Why do cats like catnip?

Catnip is a weed-like plant that is originally from the Mediterranean. It has a chemical in it that, when cats smell it, causes them to go nuts playing with it. They'll lick it, sniff it, roll around in it, and rub onto stuff. They do that for about 5-10 minutes, then they won't really be into it again for another hour or so. A lot of cats don't respond at all, though - it's estimated that roughly 15-30% of the cat population doesn't have the response. Also, older cats and young kittens are less likely to respond.


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Is catnip dangerous?

Nope. It's safe for cats, no matter how crazy they start acting. The only thing to watch out for is that you shouldn't just let them start eating gobs of the stuff. Some cats want to eat it - it's not toxic, but if they eat it in large amounts they may vomit or get diarrhea. So just don't feed them chunks of it and you're OK, or take it away if they start eating it up.

Is my cat getting high off catnip?

No, it's not the same thing as a drug. It stimulates the pleasure centers of the cat and the cat will really enjoy it, but it isn't addictive and isn't causing the cat to hallucinate or anything. It's more similar to the way sugar will cause kids to be energetic and active.


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