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Home > Cats > Does Catnip Make Cats High? Facts, Health Tips & FAQ

Does Catnip Make Cats High? Facts, Health Tips & FAQ

gray cat enjoying fresh catnip

We’ve all seen those funny clips of people’s cats going wild after playing with some catnip. Catnip is an herb that has some sort of aroma that results in cats getting a burst of energy, but does it make them feel “high?” Well, according to the study, it works similarly to the way drugs affect a human’s reward system.1 The chemical compounds found in catnip work to reward a cat’s opioid system, which results in the “high” behaviors such as rolling around, getting a bit more aggressive, or spacing out.

That said, it’s not the same “high” that a human would experience from drugs. Let’s take a deeper look at how catnip affects felines below.


What Is It That Gets Cats High?

When cats interact with catnip, there is a chemical called nepetalactone that travels through their airways to release endorphins. As we know, endorphins result in these rather funny reactions like an increase in vocal behaviors, rolling around, and feeling generally good. It is not completely known how the cat feels when interacting with catnip in terms of other symptoms, but I guess we wouldn’t know until cats start sharing!

gray cat near catnip plants
Image By: Georgia Evans, Shutterstock

Can Cats Get Too High from Catnip?

Unlike humans, cats cannot get addicted to catnip. This isn’t like giving your cats drugs or giving them a life-long addiction. They won’t beg for more catnip or start experiencing negative side effects without it. However, ingesting too much catnip in one sitting can make them feel sick, like eating too many treats or too much food. You might notice this through vomiting or stomach issues.

How Long Does It Last?

After a cat interacts with catnip, you’ll notice they begin to react rather quickly. It often only takes a few seconds before they start acting silly. It also doesn’t last an extended amount of time. It is said that the effects of catnip only stick around for about 10–15 minutes though. Interestingly enough, it’s reported that there will be a period of time following the come down from the high where they won’t feel the same affects again.

Is There More Than One Type of Catnip?

While the most common type of catnip comes as dried leaves shredded into smaller pieces, there are other forms of catnip. You can find it in sprays, toys, the plant itself, and more. The most common type is seeing it ground up in a bag at your local pet store, whereas the second most common would be toys stuffed with the plant.

Our Pick for Best Catnip Toy:

Well-designed toys will keep your cat happy and engaged. For a sturdy, fun toy that will look nice in your living room, we recommend Hepper’s Catnip Stick Toy! These toys are designed to look like prey and double-bagged to stand up to your cat’s sharpest claws and teeth. Plus, they’re filled with organic catnip and handmade in the USA.

Hepper Stick Catnip Cat Kicker Toy
  • No Filler - Like all the best cat toys our is stuffed with 100% organic catnip. Cheap cat toys with...
  • Flexible Play - Simple plush shape is great for biting, scratching and pawing. It can start life as...
  • Durably Designed - Our cat safe toys are hand-stitched with a double-lined exterior construction for...

At Pet Keen, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

Health Tips for Cats

Catnip will not harm your cat. If they accidentally get into a bag or rip open a catnip toy, your biggest concern would be how hyper they might get or the digestive issues that could result. Reportedly, there was a time in the 1960s where humans tried catnip and it had similar affects to marijuana, but with decades of experience since we can be sure that it’s a very different and less “negative” high for cats. Of course, we can’t fully understand the little creatures, but there have been no unsafe or dangerous side effects documented with catnip.

As mentioned, the only thing you should keep an eye on is if your cat begins throwing up after having too much of it.


Final Thoughts

All this is to say that catnip is a safe option for your cats if they enjoy it. Some cats may react differently, but you don’t have to worry about them having any severe adverse reactions to the plant. The most you’ll see is a happy and hyper cat followed by a sleepy cat.

They won’t experience any addiction issues or withdrawal symptoms like we do, so don’t feel like you’re drugging up your cat after giving them a catnip toy!

Featured Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

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