Catnip 101

Everyone’s heard of catnip, but how much do you really know about this herb? Here, your Ellicott City, MD veterinarian tells you about the basics.

What is Catnip?

Catnip is an herb categorized in the same family as the mint plant. Wild catnip plants are leafy green and have white flowers with distinctive purple spots, and these can now be found all over the world. In a pet store, you’ll see catnip ground up into tiny green-brown chunks.

How Does Catnip Work?

The leaves, stem, and seeds of the catnip plant contain a chemical called nepetalactone, and it is this substance that causes a reaction in our feline friends. Nepetalactone is a kind of cat pheromone and elicits an almost sexual response in cats.

Why Doesn’t My Cat Respond to Catnip?

Have you given your cat catnip and experienced no response? It’s okay, your cat is perfectly healthy! You may be surprised to learn that cats need a specific gene, passed down from their parents, to feel any effects from the herb. If your cat doesn’t have it, catnip won’t do much of anything.

Contact your Ellicott City, MD veterinarian’s office for more information on catnip and your cat’s behavior.

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