Catnip Benefits for Cats – Does Catnip Make Cats High?

My son is an addict. Fortunately my son is a cat, and he’s only addicted to catnip!  He LOVES this yeowww-tin-of-stinkieskitty drug, especially the Yeowww cat nip pillows and toys!  If I have purchased a new catnip toy for him I Barely get through the front door before he is going wild to get into the shopping bag.

Catnip-pillowSo, what is it about this magic elixir they call catnip?  Does catnip make cat’s high?  If so, is catnip good or bad for our kitties, and what are some potential catnip benefits for cat’s?  Inquiring cat parent minds need to know!

The Magic Elixir – What is Catnip?

OK, so your cat has a problem, admitting it is the first step!  We love our cat’s like children, so it is important we know exactly what we are giving our kitties to roll around in and play with.

Catnip is another name for the herb Nepeta cataria, part of the oregano and spearmint family. cat-high-nip Nepeta cataria is a relatively common plant, often found alongside the roads in North America.  There are more than 250 species of catnip found around the world today.

The chemical compound in the plant that attracts and affects cat’s is called nepetalactone.  It is found in the leaves and stems, and can grow up to three feet high…”high” being the optimal word here.

Is My Cat High, Should I Be Concerned He Has a Problem?

When nepetalactone is inhaled by a cat, it produces a “high” that is known to be similar to the high experienced from either marijuana or LSD.   The catnip “high” lasts for about 10 minutes before the effects wear off and the cat returns to normal, or one might say “comes down”.

Cat-high-catnipSome catnip side effects have been known to make cat’s roll around, flip over, and typically act a bit hyper.  Over half the cat population seem to be affected by catnip, and the behavior that results can vary from feline to feline.  A cat’s reaction or lack there of to catnip is believed to be hereditary, which means cat’s inherit this trait from their parents

Let’s take humans for example, or shall I say our cat’s servants. Let’s use alcohol as an example for all intents and purposes. Cat servant #1 could take a few drinks, enjoy their evening and call it a night.  Cat servant #2 has a sensitivity toward alcohol and takes a few drinks, takes a few more drinks, and cannot seem to stop.

Two people ingesting the same substance, have two very different reactions. It is no different for our cat’s who dabble in the nip!

Is catnip good or bad for our kitties?

Catnip has been found to be relatively harmless.  yeowww-catnip-toys

The active ingredient that makes our felines “high” is nontoxic and has no adverse effects on cat’s.  A few felines do become a little more aggressive than usual and tend to be a little more possessive. 

If your kitty start to show signs of aggression simply avoid giving your cat catnip or you could give it to them when they have some alone time to enjoy the magic kitty elixir.

Is Your Cat High or Just Tired?

Cat-nap-catnipWhen a cat eats catnip, it acts as a sedative, but when the plant is smelled, it causes the cat to go crazy.  It is thought to imitate feline pheromones and trigger those receptors.

If your cat sniffs this magic elixir, and begins rolling around with a catnip toy, he or she could demonstrate a few of the following behavioral changes:

  1. Increased meowing
  2. Increased salivation
  3. Desire to roll around with said catnip toy
  4. Ears may go back and eyes may widen
  5. Spuratic bursts of speed
  6. “Paranoia” LOL

A cat’s behavior can change dramatically when they are introduced to catnip.  Grey-cat-catnipWhat exactly it changes to can differ from cat to cat.  Senior cat’s may seem to be rejuvenated and begin to act like they did when they were kittens.  When my kitty Mr. Grey got sick at the age of 15, he would always perk up when I came home with a new catnip toy for him.  Which of course brought me intense joy, knowing he was in the twilight of his years.

Catnipaholism is a progressive “habit”.  In the early days of playing with catnip, it seems to make most cat’s more playful and more interested in toys.  However, after a certain amount of time, cat’s under the influence of catnip seem to calm down and get sluggish and sleepy.  One might say “the nip stopped working”.  Or, the catnip no longer does for your cat as it did in the beginning.

If you are worried about your cat ingesting catnip leaves, you can avoid this by purchasing  I suggest these catnip toys that are wrapped in cloth.  That way your cat can still smell the substance but not eat the leaves.

Catnip Benefits

One benefit that I love about my cat playing with catnip is that it inspires movement and exercise after long periods of rest.  Cats typically sleep 12-18 hours a day, so playing with a little catnip is a great way to get them moving and grooving!

Not only does this impact your cat’s overall weight and physical health, it also has a role in minimizing the risk of diabetes and age-related illnesses like arthritis.

Similarly, catnip can be helpful in training – especially if your cat misbehaves (like scratching your furniture).  Sprinkle dried catnip on places you’d rather have your cat scratch or sleep on.

Catnip also seems to make most cat’s more playful and more interested in toys. Catnip is purrrfectly safe and the active ingredient is nontoxic and has no adverse effects on cat’s.

This is Your Cat, This is Your Cat on Nip

We all have our vices.

Your cat just happens to like to get “high”.  The good news is, your cat’s drug of choice is legal and perfectly safe for your feline royalty to indulge in!

cat-high-catnipDoes catnip make cat’s high?  Yes, absolutely.  A ten-minute state of kitty euphoria! I highly recommend Yeowww cat nip toys, as it is really fresh and strong. These are high quality, high test catnip toys! If your cat is anything like Uncle Sil, they will go positively wild when you walk through the door with their next “fix”.

Is your cat part of the percentage that has the catnip sensitivity, and goes bonkers for it?  What is your cat’s absolute favorite catnip toy?  Please feel free to share pictures and comment below, as I’d love to get new ideas for what to buy my King!

