5 unique ways to use catnip

Catnip is a beneficial herb that cats love! Here are five ways you can use it around the house to promote your feline companion’s health and happiness.

When we think of cat toys, many of us immediately think of catnip. Catnip mice, catnip birds, catnip balls – the list goes on!

In addition to play, there are a variety of ways to utilize the effects of catnip. It can be used as a positive reinforcement reward for behavioral training and for emotional support. A lethargic cat may be perked up and entertained with catnip toys just as a nervous cat may be calmed and comforted. This aromatic herb can often help anxious cats transition to a new home and assist with cat-person bonding and integration among felines if they are not excessively competitive.

Here are a few ways you can integrate the benefits of this herb around your home:

1. Scratching posts

If your cat ignores her post, potent catnip sprinkled at the base and along the sides could assist to develop a scratching habit where scratching is acceptable.

2. Litter boxes

Cats reluctant or resistant to using a litterbox may be persuaded if an appealing scent (catnip) is added to the litter. Be sure to use sparsely as the cat should not actually eat the litter!

3. Introducing cat furniture, such as cat beds

Recognition of something familiar and enticing (like catnip) will help your cat realize this new luxury item is his or hers.

4. Encouraging exercise

Catnip is capable of inspiring leaping and dashing in otherwise inactive felines.

5. Socializing

Aloof, shy, aggressive, and/or traumatized cats may be more accepting of human friends with a peace offering. Additionally, cats experiencing integration difficulties may be disrupted from their hissing, growling, and posturing with a soothing distraction.

Catnip offers medicinal benefits

Catnip also has medicinal advantages. Elizabeh Whiter and Dr. Rohini Satish, authors of You Can Heal Your Pet (Hay House, 2015), advocate the herb as a “calming agent and anti-spasmodic, easing tummy upset and acting as a sedative… and as a feline euphoric at the same time (63).”

For an especially healing herb, you can try growing your own to ensure it’s not sprayed with any toxic chemicals.

A word of warning

Do keep in mind that kitties react to catnip, a member of the mint family, in a variety of ways – too much of a good thing may be a problem. While the nepetalactone chemical of the plant sometimes acts as a sedative, causing drowsiness and sleepy tranquility, it may also act as a stimulant, causing frenzied play and maybe heightened aggression. Several cat experts also warn that excessively ingested catnip can cause an adverse response resulting in stomach upset.

Observe your cat’s reaction to understand how best to employ it to her advantage. Catnip is best used under supervision (especially if multiple cats or children are involved).