Why do cats like catnip?

**Why Do Cats Like Catnip?**

Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, is a member of the mint family that contains a chemical compound known as nepetalactone, which cats find appealing. When a cat encounters catnip, it often reacts with behaviors like rolling, rubbing, purring, leaping, and even drooling.

The reaction to catnip is thought to mimic feline pheromones and trigger those receptors. However, not all cats respond to catnip. Sensitivity to it is hereditary; about 70 to 80 percent of cats exhibit this behavior in the plant's presence.

The reaction to catnip can also be compared to the response to hallucinogenic drugs in humans. It provides a sort of "high," or euphoric response. This reaction usually lasts for about 10 minutes, after which the cat becomes temporarily immune to the effects of catnip for roughly 30 minutes.

**Where and How Can You Use Catnip?**

1. **Toys:** Many cat toys are filled with dried catnip to attract the cat's attention and encourage them to play. Some of these toys are refillable, allowing you to add fresh catnip when the scent starts to fade.

2. **Training:** Catnip can be used as a training aid. For example, if you want your cat to use a scratching post instead of your furniture, rubbing some catnip on the post can make it more attractive to them.

3. **Sprays:** Catnip can also be purchased in a spray form, which can be used to spritz onto toys, scratching posts, or cat beds to attract your cat.

4. **Plant:** If you have space in your yard, consider planting some catnip. It's relatively easy to grow, and having a fresh supply can be convenient. However, be aware that it may also attract other cats to your yard.

5. **Stress Relief:** Catnip can be a form of stress relief for some cats. The euphoric state it induces can help them relax and feel more comfortable, especially in new or stressful situations.

While catnip is generally safe, it's important to use it in moderation. Too much exposure can lead to mild gastrointestinal upset, and in some cases, excessive use can lead to a decreased response. Also, while rare, some cats may become aggressive when exposed to catnip. If your cat has never encountered catnip before, it's a good idea to introduce it slowly and monitor their reaction.