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Home > Cats > Why Doesn’t My Cat Like Catnip? 3 Likely Reasons & Alternatives

Why Doesn’t My Cat Like Catnip? 3 Likely Reasons & Alternatives

a Siamese lynx point cat lies down on the floor sprinkled with catnip and lick her paw

You don’t have to be a cat owner to know that cats go absolutely crazy for catnip. A single whiff of the stuff and cats go rolling and meowing in pure ecstasy. So, if your cat doesn’t show much interest in the nip, you’re bound to have some questions. If you’re wondering why your cat doesn’t like catnip, keep reading to find out.


What Is Catnip?

Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, is a small shrub native to Eurasia that contains volatile oils, specifically nepetalactone. This oil binds with protein receptors to stimulate sensory neurons in cats. This makes them mellow out and can help reduce their anxiety and depression.

Why Doesn’t Your Cat Like Catnip?

If your cat doesn’t like catnip, you’re not alone. Only 70 to 80% of cats react to catnip. What about the other percent? Why do some cats not like catnip?

  1. Genetics: Felines have different personalities and traits, and while some cats will go crazy about catnip, others will not care about it. This has everything to do with genetics. About 30% of cats will not even be affected by catnip whether they ingest or inhale it.
  2. Age: The herb commonly has little to no effect on kittens less than six months of age. In fact, kittens that are younger than 3 months old might even show a dislike to catnip!
  3. Preference: Other cats simply don’t like its effects and will therefore avoid it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea!

Why Don’t All Cats React to Catnip?

Reactiveness to catnip is a hereditary genetic trait. Cats that don’t inherit the gene can’t get “high” on catnip. Most of the time, they’ll just sniff it and walk away uninterested. This is really disappointing if you were aching to see your kitten rolling around in ecstasy.

However, don’t lose all hope. If your cat doesn’t react to store-bought catnip, maybe it will to home-grown catnip. Growing your own catnip is easy; anyone can do it. Provided you buy the right seeds and water the plant regularly, you’ll be plucking your catnip from your lawn in no time. Some cats only react to home-grown catnip, so why not give it a whirl?

But what if that also doesn’t work?

The 4 Catnip Alternatives for Your Cat

Don’t get too worked up if your cat is completely non-reactive to catnip. There are a couple of catnip alternatives you could explore. They include:

1. Valerian Root

Humans have used valerian root to cure insomnia, anxiety, and restlessness since the second century. The root, however, has a completely opposite effect on cats, causing them to become extra playful and energetic. If you want a happy cat around your house, look no further than valerian root.

It’s worth noting that valerian root has a strong, funky, cheesy smell. It’s not the most pleasant smell for your human nose, but your cat will adore it.

Valeriana root
Image Credit: xbqs42, Pixabay

2. Chamomile

If you need something for your cat to relax and keep calm, chamomile flowers are just what the doctor ordered. These flowers are everywhere and are a great replacement for catnip.

Dry the flowers and sprinkle them on your cat’s toys to administer it. Alternatively, you can buy toys infused with chamomile or chamomile spray. Both work just as well.

3. Silver Vine

You can think of silvervine as catnip on steroids. While catnip has only one attractant compound, silver vine has two! So if catnip doesn’t do the trick, then maybe silver vine will. However, for the best results, make sure you get pure silver vine.

There are plenty of silver vine packages that contain other ingredients that compromise the plant’s potency, so they won’t do much for your cat.

Silvervine janapese catnip
Image By: neconion, Shutterstock

4. Tartarian Honeysuckle

The Tartarian honeysuckle is one of the lesser-known species of the honeysuckle plant. The plant has a compound almost similar to nepetalactone, but not the same. However, the effect of the plant has on cats is identical to catnip. The best part is that the plants are an excellent addition to any home garden and will make the space look lovely.


Final Thoughts

Don’t get too worked up if your cat doesn’t seem to like catnip. There are tons of other alternatives you could explore. However, before trying anything, get professional advice from your vet. They’ll give you sound advice on when to administer the herb and the correct dosage to give your cat. Kitty happy time awaits!

Featured Image Credit: Pixel Cat Photo, Shutterstock

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