But you may not know much about this herb, also known as catmint. The scientific name for catnip is Nepeta Cataria and it is a member of the mint family.
The catnip plant originated in Europe and was introduced to North America, where it now grows in 48 states (all states except Florida and Hawaii) according to the United States Department of Agriculture. I’m willing to bet there are some cat lovers in Florida and Hawaii with a container or garden filled with catnip – please leave a comment!
Who Can Eat Catnip?
Catnip is an herb and is edible by cats and humans, although it affects both differently. As cat owners know, catnip can send your cat into a frenzy of rolling, sniffing, purring, and playing that says I LOVE CATNIP! Luckily, catnip has a very low calorie count and can be given to your cat anytime (except before bedtime because it will rile your cats up!) When bedtime arrives, avoid giving catnip to your cat and give some to yourself…
In humans, catnip is calming. Catnip is available to humans as herbal supplement capsules and as tea. You can buy pure catnip tea, like Alvita’s Catnip Tea Bags (caffeine free and vegan!) or herbal tea blends that include catnip, such as Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer tea (caffeine free and Kosher!) Catnip is said to be a homeopathic remedy for anxiety, sleeplessness, and digestive upset in humans.
Grow Your Own Catnip
Catnip is a perennial plant that can grow to three feet tall and produces small purple flowers that bloom from July to September. Catnip is easy to grow in a pot or garden and has been described as having a weed-like quality, so you shouldn’t need a green thumb to successfully grow catnip. Plant catnip in full sun or partial shade.
Catnip produces an essential oil called nepetalactone, which is what gives catnip its scent and attracts cats. If cats can freely access your freshly growing catnip, they will likely trample or chew your catnip plant to death. Nepetalactone, catnip’s essential oil, has also been proven to be extremely repellent to mosquitoes. Another incentive for growing your own catnip on your porch or in your garden!
Pet stores sell dozens of catnip toys for your cat, or you can buy dried catnip and give it directly to your cat (a pinch or two will be plenty.) I’ve noticed that some of the catnip sold seems less potent, so I like to smell the catnip toy or container before I buy it. If I can smell the catnip my cat usually likes it better.
Catnip is a great treat to give your cat as a reward or just for fun!
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!