Catnip Benefits & Growing Guide

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Orange tabby cat wearing a cool pair of sunglasses - maybe having just eaten some catnip!

If you’re a cat owner, you’re probably familiar with the entertaining effects of catnip on your feline friend. But did you know that catnip offers more than just amusement? It actually has health benefits for your cat! And, you can easily grow it yourself to ensure a steady supply without breaking the bank!

Health Benefits of Catnip:

Stress Relief: Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats that respond passively to it. Instead of your cat becoming hyperactive, they will become more relaxed, often assuming a sphinx position. This can be especially helpful for cats prone to nervousness or those experiencing changes in their environment, such as the introduction of a new pet or a recent move. If your cat has a calm response, consider sprinkling some in their carrier before a trip to the vet.

Exercise: For cats that have an active response to catnip, pairing it with playtime can lead to increased activity levels and playfulness. This is beneficial for their overall health and well-being, as regular exercise is important for cats. If your cat needs an extra dose of fun during playtime or seems bored, adding catnip to the mix can spice things up and encourage more movement.

Bonding: Sharing catnip with your cat can create a bonding experience for both of you. Cats often associate the smell 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 simply spend quality time with your furry friend. It’s a win-win situation.

It’s important to note that not all cats respond to catnip. This is because sensitivity to nepetalactone is inherited, and some cats lack the genes that make them sensitive to it. But that’s perfectly fine—they are not aware of what they’re missing out on! Additionally, kittens under six months old and senior cats are less likely to respond.

Cat sniffing and about to eat a catnip plant outside of their home
Somebody found the catnip plant!

Growing your own catnip:

Choose the Right Spot: Catnip thrives in well-draining soil and full sunlight. Select a sunny spot in your garden or on your patio that has good drainage. If you have a sunny window receiving at least six hours of sunlight per day, you can also grow it indoors.

Plant the Seeds: You can grow catnip from seeds or purchase seedlings from a local nursery or pet store. If using seeds, sprinkle them on top of the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Water the soil well after planting and keep it moist, but avoid overwatering.

Regular Watering: Catnip plants require regular watering to keep the soil moist. Water the plant every few days or whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Be cautious not to overwater, as excessive moisture can be detrimental.

Harvest: Once your catnip plant has grown, you can start harvesting the leaves for your cat to enjoy. Cut stems just above leaf nodes and allow leaves to dry in a cool, dark place for a few days. Alternatively, you can use a dehydrator or dry the leaves in the oven on low heat.

Catnip is a wonderful addition to any cat caretaker’s toolkit, providing a natural and safe way to enhance your cat’s playtime and overall well-being. By harnessing the benefits of catnip, you can reduce your cat’s stress, encourage exercise and activity, and deepen the bond between you and your furry companion. Growing your own at home is a rewarding and simple endeavor, ensuring a fresh and readily available supply of this remarkable plant. Embrace the joy of watching your cat enjoy the benefits of catnip, and cherish the special moments you share together.

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