does catnip get cats high

What Does Catnip Do To Cats and Is It Safe ?

Giving your cat a bit of catnip or a catnip filled toy will surely cause both funny and a dramatic behavior in your cat. The can reactions range from rolling over on their back, zooming all over the place, licking the catnip and even rubbing it all over their face and body, and eventually lying down and purring.

What is catnip ?

Catnip (latin Nepeta cataria) is a type of plant that’s part of the mint family and grows naturally in eastern Europe and central Asia. But unlike regular mint, catnip has a chemical called nepetalactone that drives cats wild with excitement.

Does catnip really get cats high ?

Catnip’s aroma drives cats to lick and chew its flowers and leaves, sniff the plant, rub their bodies against the plant, roll around and drool. They sometimes even meow and growl at the same time after tasting and smelling the plant.

The cat’s reaction can end up being somewhat goofy, much like the elated and uncoordinated behavior of someone that has a bit too much to drink or is high under the influence of some recreational drugs.

Can cats actually get high from catnip ?

Yes, cats can actually get high from catnip, because is like a psychoactive drug for cats. They get high by breathing the nepetalactone, which stimulates neural receptors in the cat’s nose.

What exactly does catnip contain ?

Being a psychoactive drug, cats get high off of the chemical component called nepetalactone, which is found in the plant’s tiny bulbs. Scientific American states that these bulbs, and by extension the chemical, coat the leaves, stems and even seedpods of the catnip and when touch it prompts the bulbs to rupture and release the chemical.

Cats then inhale the essential oil nepetalactone which then binds to the receptors inside of the cat’s nose. Those receptors work together with sensory neurons in the cat’s brain.

It seems that this process changes the functioning of multiple brain regions in cats, such as the olfactory bulb, amygdala, and especially the hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulating their emotions. When exposed to the chemical nepetalactone, other brain areas also display an intoxicated response in cats, in addition to the hypothalamus.

When you first present catnip to your cat they may sniff it, rub their face in it, drool a little even, and roll in the plant. There are a few phases which the cat goes through, the first one being described as the craziest one where the cat may appear to be in a euphoric state. The cat may even look like it is in heat, according to Scientific American. “This response lasts for about 10 minutes, after which the cat becomes temporarily immune to catnip’s effects for roughly 30 minutes.”

All in all, catnip makes most if not all cats go crazy because they are in fact experiencing euphoria.

Can catnip cause hallucinations ?

As previously noted, catnip induces a euphoric state in cats, but it does not cause hallucinations.

Cats remain highly aware of their environment and seem to be more cheerful about everything surrounding them. Thus, there is no need to avoid giving catnip to your feline companion due to any perceived stigma. Because, fortunately, cats cannot develop a drug problem.

How much catnip is too much ?

You may be asking yourself, can too much catnip harm and/or ultimately kill a cat? Well, catnip being a natural essential oil, it does not contain anything that may harm your cat.

But, with all that said, there is such a thing as too much, even when it comes to catnip. Although catnip won’t do any real harm to your cat it can cause a stomachache if ingested in large amounts.

Is catnip safe for kittens ?

While catnip affects most cats, it will not have any effect on kittens, since catnip is only effective to cats who have started or already reached their maturity. This is due to the fact that catnip in a way mimics the cat’s own pheromones, so it causes a similar response to a female cat in heat because of this particular ability.

While catnip primarily affects female cats in a similar manner, male cats also enjoy the effects and benefits of catnip. As a result, most cats do not respond to catnip until they reach at least six months of age.

Does catnip have effect on dogs ?

While it isn’t dangerous to give to dogs, it does induce the opposite effect in dogs as opposed to cats. For example, catnip is considered a stimulant for cats, inducing a euphoric state that can last for about 10 minutes before it calms them down, for dogs however, it is more of a sedative than anything.

So, because of this ability to calm dogs down, people give it to dogs with anxiety, or even dogs that are afraid of loud noises like fireworks. A fool proof way of giving your dog catnip is by adding the leaves of the plant to their water, and if you prefer to use dried catnip you can add anywhere from an eighth to a half a teaspoon per pound of dog food.

It does have some other uses for dogs too! In addition to its psychoactive effects, catnip can also serve as a diuretic. Specifically, catnip oil has been shown to increase urination in dogs. Moreover, catnip can be used to alleviate various gastrointestinal issues, including gas, stomachaches, cramps, spasms, and diarrhea.

But, as always, before introducing something new to your dog, consult with your veterinarian first and foremost. As was previously established, animals can’t overdose on catnip, but too much of it can cause intestinal issues.

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