What is Catnip?
Catnip is a flowering plant that goes by the scientific term of Nepeta cataria. It has an extensive native range that stretches all the way from China to Europe. Today, catnip is accessible throughout the world because of trade.
Cats are highly susceptible to the oil found in the catnip leaves and stem. As such, catnip plays an important role in the care of cats. It acts as a treat that has amazing calming effects on cats. Its efficacy is largely attributed to a chemical compound referred to as nepetalctone. However, several other chemicals in catnip are also of benefit to cats.
Catnip is applied through either the essential oil or the leaves. According to a recent research report in November 2017 by the American Chemical Society, the plant from which catnip is made, Nepeta cataria, has some strong psychoactive features that positively affect the cat. The chemicals triggers a reaction that makes the cat behave in the same manner it would respond to sexual pheromones. This euphoric effect can last from anywhere between 10 minutes and one hour, and affects up to 75% of cats.
The research further notes that not all cats are affected in the same way. For example, the euphoric effect may kick in immediately in certain cats, while it may be gradual in others. In the same way, the effects wear off differently. Some cats may just crash once the effects diminish, while others will remain mellow for some time.
So, why do cats enjoy the catnip experience so much? Why do they love crawling on carpets and into boxes that have been sprinkled with catnips? Are there any real benefits of catnips?
The Key Benefits of Catnips
Cats enjoy many benefits from being exposed to catnips. Here is a look at the key ones:
1. Catnips help Relieve Anxiety and Stress in Cats
Cats are very susceptible to stress that they get from their environment (which in many cases is also ours). They exhibit their stress by hissing, hiding and growling, among a litany of other symptoms. These symptoms sometimes make some people to refer to the cats as spiteful or mean. This could not be further from the truth. Cats are subjected to stress just as much as we are, and many a times their stress originates from our activities. They a simple change of environment is enough to send your pet into a mood swing. Cats therefore need as much relaxation as we do in order to maintain a good balance in their lives. Unfortunately, cats do not have a variety of choices on how to go about this. The best way to help them burst their stress is by regularly using catnip, toys and play.
2. Catnips Can Help Cats Combat Medical Ailments
Research has shown that catnip has very effective properties for combating illnesses in humans. A study conducted at the New York University’s Langone Medical Center concluded that catnip can help alleviate conditions like colds, sleeplessness, anxiety and digestive problems in human beings. Experts have strongly suggested that cats can get the same medicinal value from being exposed to catnips.
3. Catnips Heighten the Cats Natural Hunting Instincts
Cats that are used to staying indoors as pets can easily become lethargic. This lowers their hunting prowess to a large extent. Of course, this is contrary to the laws of nature, as hunting should be an integral part of the feline’s life. Failure to perform these natural tasks well can lead to the stress build-up in the cat. To help alleviate this, it is recommended that you expose your pet to quality playtime and enough toys. However, even more effective is the use of catnip, for it works on a very different level, allowing the cats to develop their hunting skills in a unique way.
4. Catnips Help the cats to Bond with Humans More Effectively
After the hyperactivity associated with being exposed to catnip, cats fall into a tranquil state where they find comfort in being close to humans. They are at this state free of stress, and they are therefore more amenable. It will be easy to talk to them, cuddle them and massage them as they are now in the ’bonding phase’’. This bonding is bound to increase the quality of life for both the cat and humans.
Care should be taken not to replace toys and quality playtime with catnip. It should be stressed, however, that catnip should be part of your cats routine as it has been proven to improve your pet’s mental, physical and emotional health. It is the best way of keeping our cats fully relaxed.