If your cat is a fan of the plant Nepeta cataria, otherwise known as catnip, then you have to check out the essential oil version. Created by steam distilling the plants, catnip essential oil has all the same goodies, but just in an easier-to-give form that’s often more potent.
Fun and therapeutic on its own, and often blended with other essential oils for even greater benefits, today we are talking all things catnip. With its natural aromatherapy properties, there is nothing to not love about this incredible plant.
What Are Nepeta Cataria Essential Oils?
Origins: Europe, Asia, and Africa
Botanical Name: Nepeta Cataria
Plant Family: Lamiaceae
Part Of Plant-Derived From: Flowers, Leaves, and Stems (steam distilled plant part)
Aroma: Minty, Lemony, and Herbaceous
Color: Amber / Yellow / Orange
Consistency: viscous but runny
- Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
Why Does My Cat Love Catnip?
Cat’s love catnip oil thanks to the main chemical nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is classified as a terpenoid, otherwise known as a chemical that helps give a plant its aroma. And when we say cats love it, we mean it, with newer research dispelling the thought that some members of the species are completely unaffected by the plant’s essential oils.
By interacting with the olfactory system, when a cat gets a close-up sniff of catnip’s scent, their opioid receptors are activated, causing them to experience…well…a powerful euphoric high. However, this euphoric high is short-lived — commonly around just 5 minutes. But then it is followed by a longer wave of calmness and ease — typically lasting for 10 minutes up to an hour.
But it’s not just the euphoric high or the feelings of ease after that draw our felines attention to the plant. From beneficial properties that can help wounds heal faster to insect-repellent ones that can save their skin from mosquitoes from biting, catnip is often a cat’s best friend.
Fun fact: With an incredibly powerful aroma, just the scent of the plant in the air, can make a cat search every nook and cranny for it. But to unlock the plant’s true pungent smell that will send your cat head over heels for, make sure to break and rub the stems and leaves up a bit first to unlock the oils.
Benefits and Uses
Helps Your Cat Relax
The Nepeta cataria plant has biphasic effects on our feline friends, meaning they will go through two different phases of effects on it. When a cat first gets a whiff of the nip, typically within a few seconds, they enter a euphoric state where they will roll, bite, scratch, and play around with the plant. They may chaotically meow at it and zoom around the room as well. However, the enticing smell of catnip often triggers them into eating it. When this happens, an immediate sense of calmness and sedative-like effects wash over them that can even help them sleep better.
Because the high-energy euphoric phase only lasts a few minutes while the calming phase lasts up to an hour, catnip is great for helping calm down an anxious cat. And even the first phase can help them because the fast-acting enrapturing nature of the plant can quickly preoccupy their mind instead of the anxiety.
Mosquito and Insect Repellent
Catnip has long been a favorite crop to plant for gardens that are looking to keep a variety of pests away, including mites, ticks, mosquitoes, deer, and aphids. In fact, thanks to research in 2021, it’s now thought that cats are attracted to catnip for both entertainment reasons and survival. By rolling around in catnip, a cat can give themselves a chemical coat that protects against mosquito bites.
Nepeta cataria is an invasive species, however, and can quickly take over your garden. So while incredibly easy to grow, many prefer spraying catnip essential oil in the areas they want to keep pests away.
How powerful are catnip oils for repelling mosquitoes and other pests, you ask? Very! With studies showing it can match and potently out-perform common synthetic solutions like DEET. When you have an insect problem, catnip essential oil can be a lifesaver, and it’s super easy to place in a spray bottle for easy application.
Helps With Training
While it’s not anywhere as easy to train a cat as it is a dog, it’s still possible for them to learn a variety of tricks. While treats are still the best way to train a pet, catnip can greatly help the process with many pet owners saying it was essential to train their cat.
Even when that type of training isn’t desired, catnip is still helpful for grabbing your cat’s attention. For example, struggling to get your cat to scratch at their post instead of your furniture? If you haven’t tried spraying catnip essential oil on the post, your next step should be doing just that! To use catnip that’s been dried or is still fresh, simply rub it on the scratching post.
