If you are a cat owner, you know well enough the unique effect this particular product has on your animals. Catnip has proven to be an alluring, near irresistible attractor for cats, and yet pet owners often have no idea what this mysterious, potent concoction actually is! On an equally important note, the question must also be asked: why do cats enjoy catnip as much as they do? Here are a few interesting research notes which may be prove to be helpful in this investigation.
The first inquiries into the quasi-magical powers of catnip began with the Etruscans, who noticed that a particular weed, Nepeta Cataria, was capable of a number of surprising results, including the treatment of various skin ailments, colds and fevers. Soon enough, individuals began to notice that Nepeta Cataria also stimulated their domestic cats in a very unique fashion.
Nepeta Cataria, also known as catnip, can be found across southern and eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East, central Asia, and certain locations in China. Its relative abundance have allowed this product to be market across the world at large. On a fundamental level, the chief explanation as to why catnip serves as such a powerful stimulant for cats is due to the fact that the weed emits a strong scent that closely mirrors that of cat’s sex pheromones Because of this, cats who come across catnip are often completely overtaken by its presence. Pet owners who provide their cats with catnip should not be surprised if their pets suddenly seem overtly ‘physical’ with the item in question. Common behaviours including rubbing against the catnip-laden item or licking/chewing it. The effects of catnip often last for approximately 20 minutes. Therefore, catnip is often considered to have a ‘short-term’ effect on animals that have been exposed to it.
Although Nepeta Cataria is now commonly referred to as “Catnip”, at one time this weed was also labelled “Cat mint” due in large part to the fact that many individuals consider the smell of this plant a close match to mint.
Pet owners should take note, however, that catnip can be used in excess. Cats who have been exposed to excessive levels of catnip may appear confused, groggy or begin uncontrollably drooling. Although these effects are largely temporary, those who do notice these behaviours in their animals are advised to reduce the presence of catnip in their residence in order to ensure that their animals behaves normally in the future.
Catnip has not always been solely a luxury for animals. In fact, it was not uncommon for catnip to be incorporated into various condiments throughout European kitchens many years ago. Humans, too, enjoyed the unique aroma of this weed. Catnip has also been found to be a natural repellant against various common pests, including mosquitos, termites, fleas and cockroaches, among others.
Ultimately, catnip should be considered a fun diversion for your pets. There is little to no harm that this weed can cause your animals, and should therefore be used at the discretion of the pet owner. Those who may be tempted to worry that their cat has been overexposed to catnip can take comfort in the fact that no lasting health effects have been observed in animals that have been repeatedly exposed to catnip.
As an interesting side note, it is also worth mentioning that catnip is considering an excellent bee-foraging plant and is, therefore, often incorporated into public gardens and other large open spaces. With all of these ideas in mind, it seems reasonable to declare that the benefits of catnip far outweigh any critiques some may have of this naturally occurring “guilty pleasure” for cats. We hope your pets enjoy it!