Is there a cat alive who doesn’t twist and shout when treated to a little catnip? It seems that this crispy, crinkly green stuff has the power to electrify even the most laid back kitty!
Take a trip down the cat aisle of your local pet store and you’ll see tons of products laced with catnip. Give your cat a toy that’s been sprinkled with catnip and he’ll bite and bat it like it’s a live rodent. Scratching posts touched by a bit of catnip will have your feline manicuring his nails for hours!
So what exactly is this magic elixir that we so freely give to our cats and kittens? Have you ever wondered how safe it is, and exactly how it affects your little furry friend?
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Catnip is an herb; doesn’t it look exactly like the crushed oregano in our pantry? In fact, catnip is related to both oregano and spearmint and is part of the mint family.
This innocent looking little herb contains an oil, nepetalactone, which is the reason your cat crushes so hard on the green stuff. So, how exactly does this substance turn your little feline into a ferocious tiger?
“The chemosensory reaction is mediated by the main (smell) olfactory system of the cat brain,” explains Dr. Hohenhaus, a NYC vet.
Ok, so what does this mean in layman’s terms? It means that when your cat catches a whiff of catnip his brain is stimulated and “happy” chemicals are released, resulting in a more playful attitude.
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What if catnip doesn’t turn back time for your own little furry friend? It may be that the sense of smell in senior cats and kittens is minimized, in which case you won’t see much change in behavior.
Why not treat your favorite feline to a little catnip today? It’s an inexpensive way to make his day – and in his eyes you’re sure to be the cat’s meow!
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