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Catnip -- Innocent Feline Treat or Illicit Substance?

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  • Catnip -- Innocent Feline Treat or Illicit Substance?

    Serious question. It had never occurred to me before, but a couple of weeks ago one of my cat friends saw the container of catnip in my kitchen cupboard and responded negatively. She said that giving a cat catnip is like sneaking acid into a friend's coffee or hash into their brownies The cat doesn't realize it's being given a mind- or at least mood-altering substance and can't control its reaction. I was surprised, but I respect this friend as a cat person so I thought I would post this here.

    I also mentioned it to one of my kitties' "aunties" and one of their "uncles" -- their uncle also has cats. Both agreed with my cat friend.

    So what do you all think about catnip? Serious answers, please.
    Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
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  • #2
    Oh heavens, I've never heard of such a thing. I suppose they would not like me at all then, seeing as how I'm growing some in my garden this year for my cat.

    I don't give my cat catnip often. She gets some at the vet's, as it has made her a little more tractable there, and I'm just fine with using some to modify her behavior such that we all get through the vet visit with as little drama as possible.

    Otherwise, I tend to use it when I bring home a new item (e.g., scratching post) I'd like her to know is hers, or I move things around. Today I moved her little cat tree downstairs and put it in front of a window, and I put a little homegrown catnip on the top platform.

    I'll be interested to see where this thread goes, as I would not really call myself a cat person. Our cat found us as a scrawny, skinny kitten and let us know she had no intention of leaving, thanks, so four years later, here she is.
    Full-time bargain hunter.


    • #3
      I used catnip as a drug for my godcat. When I needed to get mats out of his coat under his tail, I'd lace his scratch board with fresh catnip and wait 'til he passed out. No resistance to scissors. Much better experience for all concerned.

      I've never observed nor read of any ill effects from catnip (except to furniture or fine dishware that happens to meet a sky-high cat) so I would not consider supplying catnip to be a dreadful breach of the cat-person ethical arrangement.
      "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep." - Harry Dresden

      Amy's Stuff - Rustic chic and country linens and decor
      Support my mom! She's gotta finance her retirement horse somehow.


      • #4
        I am not a cat person either. I bought some catnip to try and get the cat to use the scratching post we bought, and she went wild rolling in the stuff, but never actually used the scratching post.
        The sofas and rugs must feel MUCH better to her claws *sigh*

        OneLaneRode, my husband once brought home, for obscure reasons, a catnip plant. It's now growing in a container in the backyard. The cat totally ignores it. What should I do with fresh catnip? Do you just offer the cat the fresh leaves? I have NO clue
        Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


        • #5
          Catnip is wonderful for cats, although some don't react to it, but most do.

          I "refresh" my cat's toys by stashing them in a container of high-quality catnip, rotating them through the container so he always has a fresh one to play with. I've had cats that liked to eat it, and it never caused a single problem.

          Here are a couple of links:

          Equus Keepus Brokus


          • #6
            Absolutely NOT harmful. They don't know why it works, really. It seems to activate smell receptors & causes a response that looks liks mating behavior, so it may smell like some pheromone.

            I don't like linking to Ask the Vet sites, but if you look at any of them, they tell you that it is harmless.


            I went to school with someone doing lynx studies. They bait camera trap areas with catnip, it has same effects on all felines (but within each species, some respond & some don't, just like domestics. I have never had a cat that didn't respond, though).


            • #7
              I just re-read OP. It sounds like your friend has some sort of moral objection to manipulating cat behavior? Is she also upset by getting them excited with a laser pointer, as if they chase it, they won't cat it or get dinner?

              Maybe it messes with cat's psyche. I can't say one way or the other, but it had no ill health effects.


              • #8
                Oh gosh to your friend id be a scumbag dealer!!! Hey the druggies aint complainin'
                Beyond the Ring-para dressage, training, coaching

                Proud Team Four Star Minion! Renegade for Life!


                • #9
                  I think that's a really interesting perspective and she is definitely allowed to have an opinion even if it differs from the norm. I too have never thought about it as a mind-altering substance but totally understand her perspective. So far my girl has never seemed to have a reaction but if she enjoyed it I would have no problem providing it in moderation.


                  • #10
                    Actually, it's much worse than you feared. Catnip makes cats feel sexy.

                    “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                    St. Padre Pio


                    • #11
                      I have to be careful when I give my cat catnip. Sometimes he gets rather aggressive if I reach down to pat him while he has his face in the catnip.

