The other night, around midnight, I was lying in bed trying to sleep when I felt something small and furry jump on me and run across the bed, drop to the floor, race across the room, only to complete this cycle again, again, and again. Finally, after 15 minutes of this nonsense, I turn on my light and see my wide-eyed cat, Libby, ready to play.
“It’s midnight, Libby. It’s time for bed,” I plead with her.
She just stares back at me, then jumps back on the bed, to the floor, races across the room, and starts her route again. Libby is not normally a crazy cat, but I do sprinkle catnip on her toys, and when I do, she clearly entertains herself for hours, no matter if it is 8 AM or midnight.
Catnip, a perennial herb, comes from the mint family and attracts felines near and far. They love the chemical compound, nepetalactone, found in the leaves and stems of the plant. The compound serves as a stimulant (usually), but when sniffed by your cat, it can produce both euphoria and calmness, making them excited and relaxed.
One thing to note is not all catnip blends out there are worth buying for your cat. It’s important to pick one with natural ingredients and no additives, which is why we are presenting you with our top four recommendations!
Best Catnip For Cats
1. Yeowww! Organic Catnip
Our top choice is Yeowww! Organic Catnip, and here’s why: it comes from farmers that harvest the best organically grown catnip you can find. The signature blend of leaves and flower tops ensures this catnip is fresh with no added chemicals. Their catch-phrase is “catnip that actually works,” which, it does!
Here are the details of this unique blend of catnip:
- 100% organically grown with no chemicals or pesticides
- A top-quality blend of leaf and flower tops for optimum strength
- Strong, appealing aroma
- Comes in a resealable bag (1-oz) or tub (2-oz) to guarantee freshness
- Catnip is finely chopped with no sticks or large buds
- Can be given to your cat loose, in a toy, or sprinkled on a scratching post
- Appealing for even the pickiest cats
- Made in the U.S.A
Customer reviews validate our reasons why Yeowww! Organic Catnip is the best out there. They repeatedly rave about how much their cats love this product; some “can’t get enough!” The company recommends using this blend only with adult cats; you can sprinkle it on their favorite toys or even add a small pinch to their food.
With its fresh blend of top-notch ingredients and offered at a competitive price, Yeowww! Organic Catnip is worth checking out!
2. Cat Kush Organic Catnip
Cat Kush Organic Catnip, like Yeowww! Organic Catnip, is 100% organic and made with no preservatives or artificial ingredients. This catnip is planted, grown, and harvested at the peak of the season, ensuring the best quality and known for its potency. Check everything that Cat Kush has to offer:
- 100% natural and organic with no preservatives
- Harvested and grown in peak season, ensuring the best quality
- The unique extract and herb blend lasts longer than many of its competitors
- Added essential oils for a relaxing effect
- Delicious, enticing aroma
- Works well for cats with gastrointestinal issues because of its extra fiber and soothing herbal blend
- Comes in an air-tight container of either one cup, three cups, or 10 cups.
- Made in the U.S.A
One thing that sets Cat Kush apart is its freshness. Because it is harvested at the peak of the plant’s growth, this catnip is fresher and lasts longer than most of its competitors. Also, the air-tight container ensures that your catnip will stay fresh. The added essential oils will lure your kitty into a relaxing state. Cat Kush customers repeatedly state that this catnip works well for kitties with stomach issues. For optimal use, sprinkle Cat Kush on your cat’s toy, bed, or scratching post.
3. KONG – Naturals Catnip Spray for Cats
Catnip comes in all shapes and forms, including oil that comes in an easy to use spray. KONG – Naturals Catnip Spray is made with concentrated catnip oil that is steam-distilled from the best North American catnip. KONG states that this product is designed to “appeal to the natural instincts of the indoor cat, providing fun with a purpose.”
Here’s why we love KONG – Naturals Catnip Spray:
- Highly potent, delicious aroma
- Natural ingredients from renewable resources, including distilled water
- No mess squirt bottle for easy application
- You can use to soothe your cat, like on trips to the vet
- Spray on toys, scratchers, and cat condos
- Available in a one-ounce spray bottle
- Made in the U.S.A.
