Contents of Article
- Tips for Choosing the Best Catnip
- 4 Ways to Get Your Catnip
- Packaging and Freshness
- The Top 5 Best Catnip Products Available
- Catnip Tips
Catnip, officially known as Nepetaria cataria and informally catswort and catmint, is a member of the mint family that prompts behavioral changes and euphoric reactions in cats. This plant grows in bushy clusters with leaves similar in shape to other plants in the mint family and has a minty fragrance. It’s easy to grow in your garden and you might also spot it growing in the wild as a weed.
Catnip offers stimulation, entertainment, and relaxation. Catnip can help encourage your cat to use new furniture or toys and can help keep them calm during stressful situations.
Nepetalactone, secreted in the highest concentrations on the flowers and leaves, is where this strange power lies. This compound has a strong behavioral effect on the approximately 75% of cats who are genetically attuned to it, leading to some interesting behaviors that have been enchanting cat guardians for years.
What is the Best Catnip?
What does catnip do to cats?
The essential oil in catnip temporarily chemically alters the brain, causing euphoria, playfulness, relaxation, and sometimes, aggression.
When the nepetalactone in catnip passes through your cat’s nasal tissues, an interesting chain of events ensues in the brain, creating chemical reactions in key areas linked to behavioral responses. The reaction is similar to that experienced when your cat picks up on feline pheromones.
Common reactions to catnip are:
- Rubbing the cheeks and body on objects
- Increased playfulness
- Excitedly sniffing, licking, chewing, and rolling in the catnip
After about 5-15 minutes of catnip frenzy, cats typically become relaxed and contented, taking a nap and generally chilling out after the initial excitement. They’ll need at least an hour to react to the catnip again, but you might want to wait longer – if you give your cat catnip more than a few times a week, they can develop an “immunity” to it and will no longer react.
Again only, 70-80% of the feline population reacts to catnip, and your cat won’t be affected until they’re at least 6 months of age. Cats inherit the affinity to catnip genetically.
Here’s a video on how catnip affects cats:
Is catnip bad for cats?
Fortunately, the question should be about the potential health benefits of catnip rather than its dangers. Catnip is completely safe for your cat to eat, smell, and touch.
In this study, cats were force-fed the active component of catnip to determine the effects of the herb – no considerable health impact was observed.
If your cat eats too much catnip, however, it could cause vomiting and diarrhea – but no long-term effects.
But what is our cat experiencing, really, when they’re affected by catnip? Are they having hallucinations when they seem to chase invisible mice?
Of course, that’s a tricky question that with our current knowledge is impossible to answer. Only cats know exactly how it feels to react to catnip, but we can assume that it’s pleasant – cats continually follow this herb’s enticing aroma and do what they can to experience its effects.
People have historically used catnip for its mild sedative effects and its oil also functions as an effective mosquito repellant. For cats, catnip works as a natural calming agent that can help your cat deal with stressful situations, and it can encourage sedentary or depressed cats to get up and exercise. Besides these benefits, you can use it to entice your cat to eat by sprinkling a little catnip on their food.
Tips for Choosing the Best Catnip
Catnip is easy to find – but how do you know that you’re selecting a variety that your cat will love? Catnip is a straightforward product, but not all brands, varieties, and presentations are equal. Before going over our picks for the best catnip on the market today, let’s go over ways of spotting the difference between stale, ineffective catnip crumbs and a high-quality ‘nip that your cat will love.
4 Ways to Get Your Catnip
It’s all just catnip, but there are a few different ways to prepare and offer it to your cat.
1. Fresh Catnip
First on our list is the obvious: fresh catnip. You can grow this in a planter or in the ground and allow your cat to interact with the plant on their own. Cats love rolling on, nibbling, and rubbing against fresh catnip plants.
2. Loose Dried Catnip
Dried catnip is the most common type you’ll find available for purchase. You get a little more bang for your buck with dried catnip than the fresh kind – you won’t need to give your cat as much to get a reaction. Just rub the dried catnip between your fingers to release the fragrant oil and sprinkle it where you want your cat to play.
3. Catnip Spray
Liquid catnip spray is catnip oil combined with water to create a potent, fragrant spray. It’s a convenient choice for those looking to freshen up old toys or attract their cat to a new bed or piece of furniture. When you don’t want to clean up flakes of catnip, this makes a great choice. However, your cat misses out on the fun of chewing and interacting with the physical catnip.
4. Catnip Toys
These toys make it extra fun to give your cat catnip by eliminating cleanup and giving your cat something to play with while they experience the euphoric effects of the herb. These toys are packed with dried catnip to stimulate your cat’s instinct to play. If you choose a refillable toy, it can last for years beyond the lifespan of the original catnip.
Packaging and Freshness
Essentially, the main things we’re looking for are freshness and potency. Quality preparation, packaging, and storage are all important factors when it comes to ensuring that catnip works well. Because the leaves and flowers have the highest concentrations of essential oils, they’re the most potent part of the catnip plant. Look for commercial catnip that is made with only these portions of the plant, rather than bulked up with low-potency plant matter like stems and seeds.
