Cat 101 - Catnip, the"high" truth

Health, last updated 13th, Jun 2017, Neha Manchanda


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What is Catnip?
With a scientific classification of Nepeta Cataria, Catnip is a common herb and is considered to be a relative of Oregano and Spearmint. The scientific and active molecule of catnip or Nepeta Cataria is nepetalactone which is known to imitate a cat pheromone by binding to a cat’s olfactory / smelling receptors and producing different types of emotional and behavioral responses.

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Catnip is also known by other names such as catmint, catwort, field balm and has been researched by scientists all over the world to understand why cats – big or small – are in love with this fragrant plant.

Origin and appearance

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Catnip is known to have originated in Europe and Asia and then taken to other countries by explorers and enthusiasts. Though there are over 250 known varieties of Catnip, the most common ones are:

  • Common catnip
  • Camphor catnip
  • Lemon catnip
  • Greek catnip
  • Catmint

Catnip has oval tooth – shaped leaves and smells faintly of mint. They also have beautiful violet flowers.

Catnip has an interesting history attached to it. In the early 1400’s Europeans regularly drank tea made from catnip. Catnip is a member of the mint family and the tea brewed with catnip has a flavor and fragrance similar to mint tea.

In the 1960’s smoking catnip became popular as an alternative to smoking marijuana. When smoked, catnip produces a low level high complete with audio – visual hallucinations and a relaxed feeling. Since it costs much less than marijuana, it gained popularity real fast.

Uses of catnip
Catnip has many medicinal uses and has been used to treat:

  • Indigestion – any signs of indigestion such as intestinal cramps, indigestion, diarrhea and colic can be treated with catnip
  • Catnip is known to cause sweating
  • It is also used to induce menstruation
  • Many have used catnip as a sedative
  • Catnip also increases appetite
  • The mint like properties is also helpful in treating common cold, headaches and toothache.
  • It is suitable for those with insomnia
  • Other uses include:
    • Scarlet fever treatment
    • Cough and cold
    • Antibiotic / anti – rheumatic / antispasmodic
    • Astringent
    • Treatment of muscle aches and pains
    • Anaesthetic
    • Diuretic
    • Treatment of rheumatism and hemorrhoids
    • Insect repellant

Culinary uses of catnip include:

  • Flavouring for salads, soups, stewsm sauces
  • Brewing of tea

Effects of catnip

Cat nip 5The effects of catnip vary from cat to cat. While some pet parent say that the cats become very happy and peaceful, others show signs of aggression.

Catnip’s allure is present in it’s oil in the form of nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is found in the leaves, stems and seeds on one or two sniff of the oil can lead to feline bliss. Though the effect is intense, it is often short lived and may last from 10 – 15 minutes.

How catnip is being used in present days?
Scientists and pet experts have understood the importance of catnip and how it can be used to keep cats busy throughout the day. Leading pet product and toy manufacturers have developed toys and accessories that have catnip fragrance in them which keeps the cats curious, happy and engaged while you can complete your chores for the day!

Catnip a day keep your cats happy at play!

Source;The healthy honeys, Catnipsum

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"An ardent writer, a devoted pet parent and a foodie at heart, I believe life is all about new experiences and expressions"

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