What does catnip do to cats?

Have you ever wondered, “What does catnip do to cats?” Well, you’re not alone.

If you are a cat owner, you might have come across catnip and its fascinating effects on felines.

Catnip is a well-known plant that has been used to treat various ailments in humans for centuries.

But did you know that it has a similar effect on cats?

Catnip has a distinct, potent scent that seems to have a fascinating effect on our feline friends.

Many cat owners may have noticed their cats becoming more playful and hyperactive when exposed to this plant.

In this article, we will explore what catnip is, how it works on cats and its effects on their behavior.

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What is Catnip?

Catnip, also known as Nepeta cataria, is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family.

It is native to Europe, but it can now be found worldwide.

The plant produces small, lavender-colored flowers and has green, serrated leaves.

Catnip contains a chemical compound called nepetalactone, which is what causes its unique effect on cats.

This compound is found in the leaves, stems, and seeds of the plant.

How does Catnip Work on Cats?

When cats smell or eat catnip, nepetalactone binds to their olfactory receptors, which are responsible for detecting scents.

The compound then stimulates the sensory neurons, which send signals to the brain’s hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls various functions such as appetite and sexual behavior.

The hypothalamus, in turn, triggers a response in the amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates emotions and behavior.

This results in the release of several neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, which are associated with pleasure and happiness.

What are the Effects of Catnip on Cats?

Not all cats respond to catnip in the same way. Some cats may be indifferent to it, while others may become highly stimulated.

Here are some of the most common effects of catnip on cats:

Increased Playfulness

Many cat owners have observed their cats becoming more playful and active when exposed to catnip.

This is because the nepetalactone in catnip triggers a response in the amygdala, which can lead to increased excitement and playfulness.


On the other hand, some cats may become more relaxed and calm when exposed to catnip.

This is because the compound can also have a sedative effect on cats.

Increased Appetite

Some cats may also experience an increased appetite after exposure to catnip.

This is because the neurotransmitters released in the brain can also stimulate hunger.


In rare cases, some cats may become aggressive after being exposed to catnip.

This is because the excitement and stimulation can lead to a release of adrenaline, which can result in aggressive behavior.

Short Duration

The effects of catnip are usually short-lived, lasting between 5-15 minutes.

After this time, the cat will typically lose interest and become indifferent to the plant’s effects.

Is Catnip Safe for Cats?

Catnip is generally considered safe for cats.

The plant is non-addictive, and the effects are short-lived, so there is no risk of long-term harm to the cat.

However, some cats may be allergic to catnip, so it’s essential to monitor your cat’s reaction when exposing them to the plant for the first time.

What does catnip do to cats? Our conclusion

Catnip is a fascinating plant that has a unique effect on cats.

Its active ingredient, nepetalactone, can trigger a range of responses in cats, from increased playfulness to relaxation and increased appetite.

While the effects of catnip are short-lived and generally considered safe, it’s always important to monitor your cat’s reaction when introducing them to a new substance.

With that said, if you’re looking to give your furry friend a fun and stimulating experience, catnip is a great option.

Don’t miss our latest cats advice

At Juguetes inteligentes para gatos, we understand the importance of keeping your feline friend happy and healthy.

That’s why we’re passionate about providing the best advice and products to help you take care of your adorable cat.

Our team of experts is constantly working to create innovative and high-quality toys and accessories that will keep your cat entertained and engaged, while also ensuring their safety and well-being.

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