All my cats know two noises to come running to- the can opener and ziploc bag full of toys. I have a gallon size Ziploc bag with loud toys and when I shake it around it makes all kinds of noise. The reason they come running is because they know I have cat nip in the bag.
All the toys become saturated with the cat nip scent and I throw them out on the floor for the cats. I sprinkle pinches of the dried catnip into piles on the floor for each cat and watch them have a blast. The question becomes, what is cat nip and why does it make them act like that?
Cat nip can come in several forms. It is grown as a plant of course so it can be fresh or as dried leaves or crumbles of the dry leaves (which is what I usually get.) It can also come as catnip oil or even a spray in an aerosol can.
Catnip plant is a perennial herb in the mint family which creates a chemical called nepetalactone. This chemical reacts with the cat’s brain for the center of pleasure causing euphoria feelings of extreme happiness and relaxation.
The scent that is released when the leaf membrane breaks is what creates the change in the cat’s feelings and mood. Most cats eat the catnip, which is nontoxic and non addictive, but the effects come from the scent and not ingestion of the leaf. In fact, not all cats will have a response to the chemical in catnip. A reaction to catnip is a hereditary trait so it is interesting to see if your cat’s parents could be affected.
Once the cat has breathed in the scent of the nepetalactone, they will most likely roll in the remnants of the catnip and stretch out. They rub against the surface that held the catnip and kick and play in the area. When my kitties get catnip they usually start playing with each other and wrestle roughly.
It is a good time to stay back and just watch because the nails do come out! They attack toys with such a passion as if they were tiny kittens again with high energy. In about ten minutes the excitement wears off and it is usually nap time.
For my cats, it becomes community bath time before the nap. Those cats who are left in the pile of toys and catnip begin grooming each other with the occasional love bite to try and encourage the playing again. Then they usually leave the group and go off to their designated sleeping areas. The reason this happens is the cat breathes in the chemical and has the reaction.
After a little while the cat becomes accustomed to the smell and it no longer has an effect on the cat’s mood. However, in about an hour’s time, the cat will begin to react again to the same sample since their nasal passages have been cleared and the scent becomes brand new again.
Now that we understand catnip a little better, what about cat grass; The other cat plant that may be in your house. Perhaps you have seen a small square box of grass, or a box of seeds. The one I bought was a small box with clear gooey balls mixed in with the seeds; directions said to water daily and put it in the sun. It worked and grew fast! My cats loved it. Unfortunately they also loved dragging it all around the house and leaving a trail of those clear balls.
Cat grass is a cereal grass, either oat or wheat which is perfect for consumption of our kitties who need extra fiber in their diet. Greens such as cat grass and other vegetation have certain vitamins that cats will not get from any other source. Some dry foods have grains in them to compensate for cats being only indoors.
Vegetation also helps to aid in digestion and cats naturally know this and are drawn to it. Have you ever noticed your kitty chewing on your house plants or even a bouquet of flowers?
Certain houseplants can be lethal to our feline friends and if you own cats they should not even be in the house. But if you have other plants in the house that are safe for kitty to eat but would still rather them not, then I would suggest getting some kitty grass to satisfy their craving for the occasional vegetation.
Cats that have access to the lawn outside may try to eat that plant life, however the lawn has pesticides and fertilizer which is not good for your kitty. If your cat wants to eat vegetation why not give them a special grass just for them. It is certainly affordable, healthy and yummy too!
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