- Satisfaction guaranteed through the company, KONG
One thing to keep in mind with this spray is that while it’s only an ounce, it’s very potent. A little goes a long way! You can use this spray as a training aid to direct cats to a new scratching post (rather than your couch!) Many customers state they use this spray to direct their cat’s attention someplace where they can play and scratch to their heart’s desire. Another plus to this product is there’s no mess!
4. SmartyKat Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toy
Cats love three things: mice, strings, and catnip. SmartyKat Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toy has all three! This furry mouse toy is soft, includes a twisted rope tail, and is spiked with potent catnip for hours of fun and entertainment. Even better, this pack comes with three mice, because as well know, it’s just too easy to lose mice toys under the couch.
Here are the key benefits of the SmartyKat Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toy:
- Furry mouse has a soft texture that attracts cat’s teeth and claws
- Twisted rope tail is perfect for chasing
- Spiked with potent 100 % certified organic catnip to provide your cat fun and exercise
- Perfect size for adult cats’ playtime (3 x 1 x 1 inch)
- Pack of three mice for multiple cats or in case some get lost
- SmartyKat products are made to meet child safety hazards, meaning they don’t contain small parts, long cords, or other hazards
The company, SmartyKat works to create cat products that are eco-friendly, affordable, and physically, emotionally, and instinctually stimulating to your cat. One other thing we love about these mice toys: they DON’T squeak!
Catnip 101 and Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Catnip?
Catnip is a chemical compound found inside of the leaves and stems of an herb, called nepetalactone, that stimulates a strong response from cats when it is inhaled. Also known as catswort and catmint, catnip comes from the mint family and has a minty fragrance. It has a square stem and brown-green foliage. Its leaves are heart-shaped, and it produces a white or purple flower.
What does Catnip Do To Cats?
While catnip affects some cats more than others, it generally acts as a stimulant when it is inhaled by cats. When the nepetalactone passes through your cat’s nasal tissues, it then creates chemical reactions in the brain linked to a hallucinogenic effect and behavioral responses.
Simply put, it makes them happy and more playful. It can also help them relax (think, vet trips!) or lessen anxiety when they are introduced to other cats.
Common reactions to catnip are:
- Running around
- Rolling around
- Rubbing up against objects, like a chair
- Increased playfulness
- Sniffing, licking, chewing, and rolling in the catnip
The effects last around 5-15 minutes until the cat becomes relaxed, and it’s nap time again!
If cats actually eat the herb, it acts as a sedative, and they become tired and maybe hungry. It’s not harmful for a cat to eat catnip, but it may not produce the effect you’re looking for.
Research shows that approximately 75% of cats react to catnip, while the other 25% produce no effect towards it at all. Also, kittens do not generally react to catnip; cats aren’t affected by this herb until they are around six months old.
Is Catnip Bad For Cats?
Most cats don’t act like their normal selves when on catnip, which is why some people have asked if catnip is bad for cats. Some experts say that catnip has a similar effect to marijuana in cats, which is why cats sometimes act “high.”
While this is a legitimate concern, research repeatedly has shown that catnip is safe for your cat. The effects only last five to fifteen minutes, and after this, most cats will feel tired and take a nap.
Research has shown that catnip is safe for your cat, even if they eat some of it; however, if they eat too much, they may get an upset stomach, but there are no long-term effects. There is nothing in catnip that is harmful to cats.
Do note that if you give your cat too much catnip, he will become immune to its effects. Again, it’s not harmful, but a good rule of thumb is to give your cat this herb no more than once a day. Two to three times a week is ideal.
Tips For Choosing the Right Catnip
You can buy catnip at most major retailers and all pet stores; however, how do you know you’re selecting a quality catnip that your cat will enjoy? First, be aware that not all brands and varieties are the same. Here are the four basic ways catnip can be purchased (or found in the wild!) and used:
- Fresh Catnip
Fresh catnip is the best! You can buy catnip, of course, but you can also go find your own. Catnip grows and spreads quickly and thrives in sandy or gravel-laden soil, usually in fields or open meadows, along fences and old houses, near streams or railroad tracks. Catnip is grayish-green with jagged, heart-shaped leaves and thick stems that are covered in fuzz. When catnip blooms, the flowers are in large clusters and look like little tubular mouths. They are either a bright white or purple color.
