What is Catnip and What is it Used For?

Catnip, also known as Nepeta cataria, is a type of herb that belongs to the mint family. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia, but has been naturalized throughout the world, including North America. Catnip is well-known for its effects on cats, and it is commonly used as a recreational drug for cats and as a natural remedy for various health issues.

Effects on Cats

Catnip contains an essential oil called nepetalactone, which is the chemical that gives the herb its unique effects on cats. When cats smell catnip, they may become playful, active, and even a little bit wild. Some cats may even experience a mild “high” from the scent of catnip. The effects of catnip typically last for about 10 minutes and then wear off. Not all cats are affected by catnip, as sensitivity to the herb is believed to be hereditary.

Uses as a Recreational Drug for Cats

Catnip is often used as a recreational drug for cats. It is usually sold in dried form, and can be sprinkled on toys, scratchers, or bedding. The smell of catnip is attractive to many cats, and they may spend hours playing with toys or scratching posts that have been infused with the herb. Catnip can also help to reduce stress and anxiety in cats, making it a useful tool for managing behavior problems.

Uses as a Natural Remedy

In addition to its effects on cats, catnip has a long history of use as a natural remedy for a variety of health issues. For example, it has been used to treat digestive problems, headaches, and insomnia. Some people also use catnip as a natural remedy for colds and flu, as it is believed to have mild expectorant and antiviral properties. However, it is important to note that there is limited scientific evidence to support the use of catnip for these purposes, and more research is needed to fully understand its potential health benefits.

Safety and Precautions

Catnip is generally considered safe for cats, as well as for humans and other animals. However, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to catnip, and some people may experience skin irritation or other symptoms after handling the herb. It is also important to note that catnip can be toxic to cats if they ingest large amounts of the herb. As a result, it is generally recommended to use catnip sparingly and to monitor your cat’s reaction to the herb closely.

In conclusion, catnip is a versatile and interesting herb that has been used for centuries for its effects on cats and its potential health benefits. Whether you are using it as a recreational drug for your cat or as a natural remedy for yourself, it is important to understand the potential risks and benefits of this fascinating herb.

Growing Catnip

Catnip is easy to grow and can be grown both indoors and outdoors. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun, but can also grow in partial shade. The plant can reach up to three feet in height, and produces fragrant, white or pale purple flowers. Catnip can be propagated from seeds or cuttings, and is generally considered to be a low-maintenance plant. In addition to its uses as a recreational drug for cats and a natural remedy, catnip can also be used as an attractive ornamental plant in the garden.


Catnip is a fascinating herb with a long history of use for its effects on cats and its potential health benefits. Whether you are growing it for your cat or using it as a natural remedy, it is important to understand the potential risks and benefits of this versatile herb. With its attractive appearance and intriguing effects, catnip is sure to be a unique and interesting addition to any garden or home.

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