Does your cat go crazy over catnip?
Or maybe you’ve simply been wondering what effects catnip will have on your cat.
Either way, you need to pick the right kind of catnip to give to your cat.
And much like with cat food, certain brands of catnip can contain some nasty fillers and chemicals you don’t want to feed your cat.
There are so many scary ingredients added to food these days it just makes sense to buy organic.
Hopefully you buy organic food for yourself, so shouldn’t you buy organic for your cat too?
Yes, organic catnip is definitely the way to go!
But you still probably have a lot of questions about catnip itself, it’s safety, what it can do for your cat, and how and why catnip can do this.
Plus, you’re likely wondering why it’s so important to buy organic catnip. And also, what the best catnip for cats is, and where to get catnip.
Well, keep reading because by the end of this article all your catnip questions, and a lot more, will be answered!
Our Top Picks For The Best Catnip
What Exactly Is Catnip?
Nepeta cataria – otherwise known as catnip (and sometimes also referred to as catmint or catswort) is a medium-sized perennial herb which is actually a member of the mint family.
This herb is also a cousin to basil and oregano. And it gives off a pleasant fragrance that is somewhat minty with a hint of lemon.
There is a chemical compound found in the leaves and stems of the catnip plant called nepetalactone. This is what tends to attract and alter the behavior of many cats.
Nepeta cataria is native to Europe, Central Asia, and parts of China. But is now commonly found almost everywhere in the world.
A catnip plant looks similar to a mint plant, with its small, brown and greyish-green rippled leaves. It blooms in the warmer months into beautiful pinky purple and white flowers.
The effects of catnip in felines was first seen way back in the 1700s!
How Does Catnip Work?
When cats sniff catnip, the nepetalactone oil in the leaves binds to protein receptors in the cat’s nasal tissues. This then causes the sensory neurons to become highly stimulated.
These cells then invoke a response in the olfactory bulb which then shoots over to wake up the amygdala and the hypothalamus.
The amygdala controls the movement of scent from the olfactory bulb cells to areas of the brain to invoke behavior responses. The hypothalamus is considered the master gland of the brain which regulates all responses – including emotions and hunger.
Interestingly, cats have a specialized scent organ located on the roof of their mouth. These scent organs are called vomeronasal – or Jacobson’s organs – and are connected to the cat’s mouth through tiny canals behind their teeth.
What Does Catnip Do To Cats?
When catnip is sniffed many cats experience a sort of “high”.
Yes, catnip is often compared to mind altering drugs and is often compared to getting your cat “stoned”.
You may notice when cats are sniffing catnip their mouth may open very wide or they may grind down and move their mouth around. This is because they are trying to work their Jacobson’s organs (see above) to open up and receive even more of the scent.
Catnip can cause cats to behave quite erratically. They will often roll around, dash about the room, drool, yowl, chase things, shake their heads around, and typically just “go crazy”.
Cats will likely sniff, kick, or bite any toy containing catnip. And you will often see your cat rubbing their chin – where their scent glands are – and head on the floor, walls, toys, and on you!
However, when a cat eats catnip the result is totally the opposite! Catnip works as a sedative when eaten, so your cat may all of a sudden relax or at least act a lot calmer than usual.
Some vets actually prescribe catnip to be used to calm hyperactive cats.
It can also be used to help cats relax on long journeys or during moves. However, you should definitely try out catnip before you use it for these reasons. The last thing you want is for it to have the opposite, or no, effect on your cat when you’re in the middle of a journey.
Cats look forward to the feeling they get from catnip so much, that often even if you simply shake the bag it will cause them to get very excited in anticipation.
Does Catnip Work On All Cats?
Approximately 75% of cats are affected in some way by eating or sniffing catnip.
Some cats may only be affected mildly – rolling a bit more than usual and acting a little strange. While other cats truly seem to “go bonkers”.
The sensitivity to catnip seems to be an inherited trait. So, if you have cats who are siblings, or a Mom and her babies you will likely notice similar effects throughout all the cats.
However, kittens aren’t typically affected by catnip. It seems to only be cats over 4-6 months of age who experience the effects of catnip.
And it’s not uncommon for senior cats who once enjoyed catnip to become desensitized to the effects of catnip as they get older.
