Is a Dip in the Nip a Good Trip for Your Cat?

What's better than having a soft, fuzzy, friendly feline to frolic with in your life? A really happy soft, fuzzy, friendly feline. For most cats, that ticket to happiness is a quick dip in the nip—catnip, to be more specific. Since it is a sort of drug, though, you want to know more about it before letting your cat get too carried away with it.

1. What, Exactly Is Catnip?

Catnip is a mighty, minty herb, containing a pheromone-mimicking substance called nepetalactone. Although it first originated in the Middle East, it's now grown virtually everywhere. In fact, you can grow it yourself in an indoor pot (safely out of reach of your feline) or add it to your outdoor garden, for a cat-utopia, right in your backyard.

2. What Does It Do To Your Cat?

The nepetalactone in nip instigates receptors in your cat's brain, leading to different moods and reactions. Cats who sniff the nip tend to become very active and aroused, while those who nibble the nip feel more serene and laid back.

3. Why Is Catnip Good For Most Cats?

Most veterinary professionals will tell you that catnip is a fun way to stimulate your feline, and stimulation is something they need. Somewhere in your cat's genetic history, there was prowling, climbing, hunting and playing fiercely with other animals, but today, those same genes are still active and need to be satisfied. A dip into the nip may result in your cat darting around the room and wanting to play, which is something they all need.

Conversely, nip may have a calming effect on your pet, which is also beneficial. Sometimes, they just need to "chill" in much the same capacity as humans. Whether your feline is rambunctious or serene, the nip should be a pleasurable trip.

4. When Is It Bad For A Cat?

It's better to know ahead of time if something shouldn't be offered to your cat, so ask your veterinarian, first, if you have any suspicions that catnip might not be appropriate for your feline. Although most cats do just fine, there are special circumstances which, unfortunately, indicate that catnip is not advised, like the following:

  • If your cat has respiratory problems
  • When allergies, which are rare for catnip, are present
  • If a cat becomes too aggressive
  • When a cat is still a kitten, as most vets don't recommend nip until the animal is old enough to leave its mother
  • If a cat has a sensitive digestive system, it may have adverse reactions such as diarrhea and vomiting

If, after offering the catnip, your pet exhibits any behavior other than excitement and, perhaps, goofiness, cease use of it and talk to your veterinarian. Any severe reactions, such as breathing problems, sudden itchiness, or watery eyes, may necessitate a visit to the animal clinic. Some very sensitive cats experience reactions to all kinds of things, like perfumes, grass, cleaning products, and even food; thus, it's better to have your cat thoroughly examined, as opposed to risking a negative reaction every time the animal is exposed to something new.

Anything you give your cat should be carefully considered, especially if you're not sure about possible reactions. Always check with your vet before delving into unexplored territory, and check back quickly should something seem amiss.

Contact a company like Parkview Animal Hospital for help deciding if catnip might be a good option for you and your cat.