Q: Is catnip harmful?
This might sound like a dumb question, but if mood altering drugs are not good for people to use recreationally, can catnip be bad for cats? I've had many, many cats over the years, and never used catnip for any of them because of this doubt.
I saw one of my daughter's cats get nasty when she gave it to him.
Oct 03, 2009
Years ago, I had similar beliefs and never gave my then-only cat any catnip. It sounded like a "drug" to me, and I didn't want to be giving my cat drugs! But I've read a lot about catnip since then and it apparently is a "harmless" substance that is NOT habit-forming, has a short effect with no lingering consequences, etc. And, as others pointed out, it is actually beneficial. One of the "facts" I read about catnip is that wild cats did and DO eat it to aid digestion and help their stomachs. So, I'd say your worries about catnip are unfounded. Your cat may or may not enjoy catnip. I don't think cats actually get "nasty" after eating catnip--they just get excited and playful.
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Oct 02, 2009
a few things...
1) not all cats respond to catnip. the catnip response is hereditary. did you know that the vast majority of cats in Australia don't respond to catnip? it's true! and it's a matter of heredity. and of cats that *do* respond, there are varying degrees of response. some cats go absolutely nuts. others are interested but not absolutely nutty over it. my cats enjoy muching it and like nuzzling and wrestling with catnip infused toys, but they don't "get nasty" by any means. anyway...yea, basically, response will vary greatly from cat to cat, if it occurrs at all.
2) about mood altering drugs. catnip is an herb in the mint family. it actually tends to have a calming effect when used on humans (usually in the form of a tea). many perfectly legal herbal products get used for a great variety of purposes, including mood enhancement. chammomile, kava, St. John's wort...these are just a few common examples. they're not for everybody...you shouldn't take St. John's wort if you take prescription birth control, and if you have liver problems or consume a good deal of alcohol you probably shouldn't take kava, but these products are available in health food stores as well and national pharmacies and area generally regarded as safe.
other things: once a cat has been exposed to and has responded to catnip, they will be "immune" for a while. it's non-toxic, it's not habit forming, and it simply mimics a pheromone. it's generally considered safe, but shouldn't be thought of as a substitute for human interaction and stimulation. i think that's probably the biggest mistake that some people make with catnip. certified organic catnip is easy to find if you're worried about pesticides, or you can grow your own. pet stores and even Wal Mart will carry catnip seeds. try it out...your cat may not respond at all (about 30% don't), and if they seem to get "nasty" and it worries you, the effects will wear off soon, and just don't do it again. no biggie.
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