And yes, catnip does work on lions, leopards, and tigers – but please don’t try to put this to the test yourself!
How Long Do The Effects Of Catnip Last?
Once your cat smells catnip the effects come on pretty quickly.
These erratic effects typically then last for about 10 minutes. But, although they won’t be going as crazy after this time, you may notice that your cat may not completely go back to normal for up to 2 hours.
The sedative effects from eating catnip will usually last a few hours or so.
And after your cat is back to “normal” they are typically immune to any effects of catnip for a few hours – and maybe even the rest of the day.
Why Else Would I Want To Use Catnip?
If your cat is clawing your furniture and you want to redirect their attention to their scratch post you can use catnip to do this.
Sprinkle a bit on the surface of where you want them to scratch – and they should.
Same goes with any new toys you want to encourage them to play with. Or any new bed you want them to sleep in.
Catnip can also be used as a reward for scratching the right area or finding their bed – and given after they show good behavior.
If your cat has to start on some new food they’re not liking – try sprinkling some catnip on it to add some appeal.
And amazingly, although cats may love it, catnip is a pest repellent!
That’s right, repel cockroaches, mosquitos, and flies using catnip.
Sprinkle some around any openings where you may have pests enter your home. This should be enough to persuade pests to go elsewhere.
If you grow catnip in your garden, you may find fewer insects hang out there too.
And you may have heard that catnip can even be used by humans.
Yes, it’s true, but don’t expect humans to start going crazy and start racing around or rolling on the floor!
Humans don’t get any benefits of catnip by simply sniffing it.
As with cats, humans often find catnip to offer relaxation benefits if it’s ingested. It can be prepared in a tea or capsule to help with digestive discomfort or insomnia.
But heads up – most humans dislike the taste of catnip, so other herbal remedies are probably a better choice.
But if you do decide to try it on yourself, please do check with your health care professional first!
Is Catnip Safe For My Cat?
As long as you are buying organic catnip, which is grown without chemicals, pesticides and any unhealthy fillers, catnip is totally safe for your cat!
Although cats may seem “high” after sniffing catnip there is no way they can overdose. And most cats will actually know when they’ve had enough and cease playing for a while.
There’s only one thing to remember when feeding catnip to your cat.
Allowing your cat to eat too much catnip at one time can cause her some stomach discomfort – but these effects will go away in a day or so.
So, it’s best to monitor your cat’s catnip intake – and giving it to them once a day or so is usually more than enough. For most cats once a week is a perfect dose.
And make sure you start off slow if your cat hasn’t had it before. You can work up to more once you know your cat’s response.
How Should I Give Catnip To My Cat?
You can simply sprinkle catnip on the floor in front of your cat so they can smell or ingest it.
Or, as you saw above, it can be put on items or furniture you want your cat’s attention drawn to – like a new cat bed.
To make sure your cat truly gets the most potent benefits, as with most other herbs, it’s best to pinch and rub the catnip together between your fingers for a few seconds to release the oils in the herb.
You can also buy toys containing catnip – or put catnip in or on toys you already own.
You’ll also see catnip sprays and other liquid products out there. There is nothing wrong with these products, but they’re often too diluted to give your cat the best benefits from catnip.
Where Can I Find The Strongest Catnip?
You will automatically find that most organic catnip is stronger than non-organic. This is because organic plants are grown under strict regulations and not diluted with other ingredients during the manufacturing process.
No matter what type of catnip you buy however, catnip does start to lose its potency after a few short months.
Keeping your catnip in a tightly sealed container, and stored in a cool, dark place can help to keep it potent a little longer.
And if you buy a large amount, or you obtain some and have no plans to use it right away, store it in the freezer to help it last longer.
How Do I Know Where To Buy Catnip?
Luckily, there are many different places you can find catnip.
You can find catnip in most quality pet stores, from reputable sources online, or directly from the manufacturer. You can even buy the seeds and grow it yourself in your garden or a container in your kitchen window.
Just remember to always double check the catnip is totally organic before you buy it!
Why Is Buying Organic Catnip So Important?
Since catnip is an herb you want to ensure those herbs were grown under strict guidelines.
Choosing organic or premium catnip means you are getting a much higher quality product.
The term “organic” means the growing process has been subject to a specific, strict set of rules. No chemical pesticides have been used at any time during the planting, growing, or manufacturing process.
