From Bouncing to Rolling to Kicking…How Catnip Can Be Used to Help Our Kitties…And Also our Dogs!
For those cat owners who want a little entertainment with their feline companions, offering them catnip in various toys morphs our domesticated felines into their wild ancestors! The ecstasy they enjoy from smooshing their faces into Kitty Sticks (Kätzen Spiel) causes them to purr, drool, kick…and then zonk out in CATatonic Bliss!
Catnip is a member of the mint family of plants and contains the chemical Nepetalactone. When this compound is inhaled, it binds to protein receptors and stimulates neurons. The amygdala, the center of emotional response in the brain, and the hypothalamus send signals to lick, chew, rub their cheeks, and roll around. Catnip contains iridoids, a compound of chemicals that seem to arouse pleasure circuits in cats. Yes, it appears they are often “high”!
And the compounds in catnip can also be a mosquito deterrent! The same chemical Nepetalactone activates ancient pain receptors in mosquitos according to Marco Gallio, an associate professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. Studies in the journal Science Advances, have shown a direct link between the chemicals in catnip and their protective effects on cats. Mikel Delgado, an expert at the University of California on cat behavior, suggests cats might benefit from their play with catnip-toys! Because felines can contract heartworm infections from mosquito bites, any insect-deterring effect is welcome!
In the experiment, researchers rubbed silvervine (catnip) iridoids on the heads of several domestic cats. Some of the felines applied the substance themselves! They were then placed within an area with a high population of mosquitoes. The insects nipped at the faces of the control group of cats, but largely stayed away from the cats with the silvervine!
Catnip is as effective as synthetic insect repellents, including DEET, say the researchers, and has been shown to drive insects away! Understanding why these catnip compounds repel bugs could lead to the development of future more natural repellents that target the mosquito irritant receptor! (ScienceNews, March 2021, Erin Garcia deJesus).
Now in regard to our Canine Friends, catnip is safe and non-toxic. Unlike the stimulant it is for cats, catnip affects dogs differently. It acts more as a sedative in dogs. Containing magnesium, vitamins C and E, tannins, and flavonoids, catnip can help with anxiety and improve sleep for dogs. Adding 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon of catnip to your dog’s food regularly will benefit them over time. ( Healthy Paws, September 2018, Colleen Williams and Cathy Barnette, DVM)
Your Pets Forever provides hand-crafted Kitty Sticks (Kätzen Spiel) that are stuffed with organic catnip grown in our own backyard. Why is that important you ask? Not only is it more potent, but a little will go a long way. But no toxic herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers are ever used. Even our noses can smell the difference!
For an overall HEALTH plan for your cats, try our PawTree Formulas~