Catnip can make your beloved cat show exaggerated, sometimes funny and sometimes even dangerous behaviour. Deciding whether catnip or Nepeta cataria, as the plant is scientifically known is good for your feline, is difficult because science does not give a sure answer.
It is known that catnip is used to induce sharper brain activity in the cat. As a result, the cat will start rolling around, especially on rougher surfaces such as the carpet or mat, rub itself more on the plant or continuously play with a toy.
Many owners are worried about their cats’ exposure to catnip.
If consumed in larger doses, the cat can also exhibit wild actions or even become violent. This has made many cat owners to try and be better safe than sorry.
The flowery plant has leaves, which when cut or bruised, release oil which when sniffed by the cat, induces the above said effects. It is like drugs, dope or alcohol for the human body. However, the same plant is used for medicinal purposes for humans and when consumed internally, it has as a sedative effect.
Different cats show different behaviours. Some cats may prefer to stay in the light or dark being exposed to catnip. Some will run around chasing imaginary objects or may start to chase movements. Some remain subdued and idly lie around. Some play around with a toy, especially if it carries the inducing plant, and refuse to let it go even after a long period of time.
The catnip has been traditionally induced to make cats more attentive and also familiarise it with a new object like a toy or a new place. Sometimes, the catnip can calm down a hyperactive cat. However, this momentary change of attitude may not always produce the desired results and it may vary from cat to cat. So, owners have to be cautious.
Catnip repels mosquitoes and other insects. This is an added advantage to humans but on felines, there is no particular effect.
Many alternative medicinal traditions have used catnip to make medicine, thanks to its sedative effect. Some even recommend it to be boiled along with tea as a remedy for an upset stomach. As in other herbs, catnip is also seen to be used to heal cuts, injuries and wounds.
Catnip may be a debatable activity-inducing and brain-stimulating substance for cats. But then, can you be sure your pet will love it? Whether it does or not the herb should be used with moderation.