                      A fun video of cats and catnip:

                      The virtual "woodshed" seems the only remedy for willful fools .


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sophie View Post
                        OneLaneRode, my husband once brought home, for obscure reasons, a catnip plant. It's now growing in a container in the backyard. The cat totally ignores it. What should I do with fresh catnip? Do you just offer the cat the fresh leaves? I have NO clue
                        I've been drying mine and then crumbling it into a container. I have enormous amounts of it hanging up right now, drying. I will never need to buy it again!
                        Full-time bargain hunter.


                        • #13
                          My one cat rolls around in it while the other has no reaction to it.

                          Do I think it's illicit or forcing the cat into doing something against its will? Absolutely not -- I'm not forcibly smearing the stuff onto the cat's face and up its nose. I sprinkle some on the carpet and kitty blisses out for a bit.

                          I do far worse things to my cats (according to them) that are against their will -- trimming claws, brushing teeth, taking burs out of the longhair's coat, giving medicine, etc. Doping them up is probably welcomed.


                          • #14
                            My Ex used to say I was the Kitty Drug Pusher. For shame getting your cats stoned.
                            I actually grow my own organic! I find the neighbors cats in it.
                            I am going to market some at the Farmers market this summer!
                            If My cats will share!


                            • #15
                              BTW Some cats love it, some cats have no reaction. Young kittens have no desire for it. About 5 to 6 months some start liking it.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Hippolyta View Post
                                I just re-read OP. It sounds like your friend has some sort of moral objection to manipulating cat behavior? Is she also upset by getting them excited with a laser pointer, as if they chase it, they won't cat it or get dinner?

                                Maybe it messes with cat's psyche. I can't say one way or the other, but it had no ill health effects.
                                No, offering a cat catnip isn't analogous to slipping a rufie into a girl's drink at a bar. It's not for so many reasons..... the biggest of which is the cat's being a willing participant in getting high on the cat nip.

                                If you'll notice, a cat who has some experience with where you keep the container, but never any formal training about that seems quite trained to show up for the party.
                                The armchair saddler
                                Politically Pro-Cat


                                • #17
                                  Hehe, sorry we totally joke about Spike "going on the 'nip" and he surely does enjoy it. Funny thing to worry about (ETA: your friend worrying about it, not you)


                                  • #18
                                    I enjoy getting my cats high. It amuses everyone, including the cats. Guess I'm a pusher.

                                    I have fresh catnip growing in a pot in the backyard (I planted it years ago, and it reseeds like crazy; every year the original plant dies but I end up pulling a bunch of little seedlings from all my tomato pots and just stick them into a single pot). I just give each cat a leaf that I crumple up a little; they usually end up eating it and then flopping over for a while. I also will sometimes dry clumps of it and then give them the dried leaves, which generally get the really stoner reactions...
                                    "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

                                    Graphite/Pastel Portraits


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Originally posted by Hippolyta View Post
                                      I just re-read OP. It sounds like your friend has some sort of moral objection to manipulating cat behavior? Is she also upset by getting them excited with a laser pointer, as if they chase it, they won't cat it or get dinner?

                                      Maybe it messes with cat's psyche. I can't say one way or the other, but it had no ill health effects.
                                      I think it may be this--a moral objection. As with comparing it to illicit drugs slipped into people's food or drink. It did surprise me, but I do respect her opinion. And yes, she also objects to laser toys, on the grounds that the cats can neither catch nor eat the light.

                                      When she told me about the laser toys, several months ago, I immediately identified with her opinion, since I had felt the same way--guilty whenever I got out the laser toy. The poor kitties would pounce and grab and then ... Where's the fruitbat? was written all over their little faces. My kitties prefer chasing their treats, which they can both hunt and eat!

                                      I have one friend (not quite a cat person) who has a potted catnip plant for her kitty. She picks the leaves and gives them to the kitty, who sometimes rolls in them and sometimes ignores them. One of my kitties is a catnip junkie, the other can take it or leave it (and usually leaves it). Neither has been getting catnip lately as I simply have had no spare socks to bag-and-tie it in!
                                      Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
                                      People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
                                      "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique


                                      • #20
                                        Eh, I'm in its a drug to some. My cats liked the mint in the garden much more.
                                        I think catnip made my cats a little aggressive and hostile.