If you see some, clip the plants above the ground, and it will keep growing back. Make sure that you don’t take catnip from places that have been treated with herbicides or pesticides.
Growing your own catnip is also easy. You should be able to purchase the plant from your local garden center or from a seed. It takes light, sandy soil and full sun. Keep it well watered, and as the plant grows, you can pinch out the top growths to promote more growth.
- Loose, Dried Catnip
Dried catnip is the most common kind you will find available to purchase. You won’t need to give your cat much; just rub the catnip between your fingers to release the oil or sprinkle it where you want your cat to play. Our number one and two recommendations are great options for dried catnip.
- Catnip Spray
Catnip spray is catnip oil combined with water that creates a potent, fragrant spray (See our number three recommendation!). Using a catnip spray is convenient and mess-free. You can spray your cat’s toys, bed, scratching posts, etc.
- Catnip Toys
Catnip filled toys are fun for cats, such as our number four recommendation. Cats love to play, so giving your cat a toy with catnip is extra exciting for most cats. These toys are packed with dried catnip to stimulate your cat’s natural play instinct. You can also choose a refillable toy that will last for a while.
- Freshness and Potency
The two main things to look for in catnip are freshness and potency. Quality preparation and packaging are vital to ensure that catnip is fresh and potent. The leaves and flowers of the plant have the most essential oils, so when looking for catnip, look for products that are made with these parts. Low-quality catnip will be made with stems and seeds.
Air-tight packaging is best. Also, check expiration dates, since potency decreases with time on the shelf. Also, 100% organic is better than not, because of the risks of chemical pesticides. Some companies will advertise their catnip as “all natural,” but it’s important to research the product and customer reviews, to make sure it is truly all-natural.
How Do I Store Catnip to Keep it Fresh?
Most dried catnip should last around six months before it starts losing its potency. A key is to smell it. If it still has its aroma, it’s still good. When it loses its’ smell, it loses its’ potency too. Make sure you store catnip in an air-tight container for best results, including cat toys.
If you are using fresh catnip, you can put the herbs in a Ziplock bag and refrigerate them to keep them as fresh as possible.
Tips for Using Catnip
There are many reasons and ways to give your cat catnip. Some common reasons to use catnip are stress relief, behavioral tools, and fun! Cats get stressed, especially when they are out of their routine or familiar environment. Consider giving your cat catnip to reduce stress when you are going to a vet appointment or traveling.
Catnip is also an excellent training tool for your cat. If you have a cat (which I am assuming you have at least one, if you are reading this!), then you know that cats are not exactly easy to train. However, with catnip, you can train your cat to stop scratching the kitchen table by sprinkling the herb somewhere she is free to scratch, like a post or cat house.
Cats typically love catnip! You can give it to your cat a few times a week, just for fun!
What are the best ways to give your cat catnip? Here are a few suggestions:
- If your cat already has a toy she likes, you can sprinkle a little catnip on it.
- You can grow it in a pot and keep it near a window where your cat can nibble on it.
- You can sprinkle a pinch or two on the floor for your cat.
- Sprinkle it where your cat likes to play, whether it is a cat post, tower, bed, etc.
- You can add a few pinches to the inside of a sock and tie it, so your cat can play.
- Experts suggest sprinkling catnip in a pet carrier when you need to go somewhere with your cat.
- Make sure not to give your cat catnip in large quantities, which will lead to a tranquilizing effect.
So here is what we have established today: catnip is safe for cats. Catnip is fun for cats.
When looking for a catnip, the fresher, the better! Don’t give your cat too much catnip, or she will become immune to its effects, and it may cause an upset stomach.
I also suggest not giving your cat catnip before you go to bed, so you won’t have a situation like I did with a cat flying over your body and running hysterically through the bedroom. (In my defense, I did not knowingly give my Libby catnip right before I went to bed; I had put it in one of her toys, and she just so happened to “find” her long-lost toy in the closet around midnight. Needless to say, I now reserve her catnip-filled toys for day time only.)