Ask an Expert: Catnip and Cats | Hastings Veterinary Clinic

Ask an Expert: Catnip and Cats

Q: What is catnip? Is it safe?

A: Catnip is a natural feline attractant of plant origin, called Nepetalactone. It is a mild hallucinogen for cats, and provides a feeling of enjoyment to most cats.

The usual behaviors seen are rubbing on the plant (or toy containing catnip), licking at it, rolling and simply, being happy for 10-15 minutes. Even wild cats (tigers, leopards, etc.) are known to exhibit a similar feeling of enjoyment when exposed to catnip.

Catnip is safe for cats. Although cats will refuse it once they have had enough, I recommend exposing your cat to it sparingly – once a week is usually a good idea.