Barring some other allergy or physical sensitivity specific to the individual, people and felines alike ought to enjoy the unique functions of catnip in aiding our mood. Can Cats Eat Catnip? Yes, it is safe for cats to eat. Read on to learn more about catnip benefits and potential side effects. So crumble your cat a bit of the herb into her bowl, brew yourself a tea and prepare to relax!
The plant is non-toxic in any reasonable quantity and poses essentially no immediate threat to you or your pet. Catnip does seem to offer certain benefits; why not take advantage of them!
What Is Catnip?
Compounds in catnip causes a unique reaction in various systems in cats’ bodies, both large and small. If you’ve ever seen a cat exposed to catnip, you know that it can act a little erratic. You might even mistake a catnip crazy kitty for being in heat!
Catnip is a member of the mint family of plants indigenous to Europe but was spread to North America by way of European Settlement. The plant is now highly common on the American continent due to its suitability to many climates.
Scientifically known as Nepeta cataria, this perennial can be found in the wild in many places throughout America. The plant is common in herb gardens as it is known for its peculiar effects on both people and their pets.
Can Cats Eat Catnip?
Don’t Panic! Cats may even go so far as to eat a little of the catnip if it’s given to them dry or in their food. Our feline friends have many dietary sensitivities that require our vigilance to protect them from eating something that might make them sick. Thankfully catnip is not a risk to your cat.
Cats may also exhibit a few other odd behaviors when they contact the plant. Usually, they will paw at the plant material, sniffing and licking their lips. They will often chirp or otherwise become vocal, rolling around in the substance and shaking their head.
Catnip’s Unique Effects on People and Animals
For hundreds of years, catnip has been used as a herbal remedy to treat certain illnesses such as headaches, nausea, and nervous system issues. It has been used as a treatment for digestive health problems in infant children and was at one time believed to aid in female fertility and used to induce menstruation.
People have ingested the plant in many ways, including smoking, infusion, tincture, and tea. Catnip has also been used in applications for its acute stimulant type of effects and the calming sedative reactions it produces in people.
Cats react somewhat differently to exposure to catnip than humans because of differences in how the two species’ brains function.
For cats, the most active element of the plant is a metabolic product produced within the cat’s body when the primary oil in catnip called Nepatalactone enters the creature’s bloodstream. This process works effectively like pheromone stimulation regarding the animal’s response.
This biological chain of cause and effect produces many of the same behaviors that cats exhibit when they are near another potential mate. Some people believe that the plant triggers “happy receptors” in the cat’s brain, causing a dreamy, playful, or cuddly behavior.