Ensure freshness by looking for catnip in well-sealed airtight packaging. Catnip that’s been on the shelf for a long time has likely lost its potency and won’t do much for your cat.
Because of health concerns related to the use of chemical pesticides, it’s a good idea to look for organic catnip.
The Top 5 Best Catnip Products Available
Any catnip manufacturer can claim that their product is high-quality and because often so little information is released about preparation practices, it’s difficult to determine whether or not you’re indeed looking at a superior product. That’s why customer reviews have played such an important role in choosing the following choices for our list of the top 5 best catnip products available today. I’ve included dried catnip, catnip spray, and a catnip toy, so there are options for a variety of needs.
Yeowww! Organic Catnip Review
This is 100% organic dried catnip made from only premium flower tops and leaves for potency. Yeowww! Organic Catnip is made in the USA and comes in a resealable tub or bag, making it easy to ensure that this product stays fresh for a long time. – Buy It
- Organic catnip made without chemical pesticides
- Made in the USA
- A high-quality blend of flower tops and leaves
- Comes in a resealable bag or tub for freshness
- Some reviewers found small stem fragments in this catnip
Meowijuana Meowi-Waui Catnip Leaf & Flake Review
Organically grown in Southern California and Washington State, this premium catnip is hand-picked at the peak of natural oil production for maximum potency. This dried catnip comes in reusable, resealable plastic bottles. – Buy It
- 100% organic catnip is grown without chemical pesticides
- Grown in the USA
- Made with premium dried catnip leaves, no stems
- Comes in a resealable and reusable bottle
- Obviously, not every catnip will work for every cat – some reviewers said that their cat just didn’t like this catnip
Sojos Catnip Review
This 100% organic catnip comes in a distinctive tin to preserve freshness. It’s grown in the Cascades of Washington State and carefully harvested by hand. Customers notice that the catnip is a darker green than most, with a strong fragrance that’s delightful to cats. – Buy It
- 100% organic catnip is grown without chemical pesticides
- Grown in the USA
- Highly fragrant
- Minimal stems for maximum potency
- Comes in a tin can for freshness
- An expensive choice
- Some reviewers complain about stems in the catnip, while others praise the total lack of low-quality plant matter
KONG Naturals Catnip Spray for Cats Review
Our Pick for Best Catnip Spray
Catnip spray allows you to create an exciting and aromatic environment without making a mess you’ll have to vacuum up later, and this KONG Naturals catnip spray is a solid choice. This low-priced spray claims to be made with the most potent catnip oil on the market and is a very popular choice among consumers. It’s not organic, so those looking for an organic product may choose a different spray. – Buy It
- Made from all-natural catnip oil
- Highly potent and effective
- Spray catnip is clean and convenient
- Not organic
Yeowww! Catnip Yellow Banana Cat Toy Review
Our Pick for Best Catnip Toy
A durable banana-shaped toy with a cult following, Yeowww!’s famous toy contains 100% organic catnip with a reputation for excellence. Like catnip spray, catnip toys make the experience cleaner and more convenient by eliminating the flaky mess that can accompany dried catnip use. Since the catnip is built into the toy, your cat will always have something to play with when the catnip starts working its magic. – Buy It
- Individually stuffed, hand-sewn, and made in the USA
- Stuffed with organic catnip
- Uses only the flower tops and leaves for potency
- Extremely durable for enthusiastic play
- Can’t be refilled
Once you have some catnip on hand, it’s time to let your cat use it. Here are some tips to help your cat to have a great catnip experience:
Keep it fresh.
Stale catnip doesn’t work!
Before offering catnip, take a sniff for yourself. The catnip should have a strong aroma. If you can’t smell anything, the catnip is stale and has lost its effectiveness.
Keep your catnip fresh by storing it in an airtight container. For longer-term use, you can pop it into the refrigerator or freezer to make sure that the catnip stays fresh and fragrant.
If your catnip toys have lost their appeal, you can either refill them with fresh catnip, rub them with fresh catnip, or spritz the old toys with catnip spray.
It’s all about the oil.
Since catnip oil contains the active nepetalactone, it’s important that the oil is released when offering catnip. Squeeze and crumble dried or fresh catnip to stimulate oil release and activate the aroma. If using a toy, squeeze and massage the toy to release the fragrant oils.
You can sprinkle catnip anywhere you’d like your cat to play and hang out. This could be on the floor or in a strategic location, like a cat tree or scratching post that you want them to use.
Let your cat play, and be careful.
When cats are in the midst of a catnip frenzy, they can become aggressive or forget their manners, so it’s best to watch your hands while playing with them. Take advantage of their playfulness by engaging your cat with toys, but unless you’re willing to get scratched, it’s a good idea to keep your hands a safe distance away from your cat’s claws.