Crazy for Catnip?

Is your cat crazy for catnip? When she gets some catnip does she start frolicking around the room and displaying behavior that is normally too "undignified" for a cat?

Well, according to Pet Place most cats (70 to 90 percent) are likely to exhibit at least some reaction to catnip, which is an herbal relative of the mint family. Even the housecat's super-sized cousins (lions, pumas and leopards) get turned on by it.

Some cats get whacky when they smell the stuff - licking, meowing and rolling around. Other cats don't get the same kind of buzz. And a few show absolutely no interest in catnip at all. Cats of reproductive age tend to enjoy it more than older or younger cats, while kittens under 8 weeks of age and cats that are fearful or stressed may avoid it altogether.

Scientists aren't sure what causes the "catnip reaction" but most kitties have a blast when they're around it. The fun usually lasts anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. But after the frolicking is over, most cats won't respond to catnip again for at least another hour.

Many people buy catnip toys for their kitties. Some catnip toys propel your kitty into overdrive while others seem to get little or no response at all.

Why is that? Well, like everything else, not all catnip toys are created equal.

The active ingredient that gives your cat a "buzz" is called nepetalactone. It's highly concentrated in the leaves and blossoms of the catnip plant, but not in the stems. Which means catnip that contains stems will have less of an effect on your cat.

The catnip used in many commercial catnip toys and products is made from the entire catnip plant -stems and all. This "toy grade" catnip is cheaper, but the toy will be much less appealing to your cat.

Another important factor in the effectiveness of a toy is the actual amount of catnip the toy contains. Some manufacturers merely "scent" their toys. Others use only a small amount of catnip, stuffing their toys with "fillers" like cotton or plastic. These toys will be far less pleasing to your precious pet.

When you buy loose catnip, look for a greenish hue. It means the catnip is fresher, which is important because catnip loses its potency as it ages. But you can't see the catnip inside the toy, so how will you know if it's fresh? Take a sniff. If you can't detect any herbal smell, chances are the catnip is old or of low quality.