10 Things to Know Before Giving Your Cat Catnip - Pet Hub USA

10 Things to Know Before Giving Your Cat Catnip

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Catnip is a plant that causes behavior changes in cats, making them excitable and sometimes even sleepy. You can give it directly to your cats as a treat or add it to their toys to enhance playtime. However, there are ten things you should know about catnip before giving it to your cat!

What Does it Do?

a cat sitting on the ground with its tongue out
Photo by Dino Januarsa on Unsplash

Catnip is a cousin of mint that has some interesting effects on cats. It can help some cats relax, while it makes others briefly hyperactive. The effects depend on the cat! In small doses, it can be a fun treat or a way to reward your kitty.

How do They React to it?

a close up of a cat with a surprised look on its face
Photo by Fernando Vega on Unsplash

Some cat owners might notice their pets simply lying in a pile of dried catnip. Others will become hyperactive after smelling the plant, running around the house, and playing with their toys with high intensity. Thankfully, it’s non-addictive, so feel free to give your cat some every now and then.

As a Treat

person feeding white and black cat
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

When given as a treat, catnip can help you practice positive reinforcement. Cats love getting catnip sprinkled on their toys, their perches, or even in with their food. Some cats won’t eat it, but instead will simply enjoy smelling it. Others will gobble it up like they would a piece of food!

Small Doses

orange tabby cat sleeping on white pet bed
Photo by Aleksandar Cvetanovic on Unsplash

Make sure you give your cats catnip in small doses. Too high of a dose can make them resistant to the effects of the plant. Generally, try to give them a little bit of catnip roughly once per week for the best effect. Any more than that and they might develop too high of a tolerance to enjoy it.

In Products

brown and black cat
Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash

Some toys or treats are already imbued with catnip straight from the manufacturer. If you have a toy or treat that contains catnip, make sure your kitties enjoy it in small doses. Let them eat one of the treats or play with the toy roughly once per week. Keep catnip toy playtime limited to about fifteen minutes.

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As a Plant

A catnip plant pictured at sunset
At sunset – Catnip II” by A_Peach is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You can also give your cats dried catnip as a treat. While some cats like to eat this plant, others just roll around in it and enjoy the smell. Either way, make sure you limit exposure to around 15 minutes and clean up the area thoroughly once catnip time is over.

Aggressive Cats

orange and white tabby cat on snow covered ground during daytime
Photo by Rasmus Jarborg on Unsplash

Avoid giving catnip to aggressive kitties. Some cats with behavioral issues will act in an uninhibited manner when under the effects of catnip. This can render much of your training useless and can cause issues like biting, scratching, or accidents outside the litter box.

Too Much

brown tabby cat lying on brown wooden floor
Photo by Elisa Kennemer on Unsplash

Don’t give your cats too much catnip. If they’re exposed to too much of the plant or are exposed to it for too long, they can build up a tolerance to it. It can always be unpleasant for them to smell too much catnip at once, overwhelming their senses and making them feel anxious.

Some Cats Don’t Like it

white bear plush toy beside brown tabby cat
Photo by Nikola Bacanek on Unsplash

Some cats aren’t as fond of catnip as others. If your pet isn’t showing signs of interest in the plant, don’t try to force them to smell it or eat it. Just remove the plant from the area and let them try it again sometime. Some cats just never like catnip, and that’s okay! There are plenty of other treats you can get them.


a gray cat with a pink collar looking up
Photo by Luke Jones on Unsplash

Don’t forget to safely store your catnip in a way that will keep it fresh and out of your pets’ reach. Freeze-dried, sealed bags are ideal for this. Keeping the catnip in a drawer or some other container that cats can’t open is also a good idea!

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