Most cat owners can tell an anecdote about their cats’ peculiar behavior after giving their cats catnip. Playing with catnip toys or coming in contact with catnip leaves, cats show signs of bliss or thrill, rolling around, rubbing against objects, sneezing, licking or dashing around with dilated pupils.
Dr. Christine Simon, veterinarian at Animal & Bird Hospitals’ clinic Cat Doctors in Tampa, Fla., said cats exhibit those behaviors in respond to the catnip’s active organic compound nepetalactone. The cats either inhale the oil released by rubbing the leaves or ingest the leaves, but not all cats are receptive to nepetalactone. Simon said a genetic predisposition seems to make cats responsive, and kittens under 4 months of age react less passionately to catnip than older cats. In dogs, catnip may produce a feeling of tranquility and serenity.
While catnip generally amuses cats without doing any harm, Simon said if cats have access to catnip too often, it may lose its effect, and ingestion of large amounts of catnip can cause short-lived vomiting or diarrhea. A recommended guideline is to give cats catnip weekly or less frequently.
Catnip is also available in the form of tea for human consumption. For information about catnip tea, go to http://www.newsandtales.com/