Did you know that catnip can be used to improve your cat's behavior? That is, if your cat is in the two thirds of the feline population which possess the inherited gene responsible for producing the classic feline reaction to catnip.
The ‘catnip effect’ is caused by a volatile oil in the stems and leaves containing the chemical Nepetalactone. This chemical appears to minimize a cat's inhibition. It creates a feeling of euphoria that can last about fifteen minutes. However, catnip is very safe for cats, with no side effects, and is not addictive at all. Overuse of catnip, though, can cause a cat to eventually become immune to the effects.
The “catnip effect"
When a responsive cat comes into contact with catnip, she will sniff it, lick it, roll in it, bite it and rub her head and chin against it repeatedly, purring, growling or meowing, and even leaping about. Many of these movements imitate those seen when a cat is in heat, leading to one theory that catnip is a female feline aphrodisiac. However, the fact that male and female cats react in the same way to catnip casts doubt on this.
Using catnip to improve behaviour problems
1. Catnip is excellent at relieving stress and tension. This makes it a very useful tool in dealing with stressful situations you may have to place your cat in. Examples of this would be taking your cat in the car with you, moving house, or perhaps having company in the house that frightens your kitty ( like small children when your pet is unused to them) Catnip will help in any situation where your cat is uneasy.
2. Catnip can be used to help a very timid or frightened cat become more confident. You may be bringing home a new cat which you have just bought that is timid or perhaps have rescued a scared one from a cat rescue shelter. Catnip will almost always help them to react in a more positive and friendly way. It will be easier to get them to play with you which is a great start to making them feel at home with you and less anxious.
3. Catnip can make even the laziest of cats jump and play, so if you are trying to encourage a cat to play more and be more active, (perhaps after an illness) try some toys containing catnip. Cat toys containing fresh catnip are more effective than ones which have been around for a while. The fresher the catnip, the more the reaction.
4. If you have more than one cat in your home be careful not to introduce catnip to them all at the same time. Some males may have a tendency to cross the line from friendly play to dominant aggression while they are under the influence of catnip. By keeping them separated, you can assess the effects of catnip on each one and avoid any possible confrontations. If they react in a friendly manner, then they can all play with catnip together.
To conclude, remember not to overuse catnip or the effects will eventually diminish as your kitty becomes immune. Catnip is easy to grow, so use fresh catnip in catnip toys as much as possible. Although, even after a catnip toy has lost the catnip odour cats will still play with them, but more from habit. Catnip is a herb which is harmless and non-addictive to cats, both wild and domesticated.
For more tips on improving a cats behavior with catnip , visit All About Cat Care at http://www.all-about-cat-care.com