What’s the Deal with Catnip?


a cat enjoying catnip

Hello everyone, my name is Dottie & I’m a cat. I’m the chief cat toy tester here at Knotty Toys for Good Dogs. CEO Olivia has asked me to guest write today’s post because today is National Cat Day & frankly, she knows very little about catnip.

Catnip is a member of the mint family of plants. It’s stem & leaves contain a chemical called nepetalactone which we cats find very stimulating. This goes for every species of cat, we all enjoy it’s effects. However, about 20% of cats have zero interest. No one is sure why this is. It also doesn’t seem to hold any interest to kittens until they have matured sexually.

But what does it do to us you ask? Let me get scientific for a moment. Nepetalactone, catnip’s volatile oil, enters the cat’s nasal tissue, where it is believed to bind to protein receptors that stimulate sensory neurons. These cells, in turn, provoke a response in neurons in the olfactory bulb, which project to several brain regions including the amygdala (it mediates emotional responses to stimuli) & the hypothalamus, the brain’s “master gland” that plays a role in regulating everything from hunger to emotions.

In plain words, it gives us a temporary state of euphoria followed by a sense of calmness. The effects last about 30 minutes & if we are exposed to more right after it will be less intense. The best part is there doesn’t appear to be any negative health effects.

So there you go. HuMom just harvested a huge bag of catnip from the garden. It will be used in our upcoming soft toys for cats. But Jerry & I get to indulge ourselves if we ask nice.

As I mentioned above, today is National Cat Day, so go get your favorite feline some catnip & celebrate.

Dottie – chief cat toy tester