What Is It About Catnip That Drives Cats Crazy?

catnip crown point, in

Cats absolutely love catnip, and who can blame them? This delicious and natural plant has healing properties with many benefits. There are health benefits to consuming and using catnip on cats, but it also creates a high that they enjoy.

But why does this occur? What is it about catnip that causes cats to act crazy? Read our Crown Point, IN, animal hospital‘s article to find out more.

What Is Catnip?

First, we need to start by understanding what the plant really is. Catnip is an herb that has been growing in the wild for thousands of years. This is not a new plant, and there is a strong and old relationship between cats and this herb. It is similar to grass and grows in long and thin strands with a distinct smell.

Catnip is part of the mint family, believe it or not! These two plants often grow together and help each other pollinate. Not only does catnip grow tall and into vivid green, but it also produces lavender and lilac flowers that are absolutely beautiful. In its naturally growing form, cats love it just as much as they loved it processed and ground into a powder!

Catnip can benefit humans as well. This aromatic plant has delicious flowers and leaves that you can make into tea. This has been a treatment amongst many cultures for coughs and digestive issues in both animals and humans.

How Does Catnip Work?

So, now that we know what catnip is, we can talk about how it works. Cats have very sensitive noses. They often sniff around and communicate with scent. Because of this, sweet and delicious-smelling plants often call for them, which includes catnip.

The thing with catnip is that it is not like other plants. The smell does not only smell sweet and good, but it is also enough to leave a high and a feeling of breathlessness. Once your cat gets one whiff and a big sniff of catnip, it won’t want to stop!

There are also hormones in the catnip that smell very similar to a cat’s sex hormone, which produces feelings of ecstasy and joy.

cat with catnip banana toy

How to Use Catnip

Catnip has a lot of uses. You can use this amazing plant as a form of training, or you can use it as a beneficial health alternative. For example, if you have a cat that suffers from anxiety and nerves, giving them a sprinkle of catnip ignites their senses and causes them to feel almost instant relief.

When training a cat, once they do an action that you have taught them to do, you can give them the smallest amount of catnip. This will encourage them through positive rewards to continue doing the command. Over time, you won’t need to use the catnip to get a response from your cat.

Growing Your Own Catnip 5 Easy Steps

You can actually grow your own catnip at home. The only thing is that it may be hard to keep the plant away from cats until it is ready to be used and processed.

Here’s how you can grow your own catnip:

Prepare the Soil

Before you can place a catnip seed into the soil, it is important to prepare it first. Contrary to popular belief, not all soil is the same. Most of the dirt under our feet and outside lack microorganisms and nutrients that help a plant thrive and roots grow. Add nutrients and organic materials to your soil before planting the seed.

Plant the Seed

Technically, you don’t have to plant a seed; you can also transplant a catnip plant from the nursery. However, if you choose to start from scratch, you will need to plant the seed at less than a centimeter depth. It is best to place the seeds on top of the soil and add more soil on top.


Water the area thoroughly. This is what stimulates the seed to germinate and begin rooting. You should not overwater, though. Check by inserting your hand or a stick into the dirt, sometimes, the top layer is dry, and the bottom layer is soaking.


Fertilizer is not always necessary. However, if you want to encourage growth, look for a nitrogen-based fertilizer that is liquid.


Catnip needs a lot of sun. They act like weeds and mint, and thrive with warmth. If there is not enough sunlight, you will likely need to use grow lights inside. 

Ask Our Crown Point, IN, Veterinarians If You Have Questions About Catnip and Your Cat

All in all, catnip is something that almost all cats love and react well to. This plant, a close relative to mint plants, has a chemical or scent that mimics the scent of fertility in cats. This enticing scent alerts a part in your cat’s brain that makes them happy and act ‘crazy.’

Catnip can be a very helpful tool, too! You don’t have to worry about the health dangers as there are barely any. Always supervise your cat, though, in the presence of catnip. It is good to inhale and chew on; however, the flavor is not the best.

If you’d like more advice on which catnip would be best for your feline, be sure to ask our Crown Point, IN, veterinarians during your pet’s next visit. 

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