Catnip can help reduce pain, lower inflammation, and relax tight muscles, greatly speeding up recovery from injuries, surgeries, and on, while also easing the time spent recovering. This goes for both felines and humans.
It’s important to note that these claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration to be intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness. However, extensive research and anecdotal reports show catnip is well tolerated by both us and our felines along with canines. While only a cat will feel the plant’s euphoric and stimulating effects, others are able to reap many of the plant’s other benefits.
Catnip is rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C and A, magnesium, flavonoids, and tannins. Vitamin C is used by the body to better protect cells as they age, then vitamin A, like C, is an antioxidant that helps protect the skin and keeps eyesight sharp. While a cat can experience some of the plant’s effects through smell alone, they will need to ingest the plant to take advantage of its nutritional benefits.
Catnip has many many benefits, but if we are being realistic, the biggest reason so many give it to their cat is because of the entertainment it provides.
Catnip can turn even the most refined or sternest cat into a kooky kitty at the drop of a dime, causing them to play with it in the most hilarious ways.
Despite many cats’ immense love of the plant, catnip is not addictive nor does it have habit-forming properties. In fact, while many cats enjoy the nip, its effects are short-lived and a cat will need to “recharge” before they are affected by the plant again.
How To Safely Use Catnip Essential Oil
With catnip’s ability to cause such a pronounced euphoric high in felines, many wonder if it’s truly safe for their cat to have. It might seem surprising, but even with its incredibly potent effects on felines, catnip, even in its essential oil form, is perfectly safe to give every day.
Non-addictive, incredibly safe to give, and a treat for your best buddy, catnip has so many potential benefits with essentially no downfalls. In rare cases, however, it is possible to overexpose your cat to too much catnip, which may result in some minor digestive issues like an upset stomach. Ultimately, completely harmless, but — pun intended — digestive issues are never fun to deal with.
Is It Cruel To Give Catnip?
With potent euphoric effects that are 100% a drug for our felines, many pet owners wonder if it’s cruel to give catnip. The answer is no. The biggest misunderstanding when people say it can be cruel is because catnip makes a cat hallucinate and because of this, it’s inappropriate to give it when they are anxious or unsure of their surroundings. This is 100% false, and because the plant has longer calming effects than stimulating effects, — though not hallucinogenic whatsoever — it can be appropriate to give to an anxious cat.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are liquid extractions derived from plants to capture their unique “essence” i.e. their smells and flavors. They are most often derived through steam or water distillation and used for aromatherapy sessions. Sometimes, the oil is mixed with a carrier oil that may improve its bioavailability, ability to use, or help extend its shelf-life. These products can feature a single ingredient or be a blend of several plants.
When looking for the best quality essential oils look for ones that are 100% pure, free of any fillers and synthetic or harmful chemicals.
Fun Fact: While many are undoubtedly therapeutic, the term essential oil is a misnomer, where here, it defines that it has captured a plant’s essence vs. being essential for the body. A true essential aid is one that an organism can’t produce on its own but needs to carry out basic bodily functions for survival.
There are about 24 vitamins and minerals we consider essential. This list includes vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, and the B vitamins: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxal (B6), cobalamin (B12), biotin, and folate/folic acid. Along with minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, zinc, iodine, sulfur, cobalt, copper, fluoride, manganese, and selenium.
Single Essential Oils
Essential oils can be derived from any aromatic plant which includes about 10,000 different plants. However, not every aromatic plant is considered appropriate to use to create an essential oil. Currently, essential oils are taken from around 500 different plants, giving us 500 essential oils that can therapeutically heal different medical disorders such as by promoting sleep, reducing inflammation, protecting the skin, and on. This doesn’t even include all the different blends and combinations that can be made with them.
Remembering back to my probability and statistics math class, that’s 500 to the power of 500 or 500 x 500 x 500 x 500 x 500 and so on for 495 more times. The point being, that’s a lot of essential oils.
