How Much Catnip Is Too Much?

Catnip makes your kitty go wild. Whether it comes in the form of a catnip plant or catnip toy, you can bet that as soon as your cat ingests it, she starts to have a very fun time. However, you’re wondering: Is there such a thing as too much catnip? How much catnip is too much? Is a lot safe? Or does it become harmful at a certain point?

By learning the answers to all your questions and discovering more information on how to use catnip, you can determine whether or not to give your kitty the stuff and figure out the amount of catnip that’s best for her.

All About Catnip

Catnip, also called nepeta cataria or catwort, is a perennial plant that’s a member of the mint family. It is native to Asia, Europe, and Africa. 

The nepetalactone, found in the stems and leaves of the catnip plant, mimics a feline pheromone. It causes the effects of catnip, like when cats become crazy for about 10 to 15 minutes after they eat it. They may purr, meow, rub against catnip, salivate, and shake their heads in response to ingesting it. 

All cats react differently. While one might run around the house after eating fresh or dried catnip, for example, another may sit in a pile of the dried herb and drool while its eyes are glazed over. There is a sedative effect for some cats as well. 

Domesticated and wild cats of all kinds, including big cats like leopards and cougars, react to the perennial herb. Cat catnip is not addictive, and kittens and older cats usually won’t respond to it.

Cat owners can get catnip in the form of catnip spray, dried catnip, catnip oil/essential oil, fresh catnip leaves, catnip toys, cookies, and catnip scratching posts. Pet owners can buy catnip in the pet store in one of these forms as well as grow catnip plants in their homes. 

Catnip plants grow 3’ to 5’ tall and bloom from fall to late spring. You can harvest the leaves during any season of the year, though. 

Since humans don’t possess the same receptors for nepetalactone that cats do, catnip will not affect them. It can also be used as an insect repellant, which will come in handy, especially during the summer. 

Is Too Much Is Dangerous?

how much catnip is too much

Is catnip safe? A cat overdose won’t happen if you give your kitty too much catnip. But, if your cat has too much of it, she may get sick. The catnip affects cats’ digestive systems, giving them upset stomachs. 

When giving your cat catnip, start with a pinch in the size of a quarter and see how she reacts. Then, you can work up from there.

Administering Catnip to Your Cat

woman with cat

There are some wellness best practices you should follow when administering catnip to your kitty. Make sure you use it as a treat for your cat, as opposed to making it her regular cat food. 

You can also use it for training your cat to do healthy things, like sleep in her cat bed – all you have to do is spray some catnip spray on it, and she’ll be drawn to it. You can also have a special catnip toy you let her play with.

It’s better to use fresh catnip as opposed to dried catnip. You can buy a fresh catnip plant in the pet store. Just note that this is an invasive species, so don’t plant it in your garden; simply put it in its own pot. If you want to grow your own, place it in an area where your cat can’t access it so she doesn’t accidentally have too much. 

After that initial 10 to 15 minute period with catnip, your cat may not be able to sense it again for a few hours, so keep that in mind. Additionally, if you have multiple cats, make sure there is enough to go around so that they don’t fight with each other over it.

There’s no hard and fast rule on how much you should give your cat for the first time. Just remember that if you give it to her too much, your cat’s brain will become desensitized to it, and things like her scratching post, cat toys, and cat bed will not be as fun for her anymore.

If you’d like to give your cat a catnip toy, check out the Chase Track Cat Toy. It includes a refill of catnip and will keep your cat engaged and excited, as well as help her develop positive play habits. Additionally, it’ll teach your cat to use her instinctive hunting habits like stalking and pouncing.

Another option is the Plaque Away Pretzel cat chew toy. This catnip toy will not only entice your cat, but it’ll also improve your cat’s dental health at the same time and promote positive chewing behavior.

Situations to Avoid

cat with catnip toy

Catnip works on adult cats, so avoid giving it to kittens and older cats. If your cat is aggressive and bullies other cats in your home, don’t give her any, either. Catnip causes some cats to become grumpy and fight with the other cats.

You may also notice that your cat isn’t interested in catnip. Don’t force it on her if she doesn’t react to it. Not all cats like it. 

Instead, you could try the catnip alternative silver vine. It could have a euphoric effect similar to catnip; your cat could start rolling around, licking things, and running around.

If you notice your cat is acting like she has an upset stomach, tell your veterinarian/DVM right away. They will be able to guide you on what to do to help your cat feel better.

Making Catnip a Fun Thing for Your Cat

catnip mouse cat chew toys. best toys for bored cats

Catnip is best administered in small doses not only for health reasons. It should be a treat instead of something you give your feline friend on a regular basis. Then, it’ll be that much more special and enjoyable for your cat when she earns it.

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