No. 1 pet insurer recommends pet parents protect themselves from unexpected veterinary bills.
SEATTLE (July 31, 2012) – Pets, like humans, enjoy being outdoors in the summertime. However, unlike humans, most pets don’t carry the health insurance needed to offset expensive medical bills related to outdoor injuries.
Today, leading pet insurance provider Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation (Healthy Paws) is urging pet parents to research and purchase a pet insurance policy for their best friend. Since pets spend more time outside during the summer, the company sees a substantial increase in injuries and veterinary bills that can be quite costly for the uninsured.
If there’s toy your cat will go crazy for it’s their catnip toy. Catnip is one of the greatest pleasures a cat can have, and here we explain why.
What Exactly Is Catnip?
Catnip, catswort, or catmint (Latin name Nepeta cataria, a plant of the Lamiaceae family) is an aromatic plant, with small clusters of purplish blue flowers, which are tubular in structure and prettily spotted with purple dots. It looks very similar to a mint plant in many ways, but is a softer colour. It has sturdy stems with grey green leaves, and it is the chemical in the leaves that cats are attracted to. Plants of the Lamiaceae genus are native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America, where it will grow freely, in even very poor soil and hot, dusty conditions. Some people regard catnip as a weed, it is so common. In countries where it is bought as a garden plant however, catnip is treated as a herbaceous perennial. Catnip has been used by herbalists for centuries. Its uses include relief for colic, dental problems, and indigestion. It can also be made into a calming herbal tea, used as a flavoring in sauces, soups, and stews, or even made into wine.
What part of the catnip plant is my cat reacting to?
The ‘active ingredient’ in catnip is an oil called Nepetalactone. This is the scent that your cat is trying to bathe in when he rolls around in the plant, or rubs his face against his catnip toy. The leaves, stems and seedpods of the catnip plant are covered in tiny bulbs called ‘trichimes’ which contain the oil, and unless they are crushed or pecked at by birds the oil will stay inside the bulbs until the plant has matured. However, your cat knows that he can release the oil scent by pouncing, chewing or rolling in catnip. He can’t get enough of that smell. This explains the repeated rolling over your cat might indulge in during his catnip playtime.
What sort of behaviour might cats display if he is exposed to catnip?
Rolling over on their backs, and stretching out
Chewing or rubbing their faces on the catnip product
Throwing catnip toy around
Blissful, sleepy expression
Running skittishly round the room
Mewing or growling
Why is the scent so much fun for cats?
There is some debate about the exact neurological explanation for the behaviour. It is suspected that it induces a state of euphoria a little like when humans are in love. The skittishness and silliness you will see in your cat will certainly demonstrate this amply. You will see your cat on a ‘Nip Trip’ behave almost as if he is intoxicated. Although nepetalactone oil seems to have an almost drug-like effect on your cat it is totally safe and he will not become addicted to it. The effects last only around five to fifteen minutes, and after that they wear off.
He cannot ‘overdose’ on catnip – in fact if he is given catnip too often the effects just lessen. So keep his treat for twice a week at most. It’s a great way to see him have pleasure, knowing all the time it is a safe and natural treat.
Do all cats respond to catnip?
No. Up to 25% of cats have not inherited the ‘catnip gene’, so they won’t respond. A kitten with only one parent with the catnip gene has a one-in-two chance of inheriting it, and a kitten whose parents both have the gene has a three-in-four chance. Little kittens and older cats are not likely to be much interested either. But that leave a majority of cats for whom it is one of life’s little pleasures.
Do big cats like tigers and lions react in the same way to catnip?
Yes! Have a look at some of the videos on our site to see what pleasure big cats get from catnip. You’ll see that some sanctuaries actually use catnip regularly to provide entertainment and pleasure to their big cats. These are known as enrichment activities, and they keep the animals in tip-top condition mentally. All cats needs some extra fun from time to time, and big cats are no different to any other cat in this respect.
Izzy Woods is a cat lover and travel blogger with a passion for all things cute. She writes for everything from cat breeding zines to caravan insurance newsletters, enjoying the company of her own pets.
As you may know from your own pet, if there’s one thing that is guaranteed to send your cat a little dizzy it’s their catnip toy. Big cats are no exception and one of the favourite enrichment activities we give our cats is their regular catnip fix.
What Exactly Is Catnip?
Nepeta cataria (also known as catnip, catswort, or catmint) is a plant of the Lamiaceae family. It has been used as a medicinal herb for humans over centuries and provides a nice calming tea, tincture or juice. It has also been smoked and was used in poultices at one time. The ctive ingredient in catnip is Nepetalactone, and it is this chemical compound that causes catnip’s greatest claim to fame, that of a stimulant for cats. If you have ever given your cat a catnip toy you will know that they simply can’t resist it. Typical reactions to catnip by cats include
Rolling over on their backs
Chewing or rubbing their faces in it
Throwing a catnip toy around
Blissful demeanour expression
Running round the room
Why Do Cats React In This Way?
