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What is Catnip And What Does It Do? (Explained!)

Catnip is a plant that is part of the mint family. The scientific name for catnip is Nepeta Cataria.

Catnip grows in Europe, Asia, and Africa. It was introduced to North America by European settlers. The leaves and stems of the catnip plant contain an oil called nepetalactone.

What is catnip?

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a perennial herb in the mint family that is known for its intoxicating effects on cats. The active ingredient in catnip, nepetalactone, is a volatile oil that can be found in the leaves and stems of the plant.

When cats smell this oil, they may experience a sense of euphoria and become more playful. Some cats may even roll around or rub their faces in the plant.

If you have a cat, chances are you’ve seen them go crazy for catnip.

What Does It Do to Cats

This compound is similar to the active ingredient in marijuana, and when cats sniff it, they experience a mild high. Some cats will roll around in catnip or chew on it, while others will just rub their face in it. The effects usually last for about 10-15 minutes before wearing off.

This oil is what causes the reaction in cats when they smell it. Some people believe that only 50% of cats are affected by catnip, but studies have shown that up to 70-80% of cats react to it in some way.

When a cat smells catnip, they will usually start to rub their face in it, roll around on the ground, or chew on the leaves. The reaction usually lasts for 5-15 minutes before wearing off.

Some cats may become more aggressive while under the influence of catnip and others may become more relaxed. The effects of catnip are not harmful to cats and typically wear off after about 30 minutes.

Kittens under 8 weeks old generally don’t react to catnip at all.

What Exactly Does Catnip Do to Cats?

Cats love catnip because it gives them a rush of energy and makes them feel playful. When they smell it, they will start to roll around and rub their face in it. Some cats will even eat it!

The active ingredient in catnip is nepetalactone. This chemical acts as a feline attractant and can be found in the leaves, stems, and seeds of the plant.

When cats inhale nepetalactone, it binds to receptors in their nose which triggers a response in their brain. This response is similar to what happens when they smell something that’s appealing to them, like another cat’s urine or certain foods. As a result, cats will start to experience feelings of pleasure and excitement.

They may also become more energetic and playful. In some cases, catnip can cause cats to become aggressive or hyperactive. However, this usually only lasts for a few minutes before they calm down again.

Overall, catnip is harmless and provides your kitty with some much-needed entertainment (especially if you don’t have any other pets for them to play with!).

Just make sure you keep an eye on them while they’re under its influence so they don’t hurt themselves – or you!


Why do cats like catnip?

It’s thought that nepetalactone mimic’s feline pheromones, which explains why both male and female cats are attracted to it. For some felines, the effects of catnip can be quite intoxicating!

Why do cats react this way to catnip?

Scientists believe that nepetalactone binds to receptors in a cat’s nose which then sends signals to their brain. These signals mimic those that are sent when a cat is sexually aroused which explains why some cats become more aggressive while under the influence of catnip. If you’re looking for a way to keep your kitty entertained, try giving them a little bit of fresh or dried catnip every now and then.

Why Do Cats Go Crazy for Catnip?

The active ingredient in catnip that makes cats react is nepetalactone. When cats smell nepetalactone, it binds to receptors in their noses and they experience a “high.” Some people compare the feeling cats get from catnip to how humans feel when they consume alcohol or do other drugs. Interestingly, not all cats react to catnip.


While most cats enjoy the occasional dose of catnip, there are some who are immune to its effects. And if your kitty ingests too much of it, they may experience vomiting or diarrhea.

So it’s best to use it sparingly – just enough to keep your feline friend happy and healthy!

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