Catnip is a rather funny concept. The unassuming herb, in mere minutes, can have even the coolest and calmest cat giddily squirming all over your den rug without a single care in the world. Although many cats go batty for catnip, young kittens typically are unaffected by the stuff.
The minty perennial has long been appreciated for its surprising physiological effect on some cats. Nepetalactone is one of the primary components of catnip, and the chemical compound can seemingly drive a cat wild. According to the Humane Society of the United States, the scent of the aromatic oil might emulate the actions of "happiness" chemical substances, and therefore elevate a cat's mood -- in a major way.
Although catnip is totally harmless and safe around kittens, both to smell and to eat, it isn't necessarily effective. The herb's influence is genetic, so not all cats respond to it, according to the Humane Society of the United States. If a kitten is going to be a catnip lover, you usually can tell that when he is 3 to 6 months old. A very young kitty's response to catnip all over the floor by him will probably be indifference -- and that's totally normal.
If your kitten has reached the half-year mark in age, you might indeed notice an obvious "result" of catnip. If you offer a little bit of the stuff for your kitty to smell, he might caress his wee body all over it, chew on it, lick it and just act like one happy camper. The joy typically ends within minutes. And it usually takes at least one hour for a cat to regain those warm and fuzzy feelings if exposed to the herb again, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau.
Small kittens not only don't usually notice the effects of catnip, they sometimes even go out of their way to ignore it, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. The marked herbal odor just might not be to a little fluff ball's liking.
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: Catnip
- The Humane Society of the United States: Catnip - Why Cats Go Crazy for It
- The Humane Society of the United States: Crazy for Catnip
- Hampshire College: Catnip
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Behavior Problems: Destructive Cat Behavior
- Feline Advisory Bureau: What is Catnip?
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