Why Are Cats So Crazy for Catnip?

Upside Down on Catnip

What is it about catnip that makes our cats get so wild and crazy?

Classified in the mint plant family, catnip has been found to contain an essential oil referred to as nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is the component in catnip that causes your cat to react in a silly, intoxicated manner. When catnip is inhaled by your cat, researchers believe nepetalactone mimics pleasure pheromones specific to felines.

However, some cats do not react to catnip in same way as those cats more sensitive to its effects. In fact, some cats are not born with the gene that causes them to be responsive to catnip; the gene occurs in only about fifty percent of cats.

Differences Between Inhalation And Digestion

In the wild, animals are guided to mating and other important instinctual actions through scent and pheromones. Pheromones are generally inhaled, and this is why cats inhaling catnip become so excited and downright goofy after smelling it.

When cats eat catnip, most of them become mellowed out; a reaction that goes away after a nap or a period of relaxation.

Cat owners should know that young kittens, even those predisposed to being sensitive the effects of catnip, are generally not affected until after the age of six months. However, some cases have been reported about kittens being just over three months old and experiencing the effects of catnip. For the most part, however, adult cats seem to experience the greatest effects, maybe due to the maturation of the reproductive senses and pheromonal instincts.

Cat on Catnip

Individual Effects Of Catnip

Your cat might roll around the floor, meowing in a strange manner that also resembles growling after being exposed to catnip. Some cats react with extreme high energy levels, running around as though they are supercharged in some way.

Owners should also be aware that some cats become aggressive after inhaling catnip, even more so when you try to take away the source of the catnip or their favorite toys.

Cats usually have their reactions, like rolling or running around, for about ten or fifteen minutes; afterwards losing interest and finding other more interesting activities.

If your cat inhales more catnip during this ten-to-fifteen minute window, they will not experience increased effects. In fact, in most cats, the inhalation of catnip will not cause any effects until at least two hours have passed after an initial inhalation.

Benefits Of Catnip For Cat Owners

For many cat owners, the frustration of trying to train their cat is enormous. However, thanks to the effects catnip has on some cats, many owners have found it to be an excellent training tool. For example, if your cat will not stop clawing on the furniture, trying rubbing catnip on a scratching post for luring your feline friend to it and away from the couch.

The Best Sources Of Catnip

Growing your own catnip is the best way to have it fresh as possible. Catnip is easy to grow in a pot indoors and can be a good way to keep your cat out of your houseplants as well.

When examining a pot of capnip, a cat will smell it, rub it with his face, lick it, and finally eat it. Growing a pot of catnip along with wheat or barley can provide fresh catnip for the greatest effects and a delicious, nutritious snack as well.

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  1. Reply

    Ats kinda nae true my cat does nae like cat nip at all but she loves wotsits tomato soup ham chicken & cheese.x

  2. Reply

    They go crash for this

  3. Reply

    My three cats go bonkers over this stuff lol xx

  4. Reply

    I grow it – at first in a pot – but it has spread like wild fire – my kitties love it – they are get stupid and roll around on the floor like fools

  5. Reply

    They go bezerk, rolling in it, running.

  6. Reply

    my big tummy cat!

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  9. Reply

    My cat had a branch of fresh catnip and got so silly he sprayed his own little kitty tent! had to throw out his tent and no more fresh cat nip for him! Now I give him dried catnip! Then he just gets frisky and playful! LOL

  10. Reply

    My 2 cats could not care less if there is catnip. my neighbours 2 get totally wasted. That is too adorable!

  11. my cat went nuts loving up to everything

  12. Reply

    I did not know this.

  13. My daughter is growing fresh catnip . All my cats love it.

  14. Reply

    My cats love it!!

  15. Reply

    yes an it didn’t faze him one bit

  16. two really love it and the other two can take it or leave it….:)

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  18. Reply

    awwwwwww get the belly…….

  19. Reply

    My friend’s cat, Kidd. In Catnip Heaven!

  20. Reply

    It is always good for a little exercise , she loves to do “little kickers” on the catnip bags .

  21. Reply


  22. Reply

    That’s too funny, Darlene!

  23. Reply

    Kidd’s a cutie!

  24. Reply

    🙂 He is a big baby!! Such a mama’s boy!

  25. I took this about 20 minutes ago! ha ha The reason my catnip plant is dying.

  26. Reply

    bonachão , muito folgado , acho que bebeu todas kkkkkkkkkkk

  27. Reply

    CRAZY….Like they on crack…………

  28. Reply

    Tabitha couldn’t care less for catnip

  29. Reply

    Yes has it here & he’s a funny dude likes it but not crazy over it, he cracks me up.

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  31. Reply

    he knows nuts hehe no response at all to a catnip plant i bought he didnt like it when i rubbed leaves he was like ewww mommy

  32. Reply

    My one cat just loves to roll in it. She loves to get it all over her and then she just lays down like she is all wasted. My other cat does not care for it at all.

  33. Reply

    my cats are crazy with or without catnip!!!

  34. Reply

    Mine goes quite mellow and goofy-guess he is one of the 50%

  35. Reply

    CC used to roll and act like she was feeling good and sometimes she would act angry when she got some cat nip. She would eat the whole thing stalk and all! Sadie also rolls in it and acts silly, she eats the stalk too but leaves the rest on the floor!

  36. Reply

    Aha, so catnip is in the mint family of plants. One of my 6 y.o. males also has a catnip-like reaction to the scent of hard candy wintergreen mints, which he can smell on my breath. One of his siblings likes the mint scent, but doesn’t flip out over it.

  37. Reply

    Well we have 2 that got the gene!!!!

  38. Reply

    My three love it.

  39. Reply

    MY Siamese cats don’t ever react to it, but my other cats have gone crazy!

  40. Reply

    mine go crazy.

  41. Reply

    OMG Yes!!!! I have 5 cats & they love it. They’ll eat it , smell it, & roll around in it. Then they usually curl up & take a nap.

  42. one male loves it…the other three not to much

  43. Reply

    … that’s Beans … on cat nip 😀

  44. Reply

    Catnip is to cats, as Chocolate Wine is to a Mom!

  45. Reply

    My one cat will lay on the board thing and will not let anybody else even get close to it!

  46. Reply

    my normally very sweat and loving cat Checkers, becomes and very mean and nasty cat on cat nip. When 0ne of the other cats walk up towards her, fist will come the very evil looking, intense stare, then too close and she attacks.
    The other two cats just lay in it, and roll around.

  47. Reply

    Looks like Beans is having a good time 🙂

  48. Reply


  49. Reply

    I can picture the “little kickers”. Lol

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