into silly positions
  • Gazing off in a trans-like state
  • Running around like a kitten
  • Settling into a dreamy, sleepy state

Every cat is different, so the best way to truly learn how catnip will affect your pet is to try it!

How much catnip should I give my cat?

A simple pinch or two of catnip should be enough to elicit a response from your pet. Crush a little between your fingertips and sprinkle it on the floor, your cat’s bed or a favorite toy.

Should I feed catnip to my cat?

A word of caution from your Haleyville veterinarian – you should never put catnip into your cat’s food. This can upset their stomach and disrupt their nutritional balance. Catnip is meant to be used as a tool for play, not as a treat to consume.

Where can I get catnip?

Catnip can be found in most pet stores, and is often used in cat toys as a way to entice and enhance play. Check with your Haleyville veterinarian for suggestions on what type of catnip (regular or organic) and in what form would be best for your pet.

What are the benefits of catnip?

Probably the most common question your Haleyville veterinarian receives is why should I give my cat catnip –what are the benefits?

  • Keep your cat active
  • Relax a cat that is stressed or has anxiety
  • Train your cat and encourage specific behavior (i.e. scratching a scratching post vs. furniture)


If you’re still not sure whether to give your cat catnip, discuss it with your Haleyville veterinarian. Chances are your feline companion will thank you for it!

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