Cats go crazy for catnip, but why? Read on to discover how catnip makes your cat feel and whether there are any side effects to be aware of.

Why do cats like catnip so much? They go crazy for it, but what does catnip actually do to cats that so quickly brings out their fun-loving side?

If you’re new to the world of catnip, you can check out our article on [what catnip is] for the full intro. Or carry on reading to find out more specifically what catnip does to cats, what the effects of catnip are, and even if humans can eat catnip.

Why do cats like catnip so much?

If you’re scratching your head wondering why cats go so crazy for this seemingly ordinary herb, we don’t blame you. It all sounds a bit wild, but catnip has been proven to lull many cats into a happy state that they, understandably, seem to love. The herb - which comes from the mint family - contains an essential oil that has a mood boosting effect on cats when they eat it, sniff it or rub themselves against it.

It’s not fully understood, but scientists believe that cats’ brains interpret the essential oil in catnip as cat pheromones, which triggers a happy response. Depending on the individual cat and the amount of catnip they are exposed to, cats on catnip will either be very excited or much calmer. You could even describe their behaviour as quite ‘kitten-like’ - adorable, huh?

How does catnip make my cat feel?

When a cat’s on catnip, they can feel incredibly energised or relaxed. Some cats instantly enter “zoomies” mode, while others become very mellow. Either way, they’re in a pretty happy place!

You’ll usually spot them sniffing, chewing, licking, shaking their head and rubbing themselves against things. Some will run around, make sounds and want to play, while the more laid-back characters will do a lot of stretching and possibly even drooling - don’t worry, they’re quite content in their drooly, docile state!

In rare cases, cats can react to catnip with mild aggression, such as low growling or swatting. If your cat does show this sort of behaviour on catnip, avoid giving it to them again. Also, if you have more than one cat, it’s best to only allow one to have catnip at a time to avoid potential sibling squabbles.

How long does catnip last?

If you’re wondering how long catnip lasts, the effects of catnip usually wear off within half an hour, but your furry friend is likely to be in a much calmer mood afterwards too. After the effects have worn off, it will take another couple of hours before your cat can be affected by catnip again.

Does catnip work for all cats?

It’s thought that only around 60% of cats will feel the effects of catnip. So if your feline’s behaviour stays the same after exposure to it, they’re probably immune to it.

Responses can be different in cats that do respond to it. While some become hyperactive, others become quite drowsy and simply want to roll around on their back or take a nap - and who blames them?

How to use catnip

You can use catnip fresh, dried, as a spray or in treats. Cat owners will often give their furry pal catnip as a treat - simply because they love it. It can also be used to encourage play and exercise, for training, or to help them relax if they’re feeling anxious.

You can learn more about how to use catnip safely in different ways in our article about [when to give your cat catnip].

Are there any side effects of catnip?

Cats will generally only experience side effects of catnip if they’ve eaten too much in one go, but they’re pretty good at knowing when they’ve had enough. Even so, it’s best to know how to use catnip safely, because if they do manage to overdose on catnip, they could experience vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness or trouble walking. To avoid this, make sure you only ever let them have a small amount in one go.

Can humans eat catnip?

A lot of people wonder if humans can eat catnip. The answer is yes, but if you’re hoping for the same euphoric effect it has on cats, you’ll be disappointed to hear it doesn’t impact humans in the same way. This said, it is perfectly safe for humans to eat catnip in moderation. Catnip tea is a popular way to enjoy it and it’s thought to be a good decongestant and digestive aid. Side effects of catnip are the same for humans as cats, so don’t go overboard.

If you fancy treating your furry friend to a little bit of catnip from time to time, check out our tasty catnip treats, which you can find among our full selection of [DREAMIES™ cat treats]. These delicious bite-size snacks could be the perfect way to introduce your feline to catnip.