Crazy for Catnip

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Picture of Evin Burolla’s cat, Casper

Evin Burrola, Staff Writer

Have you ever given a cat catnip? This treat always made cats go wild. Catnip comes from a plant from the mint family, the plant’s scientific name is Nepeta cataria, this plant grows two to three feet tall and has sturdy stems and almost heart-shaped leaves. The stems and leaves of this plant are where this oil called nepetalactone comes from, this oil when smelled by cats stimulates special receptors in their little bodies that make them feel overwhelmingly happy. When in dried form, it can be found in a lot of cat toys.

When you see a cat first smell catnip they often will paw at it, rub it, roll over, or lick and chew it. All cats have different reactions to it. “The catnip response is hereditary. It is estimated that about 1/3 of the cats lack this gene.” Most Australian cats don’t have this trait and so aren’t affected by catnip. Nepetalactone does not only just drive house cats crazy, but big cats like tigers and lions also react the same way as house cats.

Could this be harmful to your pets? In an article called “Is Catnip Bad For Cats” by Jordan Bissel, he states that there has been no real evidence of it being harmful to your cat. The only thing people have ever seen a change in their cats after giving them catnip is behavioral changes. But surprisingly the only bad thing catnip can cause is a mild tummy ache, but that’s only if a cat eats a large amount of it.

Going into this research I thought catnip was harmful and could make your cat crazy or angry. I feel safer about giving catnip to my furry little friend Casper.