The Benefits of Catnip for Cats and How to Grow It Yourself
As a cat owner, you’re probably familiar with catnip and how it makes your cat go bonkers. It’s really entertaining to watch! But besides the fun factor, did you know that catnip has actual health benefits for your cat? Plus, you can easily grow it yourself so you can have a steady supply for your feline friend!
What Are the Health Benefits of Catnip?
Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats who show a passive response to catnip. Instead of your kitty acting hyper, your cat will be more subdued and will hang out in a sphinx position.
This can be particularly helpful for cats who are prone to nervousness or who have recently experienced a change in their environment, such as a new pet or a recent move.
If your cat has this type of relaxed response to catnip, try sprinkling some in their carrier next time you’re going to the vet.
When pairing play with catnip, cats with an active response become more active and hyper. This can be a great way to encourage exercise and movement, which is important for their overall health and well-being. If your cat needs a bit more fun in their playtime and seems bored, adding in some catnip is a great way to spice things up.
Sharing catnip with your cat can be a bonding experience for the two of you to share together. Cats often associate the smell of catnip with positive experiences and offering it to your cat can help build trust and strengthen your relationship. You can use catnip as a reward for good behavior or to spend quality time with your furry friend. It’s a win-win.
Keep in mind: Not all cats respond to catnip. This is because the sensitivity to nepetalactone is inherited, and some cats simply don’t have the genes that make them sensitive to it. But that’s okay, they don’t know what they’re missing out on! Kittens under six months old and senior cats are also less likely to respond to catnip.
How to Grow Your Own Catnip
If you’re interested in growing your own catnip at home, here are some tips to help you get started:
- Choose the Right Spot: Catnip thrives in well-draining soil and full sunlight. Choose a spot in your garden or on your patio that gets plenty of sun and has good drainage. You can also grow catnip indoors if you have a sunny window that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day.
- Plant the Seeds: Catnip can be grown from seeds or purchased as a seedling from your local nursery or pet store. If you’re planting from seeds, sprinkle them on top of the soil and cover with a thin layer of soil. Water the soil well after planting and keep it moist, but not drenched.
- Water Regularly: Catnip plants require regular watering to keep the soil moist. Be careful not to overwater. Water the plant every few days or whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.
- Harvest: Once the plant is grown, you can begin harvesting the leaves for your cat to enjoy. Cut the stems just above a leaf node, and let the leaves dry in a cool, dark place for a few days before offering them to your cat. You can also dry the leaves in a dehydrator or in the oven on low heat.
Catnip is a natural and safe way to provide your cat with fun and active play, with several benefits for their health and well-being. Growing catnip at home is an easy way to make sure that your furry friend always has a fresh supply of this potent plant. Whether you’re using catnip to reduce your cat’s stress levels, encourage exercise and play, or strengthen your bond, it’s a great addition to any cat caretaker’s toolkit.