Ingesting chemical pesticides can lead to serious health concerns. They can cause skin issues, organ damage. and even cancer.
Unfortunately, the term “natural” doesn’t quite have these same strict regulations. So, it’s possible that some chemical fertilizers and pesticides could have been used during growing or processing.
Bottom line: always buy organic catnip!
So, How Do I Know What Is The Best Catnip For Cats?
There’s a sea of catnip choices out there and it’s sure hard to know which one to buy.
And even all organic catnip is not the same!
This is why I’ve taken the time to research and test many different types of organic and premium catnip.
After a lot of research, I have found what I think are the top 5 best catnip choices to consider.
The Best Catnip
- SmartyKat Organic Catnip
- Cat Crack Catnip Premium Blend
- Yeowww! Catnip Organic Toy
- Our Pets Premium Natural Catnip
- Yeowww! Premium Dried Catnip
SmartyKat Organic Catnip
SmartyKat offers a 100% pure organic catnip.
Yup, it’s totally free of any chemicals and fillers – which your catnip loving cat is guaranteed to go crazy over.
This catnip is grown in accordance with the National Organic Program regulations.
You get the perfect amount of catnip to give your cat over a few months before the product begins to lose its potency. And the small canister it comes in is easy to store – and it gives you the option to shake or pour the catnip out.
Most cat parents love that this catnip truly has a fresher herbal aroma than a lot of other similar brands of catnip.
Cat Crack Catnip Premium Blend
Cat Crack is a product of Canada.
They promise that the catnip is planted, grown, and harvested at the peak of the season. This ensures excellent plant quality and the highest potency products.
This catnip product from Cat Crack contains a proprietary blend which seems to stay potent a little longer than other similar products.
This catnip premium blend is 100% natural with zero preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Yeowww! Catnip Organic Toy
Yeowww! Is known for their premium pet products – and this one is no different!
They are especially known for their organic catnip – which they sell in several sizes.
Yeowww! only uses the blooming flower top part of the grown plant to make their catnip – which is a bit more potent.
But the really cool part is that they also sell them in some seriously fun, well-crafted toys.
These textured, soft cotton toys are filled completely with organic catnip. They are all totally handmade.
Yeowww! designs their toys to be totally durable. As your cat sniffs the catnip they are bound to batter and chew the toy – and it will stay together longer than average cat toys.
There are so many fun toys you can find for your cat. There are balls and pillows – and even apples, and cigars!
However, their banana catnip toy is a best seller. The size and curve of the banana toy makes it easy for your cat to hold onto with their paws while they lick and chew it.
Our Pets Premium Natural Catnip
Our Pets claims to be “the best catnip in the universe” and yes, it is excellent catnip.
This North American grown catnip is 100% natural and promises no added ingredients.
It has a strong odor that cats love – but won’t be too overpowering to anyone else in the house.
You get quite a large container of catnip for an excellent price.
Yeowww! Premium Dried Catnip
No Twigs / Stems
Yes, this is the same catnip which is included in the Yeowww! Catnip Organic Toy as reviewed above.
Yeowww! offers their premium catnip in bags or tubs to buy alone, as well as in fun, handmade toys.
Although their toys are awesome – sometimes you just want to have loose catnip.
So, if you would like to sprinkle the catnip on food or other areas, or you’re thinking of making your own catnip toys this is a great option.
They promise that their formula is blended using only the premium flower tops. This means it is blended using only the flowers which bloomed from the catnip plant.
Using only the flowers means not only will the product be incredibly potent, but you don’t have to worry about any sharp twigs or stems getting into the finished product.
As you can see catnip comes in many forms and varieties.
These are all great, organic catnip picks and you can’t really go wrong with any of these.
But the one that does stand out just above the others is SmartyKat Organic Catnip.
SmartyKat is guaranteed 100% organic catnip and since it is grown under accordance with the National Organic Program regulations you know it’s of premium quality.
It’s also fabulous how the container contains just the perfect amount of product, and it’s so easy to dispense to your cat.
For a great price you get a quality catnip product you can use to sprinkle on scratch posts, food, cat beds – or to just give to your cat.
And its fresh aroma will be pleasing to both you, and your cat.
So, shake away, and watch your cat go crazy!