Yours in Kitty Health,

Kate Grey

Founder of The Cat Chronicles

This post contains affiliate links.

26 thoughts on “Catnip Benefits for Cats – Does Catnip Make Cats High?

  1. JK

    What an informative article on Catnip. I always wondered if it was good for my Princess. I buy her Catnip toys that are in burlap. She loves it. It’s the shape of a 🦞🦞. Love your articles. Looking forward to your next topic. I’d love to see something about cats teeth 😸 in one of your articles. Thanks, JK

    1. Kate Grey Post author

      Princess is a great cat name, very fitting for our royalty! My cats have also had some of the catnip lobster toys and absolutely went wild for them! Does Princess lick the lobster or how does she ply with it?

  2. Jordan

    This was really interesting, thank you for explaining how catnip actually works. We never gave catnip to our cat growing up because we had heard that it was like giving a cat opium – good to know that that was an exaggeration! I’ve actually stuck with that as an adult and have never bought catnip for any of my cats, so maybe now I’ll see if my cat likes it.

    1. Kate Grey Post author

      Thanks Jordan! I say go for it! Let you kitties give it a whirl. I would recommend getting cat nip that is inside a pillow or shaped object versus loose catnip leaves. Let me know what your cat thinks!

  3. Ford

    Hello Kate! Nice article you have here about catnip. I gain so much information about. I can’t believe that it makes them high. But good to know that it his harmless to them. Well, If my cat gets too active and crazy then better to cut all those plants. What do you think?

  4. Lynn

    Thank you very much for this informative article. I knew a little about catnip but didn’t know that a cat behaves differently when they are smelling catnip and eating catnip! This is really an interesting article. Look forward to your future posts

  5. JidroneP

    HaHaHa, I didn’t know the catnip is a legal drug for cats! Now I understand why my daughter keeps telling she needs to buy the catnip for her two cats. But I’m not sure she knows the catnip is a drug. I believe, If I tell her the truth about catnip, she will be shocked. Thank you for the excellent information and explaining in detail how the catnip works.

    1. Kate Grey Post author

      It is always hard finding out are kitties are hooked on the nip. Just kidding, I “highly” recommend your daughter keep spoiling the two cats. They deserve nothing but the best!

  6. Kavitha

    A very interesting and informative article on catnip. Though I don’t have a cat I couldn’t resist reading about it. One of my cousins has 2 cats. This will be useful for her. I will pass on this well-written article.

    1. Kate Grey Post author

      Who doesn’t want to know more about cats on nip! Please do pass this along to your cousin. I’m sure she’ll find it helpful!

  7. Jenny G

    Thanks for the great information! I haven’t been buying Gizmo the Wonder Cat any catnip because I was buying it loose and he’d overindulge (wonder where he gets THAT from? 😂) and then he’d throw up. Now I know to get it inside a toy or cloth instead. Where can I find the brand you recommend???

  8. Ali

    What a nice post you wrote! I really enjoyed reading it and I could not be silent about your post so I decided to leave my comment here and say Thank You! For sharing this quality post with others.
    Actually this is exactly the information that I was looking for information about the catnip benefits for cats and when I landed on your website and read this post, it answered all my questions in details.
    So I’m happy that you decided to write about this topic and share it with people. It’s very useful and can definitely be used as a great source for everyone who is interested in this topic.
    I will come back to your website again for sure and I’m looking forward to reading your new posts.)


    1. Kate Grey Post author

      Catnip is a topic that isn’t discussed enough! It truly has many benefits for our feline friends, I am glad you took something away from this article!

  9. Jim W.

    Very informative facts about catnip and how it works. Did not know about the smelling of it versus eating it. Kitties have personalities just like humans, so it’s not surprising that different cats can react differently to its effects. Look forward to reading your next article about our feline friends.

    1. Kate Grey Post author

      Yes, if your cat is just sniffing the catnip she will get excited and hyper for a bit, but if she eats it she may be off to kitty dreamland sooner than later!

  10. tami

    Love reading your articles! This one was super informative and I learned a lot. I’m feeling an increasing pull to adopt a kitty into our family but we shall see. Guess I should continue reading your posts and learning all I can before making a move.

    For now, I’ll paws.😉
    ~ t

    1. Kate Grey Post author

      I say go for it! Cats are such an easy pet to care for, especially if you have children. It really brings a fun element to the household!

  11. Charles

    wow, it’s an interesting and informative article about catnip, I’ve not heard catnip, just want to know can people use catnip? make a tea or oil something?

    1. Kate Grey Post author

      Exactly! People can consume catnip as well, it serves as a mild sedative. It is used everywhere catnip is found as a relaxing and soothing tea, to sip and kick back and unwind!


    Hi Kate, great post. I always thought that catnip is something like opium, so I never bought it for my cat. Only now have you made me aware of its advantages and what is important is that it is harmless. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Stefanie Taylor

    Hi Kate, I’m amazed by how knowledgable you are on all things cats. I work in a herbal apothecary and we sell catnip as a dried herb and tincture which is used in things like our hayfever mix, so it’s obviously great for humans too (except it doesn’t get us high! Ha ha).
    I do get people coming in and buying it for their cats, but I had no idea just how potent it was, I just thought it was a bit of a gimic. Thanks for enlightening me 🙂

    1. Kate Grey Post author

      The more you know the farther you’ll go! Catnip is absolutely safe for cats and humans alike. I checked out your site and it was really good stuff about CBD oil for cats with IBS, thanks for that info!


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