Catnip 101

There are certainly many things to love about cats: they’re cute, clean, cuddly, and full of charisma. They’re also very entertaining, especially when they’re feeling playful. In fact, kitties can be absolutely hilarious to watch. As you may know, one of the most amusing things about our feline pals is the way they react to catnip. Giving Fluffy catnip can be just as fun for you as it is for her! What is it about this plant that affects cats so much? A Colorado Springs, CO vet discusses catnip below.

Catnip Basics

Catnip is actually part of the mint family. It contains a substance called nepetalactone, which is what causes its curious—and highly entertaining—effects on Fluffy. Kitties have apparently been fond of this plant for some time, since they actually have olfactory receptors that perfectly match up with nepetalactone molecules. In case you’ve ever wondered, catnip does have similar effects on some of Fluffy’s bigger relatives, such as leopards, cougars, and lynxes.

Common Concerns

Catnip isn’t a drug. It is completely safe for your furball. Your kitty can’t overdose on catnip, though she could possibly become desensitized to it through overexposure. The effects of catnip typically wear off in a few minutes. After Fluffy has been exposed to catnip, her brain will need to reset before it will affect her again. This usually takes a few hours. (Chances are, your pet will spend this time napping.)

Growing Catnip

If Fluffy likes catnip, consider growing some yourself. You can grow it in small windowsill pots, or even plant some in your garden. If you plant it outdoors, just be careful not to plant too much: otherwise you may find your yard becoming a favorite hangout for neighborhood kitties!


While comedians may never tire of finding references between catnip and marijuana, the two plants are actually very different. Unlike catnip, marijuana is not safe for pets. In fact, is actually toxic to them. There has been a marked increase in marijuana ingestion in pets since its legalization. If you do partake, keep your marijuana goods well out of paws’ reach. If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested marijuana, treat it like a poisoning emergency and call your vet immediately. Better safe than sorry!

Do you have questions or concerns about your pet’s health or care? Contact us, your Colorado Springs, CO pet hospital, today!