Catmint is often seen as a stimulant for cats, and it is! If you’ve ever seen cats on catnip, you’ll know all too well that they just go crazy, becoming playful, loving and even more confident. However is there more to Nepeta Cataria (catnip), than simply fun? Absolutely!
What many pet owners don’t realise is that catmint can really help boost your cats’ health, making them look and feel, better than ever before. Want a happy kitty? Use catnip!
There are many properties of the catnip plant, one of the most prominent being a mild sedative effect, which while not strong enough to significantly affect humans, can have huge effects on cats.
Feline stress is actually quite common amongst cats. They’re odd little things and they like familiarity and routine (which you’ve probably noticed if you’re 5 minutes late putting their food down!). As soon as this routine is interrupted, it makes them anxious – in the same way that we become a bit on edge when something in our life changes. However, whereas we have coping methods, such as pouring a glass of wine, running a hot bubble bath, or listening to some music, cats don’t have such options.
As a reaction to stress, cats can shed their fur, leading to vulnerability to skin infections, they can spray and mark their territory around the house (this is remarkably common when a new baby comes along and ‘threatens’ the hierarchy) and they can actually stop grooming themselves in extreme conditions, which is horrible for them (imagine not bathing for a week – you wouldn’t feel too good either!).
The sedative effects of catnip can really help calm cats down, reducing the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression, and catnip is actually highly recommended for use in cat shelters to help make cats more relaxed in an unfamiliar setting.
Pardon You, Kitty!
One of the more unpleasant side effects of feline stress for you is your kitty’s stomach troubles. You know when you get anxious and you start to feel a bit bloated? Well cats get that too and the results are… smelly! For such small little animals, cat gas is remarkably potent. Catnip relaxes the muscles when they’re in a tense state, which can prevent or treat upset stomachs which can encourage flatulence. It’ll make your cat feel so much better, and your nose will thank you!
A Nice Long Soak
If you notice your feline friend is scratching a bit more than normal, biting its fur, shedding more than normal, or just seems a bit uncomfortable in their own skin, it’s important to get them checked out, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to ease their discomfort in the meantime.
Creating a ‘tea bath’ for your cat can soothe skin conditions, as the plant has been found to work wonders in an inflammatory capacity when applied topically (both in cats and in humans!). To make up a tea bath, run a lukewarm bath as normal and dissolve one tablespoon of loose catnip into a mug of boiling water. Add this to the bath and wait for your cat to catch a smell of the almost addictive aroma – they’ll come running in no time. Even if your cats aren’t too fond of baths (and, let’s face it, not many of them are), the catnip will help relax them and make them more amenable to getting wet.
Have you ever noticed your cats just seem generally happier when they’ve got a new catnip toy? It’s not only because they enjoy the smells of the herb, but also because it physically makes them feel better. Try adding a small amount of catnip to the cat box the next time you take your cat for vaccinations and see if you notice a difference in their behaviour.