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How Long Will Catnip Take to Kick In? What You Need To Know!

catnip leaves

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Tabitha Henson

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Wait for it. You have just given your feline some catnip. It may be the first time, and you are excited to enjoy this experience with him. Not knowing what to expect, you may be wondering how long it takes for the herb to kick in. A quick whiff or a little nibble will trigger his senses, and you will see the effects instantly. Curious to learn more? Read on!


What Is Catnip?

Catnip is an herb related to the mint plant. The light-green foliage resembles a feather and has lavender leaves. The plant contains a chemical, nepetalactone, which creates excitement in cats.

Only about 68% of cats will have a reaction to catnip. It doesn’t affect every cat, and some are just not interested. In about 10–15 minutes, the effects of the catnip will wear off. Your cat will need to wait anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to have the experience again. If you have a cat that is not interested in catnip, try giving him silvervine.

Image Credit: R. E. Beck, Pixabay

The Effects of Catnip on Cats

It is recommended that you give your cat dried catnip over concentrated oils. The dried plant can be smelled or eaten by your feline. The effects can be different, however. The reaction or experience can also vary depending on the individual cat.

The aroma of catnip is intense for a cat. His behavior starts to change immediately. He will start rubbing, flipping, rolling, being playful, and just acting nuts. Eventually, your cat may growl or meow as he is zoning out. Some have been known to become aggressive or hyperactive if you approach them.

When a cat ingests the catnip, the opposite happens. He just mellows out. In moderation, catnip may be good for your cat’s digestive tract. He should not be allowed to eat large amounts, however. Ingesting too much catnip can cause him to get an upset stomach.

Cats are smart creatures and usually know when to stop. They can, however, get sick if they overindulge. If your cat has had too much catnip, it may experience trouble walking, dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Interestingly, cats are not the only animals that respond to catnip; mosquitoes and cockroaches can be affected too.

tabby cat savoring catnip in the garden
Image Credit: Badon Hill Studio, Shutterstock

How to Use Catnip

Depending on your cat, there may be a particular way he likes his catnip.

Here are some suggestions:
  • Grow a plant so he can enjoy his catnip fresh
  • Buy or stuff catnip in a toy
  • Give him dried catnip
  • Try using bubbles or sprays
  • Roll his toys in catnip
  • Sprinkle or spray his cat tree with catnip

Catnip can really enrich your cat's life, especially if you choose a fun, well-built catnip toy. Our favorite option is Hepper's Catnip Stick Toy, which offers sturdy construction, 100% organic catnip fill, and a great range of colors. These toys are handmade in the USA and feature bite-proof double bagging.

Hepper Catnip Stick Toy2

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!


Silvervine is part of the kiwi family and is native to Japan, China, and Russia. Like catnip, silvervine creates a happy response in cats. Your cat may start licking and rolling. He may also become hyperactive or sedated.

Commonly used in Asian countries, the reaction exhibited by the cat is called the “matatabi dance,” meaning “travel again” in Japanese. You can give your cat silvervine in sticks, powders, and sprays.



It’s so much fun to watch your cat enjoying his little “high”. He is being stimulated while you are being entertained by his behaviors. It’s ten minutes of fun for both of you. While it is a safe and harmless treat, you should always seek the advice of your vet before giving catnip to your pet.

Featured Image Credit: lwccts, Pixabay

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