It is believed that Nepetalactone acts as a psychosexual stimulant on cats. They breathe in the scent through their noses where it binds to olfactory receptors. The oil from catnip leaves contains a chemical called trans-neptalactone, the odor of which closely resembles a substance present in a female cat’s urine. It is believed to have an effect somewhat like that of a pheromone. This explains the frisky behaviour you see in the cats. It wears off quite quickly, after between 5-15 minutes, and approximately an hour later so they will respond again. If you see your cat chewing the herb they are not trying to eat it. It is more likely that they are trying to press the active ingredient against the pallet to get more of its effect. We chop out catnip up, as you can see in the video. It is best to remove the stalks and crush the buds and leaves for them. Don’t ever put it in their food however, as it is not particularly good for the digestion.
Do Big Cats Really Like Catnip?
Here at the Big Cat Rescue Centre we know that our big cats are not so very different to your own pet at home. We know that catnip is a special treat for cats and have fun watching our animals get pleasure too. One of the best times of the week is when we give the cats a paper bag with a handful of catnip inside and watch them rip it apart for the aroma. Our cats act dizzy, just like yours. It was thought at one time that tigers didn’t react to catnip, but we know differently. Watch our video to see for our Big Cats enjoy their treat.
Mountain lions, lynx, bobcats, tigers and jungle lions all respond to catnip in the same way. There is no doubt at all that they’re all from the same family. However, the capacity to enjoy catnip is hereditary, so if a big cat’s parents didn’t enjoy it then they won’t either. If your cat doesn’t respond, don’t worry. About 25% of cats don’t react to catnip at all, and kittens – either wild or domestic – and older cats don’t seem to be interested.
Can Too Much Catnip Be Harmful?
No! Our tigers and cats are given their treat just occasionally, and there is no chance of them becoming addicted to it. If anything overexposure works in the opposite way. If cats are given catnip too often they can become immune to it. Twice a week is probably the best rate to let your cat have his catnip toy. We let our cats have their bags of once a week. We keep our supplies of their precious herb in an airtight container, to keep it fresh. Nepetalactone is UV photosensitive and if exposed to sunlight for too long will eventually lose its scent. It is best to store it in a dark place for this reason, although some people swear their catnip keep its potency for years. Our catnip herbs don’t have a chance to lose their strength. With all our animals to keep happy we have to find quite a lot of catnip to make sure they have all had an equal amount.
If you come to the Sanctuary on a visit and see our big cats rolling around being friendly to a paper bag, you now know exactly why they are so happy!
Izzy Woods is an animal lover with more than her fair share of cats. When she’s not writing copy for Princess Cruises or contributing to cat-related publications, she’s spending time with her own pets.
Black leopard blisses out over enrichment at Big Cat Rescue
Catnip Hangover in bobcat at Big Cat Rescue
These hooks are why Keepers require 2 years training before getting near big cats
China Doll the tiger retrieves pumpkins from the lake and then chases them
3 pumpkins, 2 tigers, a dozen volunteers and lots of laughs
Tiger notices the ball while chasing pumpkins in the lake
Tiger takes a minute to savor her reward for pumpkin bobbing
Jeff watches Jamie carve a pumpkin for the leopards
Tiger Says "Mine! All mine!"
Hard to swim with your mouth full of pumpkin
Tigress tries to get 2 pumpkins at once; mouth and tail
Keeping the tiger pool pumps working is a daily chore
A cat loving friend of ours recently asked if we would put the word out that there are 150 domestic cats in need of a new home.
There are over 150 cats of the 700 rescued here in Fl. from a terrible cat hoarding situation at Haven Acres. Some really nice cats and barn cats are left and will be euthanized by the end of the month if no takers.
All are spayed and neutered, all shots, all healthy, negative for disease.
Please consider giving one or two of these a home and a chance at life. They spent who knows how long in a terrible situation at Haven Acres and now have been in a warehouse for months getting healthy and hoping for a home. Please don’t let them all die.
Two large adoption events, participation by Best Friends and Humane Society has still left 160+ with no hope at the end of the month. Some are feral and need to go on someone’s farm..probably no hope for those. Some are just nice barn cats or could be house cats..they were the more shy ones. It is heart breaking that they have suffered so much.
Please spread the word. Contact Christine if you can take any of them: firstname.lastname@example.org 708 267-6250