What Does Catnip Do to Cats

For us humans catnip smells pleasantly minty. For cats it smells incredibly tempting. It’s hard for them to escape their spell. But why? It’s time for enlightenment!

Actinidine and nepetalactone – active substances with attraction

Catnip contains two active ingredients that literally drive cats crazy. It’s actinidine and nepetalactone. These substances are similar to a substance excreted in the urine of uncastrated female cats. When cats and especially tomcats perceive this smell, they can hardly escape its attraction…

But attention: Not all catnip sorts work in this measure on cats. There are varieties such as ‘Odeur Citron’, which, in addition to minty, also have a citrus-like aroma. Cats don’t like a citrusy smell at all.

How does catnip affect cats?

Contrary to the fear of some cat owners, catnip is not toxic for cats according to studies. The cats can nibble on the plant without suffering any damage to their health. Also the essential oil does not harm them when inhaling.

This plant has an intoxicating and beguiling effect on the house tigers and especially on tomcats. Almost like an administered drug that takes her to a dreamland… The cats instinctively look for the proximity of the catnip. They roll around in her, loll on her, purr and nibble on the shoots.

Catnip has a relaxing effect on nervous animals. Rotten animals are stimulated by their active ingredients to become active. But young animals and older animals usually remain unimpressed and leave the plant ‘to the side’.

How to use catnip for cats?

Already in the Middle Ages one made use of the effect of catnip on cats. Today you have the possibility to plant the catnip in your garden and cut individual shoots for your house tiger at home. Alternatively you can buy and use the essential oil.

These uses exist among others:

  • pack in box, jute bag, pillow
  • essential oil to drip on cat toy or scratching tree
  • Spray essential oil on furniture
  • Spray body parts with the essential oil previously diluted in water / rub in

Don’t exaggerate: If too much furniture, cat toys, scratching trees and the like are provided with the smell of catnip, the cat can feel overloaded. She also needs a place where she can rest and rest. In addition, the effect of catnip on cats decreases over time when they are permanently confronted with it (habituation effect).

Tips & Tricks

When it’s time to go to the vet, you can use catnip to lure the cat into the uncomfortable and disagreeable transport box.


Text: madeleine