Catnip contains a chemical that generally causes an excited reaction in cats. Cats can become immune to it due to over-exposure; some are actually allergic. There are alternatives to using catnip in your local pet store and garden shop.
What Is Catnip?
Catnip is the name of an herb from the mint family. Cats respond to nepetalactone, a chemical found in this herb. Catnip looks like small, dried green plant buds.
Kittens under five months of age generally do not react to catnip. There are cats that have no reaction to catnip and some cats are allergic. Approximately 15 percent of cats will not respond to catnip.
When using catnip for the first few times, monitor your cat's response. In very rare cases, catnip can make a cat aggressive.
For cats that have a reaction, it is usually fun and exciting. Cats will roll over it, eat it, paw at it and go completely crazy over it. Eating catnip is safe for your cat.
Cats can acquire immunity to catnip if they become over-exposed to it.
Alternatives to Catnip
Honeysuckle is a catnip alternative that causes a greater reaction. When honeysuckle gets wet, its potency is elevated, leading to reactions in cats that may not otherwise respond to catnip. In addition, honeysuckle, unlike catnip, never loses its potency. Honeysuckle-stuffed toys are found in pet stores; however, resist the temptation to create your own toy. There are many different types of honeysuckle and some have berries that are poisonous to cats; the safer alternative is to buy a prepackaged toy instead of making your own.
Valerian roots, another alternative to catnip, acts much like honeysuckle; however, these roots are not available in pet stores. You can buy seeds for this plant at lawn and garden shops.
Lemongrass is a catnip alternative that will drive cats crazy, according to cat owners. This is another plant found in a garden shop.