Nearly every essential oil has aromatherapy properties and is administered through a spray, however, some, as we’ll see in a moment, are administered by placing liquid drops on the tongue.
Common Catnip Essential Oil Infusions
Great on its own, but even better when paired with the right essential oil / another natural ingredient.
Whether to cover over the taste of medicine or to boost its therapeutic properties, catnip is a great essential oil to blend with. But before you purchase an alternative or a blend, it’s important to give them a thorough review. This way you won’t miss any key details that could concern their safety and your pet. Let’s help you with that!
Known for its ability to help with everything from poor digestion to anxiety to treatment for rare forms of epilepsy, CBD oil and catnip are a match made in heaven. Derived from hemp plants, CBD is a safe and non-intoxicating cannabis alternative to marijuana. While not as potent medically because it lacks a compound called THC, CBD also can’t cause a high, making it safe for kids and certain pets.
Thanks to supporting a regulatory system called the Endocannabinoid System, CBD can provide several health benefits to seemingly every mammal, including our cats and dogs.
With our feline friends able to reap the same benefits from CBD as us and our dogs, it’s only natural to want to give it to them. There is one trick, though, and that’s the flavor. While we can tolerate the grassy flavor of CBD, while our dogs seemingly love it, our kitties aren’t the same. This can be a problem because CBD works faster when the drops are placed directly on the tongue. Thankfully, catnip blends well with CBD, highlighting its calming and anti-inflammatory therapeutic properties while making it an incredibly enticing treat for your kitty.
While touted for its incredible safety, because of its strength to help heal even the most debilitating chronic illnesses, to use CBD safely, you want to be more precise with the dosages you give your cat. Most often, there will be dosage instructions on the back of the product, and you should be able to check out the company / maker’s website for further details.
As well, when looking to purchase a high-quality pure CBD, make sure you confirm it has a third-party lab report, otherwise known as a Certificate of Analysis (COA) and that both the company and the product have great customer reviews. Lastly, make sure to look for helpful service deals on shipping, etc. as it’s a sign the company is looking out for their customers.
Most commonly delivered by placing liquid drops on the tongue, while humans have the ability to instead vape hemp CBD oils, our kitties don’t have the same luxury. But while it is possible to vape CBD, it is not possible to use it as an aromatherapy aid.
Silver Vine (Actinidia Polygama)
While emerging research indicates that every cat is affected by catnip in some shape, way, or form after reaching a certain age, not all are affected evenly. So much so, that for many years, many thought up to 1 out of every 3 cats weren’t affected by catnip.
If your cat is one of those cats, then you’ll definitely want to check out silver vine or Actinidia polygama. While appearing to work closely to catnip, many report silver vine has a greater effect, with 8 out of 10 domestic cats showing a notable response to it.
Catmint, otherwise known as Nepeta x faassenii should not be mistaken for catnip, despite commonly being so. This is because while from the same family and having some similar digestion-improving abilities like catnip, it doesn’t cause a euphoric high when a cat makes contact with it.
Catnip Oil For Dogs?
Unlike cats, dogs do not experience any of the stimulating effects that come from the compounds in catnip. However, like cats, they can reap many of the other benefits, including the therapeutic digestive properties and nutritional value of the plant.
Many pet parents who own cats and dogs wonder if there is an alternative for their pooches. While there are some reports that anise and a plant called dog mint, — also a member of the mint family — have similar effects on dogs like catnip does on cats, there doesn’t widely appear to be a thing that exists for them.
All-natural, safe, helpful, therapeutic, and incredibly entertaining to give, cat owners owe a lot to Nepeta cataria oil/catnip essential oil. Whether using catnip oil on its own or in tandem with other essential oils like CBD or catmint, you’re making an exceptional choice when it comes to taking care of your feline’s health.
Remember to always check out the customers’ reviews before buying any product to confirm its quality, safety, and effectiveness. We hope you enjoyed our in-depth review into the world of Nepeta cataria essential oil, otherwise known as oil catnip.