Ways to Give Your Cat Catnip

Cat and catnip
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Catnip is an herb in the mint family that is well-known for its effects on most felines. It contains a substance called nepetalactone that causes reactions ranging from sniffing, rubbing, and licking to getting exuberant and even somewhat aggressive. Up to 80 percent of domestic felines react to the herb, although it is less likely to affect kittens and senior cats.

All four of my felines are reactive to catnip, and I provide them with a variety of herb-enhanced products. Here are six different ways to share catnip with your own felines:

  • 01 of 06

    Catnip Toys

    Catnip toys are perhaps the most popular way to administer this popular herb to playful felines. I give my cats a wide variety of catnip-enhanced playthings, like the Kitty Mitten toy, which is stuffed with organic catnip, or any of the many toys sold by the Cosmic Catnip brand.

    The two keys for catnip toy selection are freshness and density of catnip filling. Buy your toys at a store with high turnover or order them from a website. Choose items stuffed completely with the herb rather than with fillers.

    Catnip is good for other playthings like mats, not just traditional toys.

  • 02 of 06

    Dried Catnip

    Dried catnip is the classic form of this feline-pleasing treat. You can use the dried herb on anything from toys to scratching posts. It's also a useful training aid; for example, some dried nip on a scratching post attracts cats to this appropriate scratching spot. Some, like Imperial Cat Scratch 'n Shapes, even come complete with a catnip packet.

    Like catnip toys, the appeal of dried catnip is dependent on the freshness of the product. Buy it at busy pet stores that turn their stock over frequently My favorite brand is Cosmic Catnip dried catnip, which I buy by the tub.

  • 03 of 06

    Live Catnip Plants

    Live catnip plants provide your cats with the freshest possible version of this tasty substance. Many pet stores sell catnip plants or kits that allow you to grow your own from scratch. I find it much easier to buy fully-grown plants rather than waiting for the seeds to sprout and keeping them away from my four felines while they grow large enough to be served.

    My cats actually prefer dried catnip to the fresh kind, but they do love live pet grass. The grass doesn't cause a reaction like catnip, but it's a great way to bring a bit of the outdoors to indoor felines.

  • 04 of 06

    Solid Catnip Balls

    Most catnip-related toys are stuffed with the herb, but you can also purchase solid catnip balls. I thought my cats would go crazy over this type of toy when I saw it in the store and bought it for a review, but amazingly, they lost interest in it quickly. All four of the curious felines sniffed it briefly, then abandoned it.

    Other cats might be more reactive to solid catnip playthings. Their main appeal is the herb, since the balls themselves are too large to be carried around, and they don't bounce. Personally, I recommend stuffed toys over this product.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Catnip Bubbles

    Have you ever wanted a unique way to play with your cat? Would you like it even better if it involved catnip to ensure feline interest? Catnip bubbles just might be perfect for you and your pet.

    Catnip bubbles are similar to the type universally loved by children. The liquid comes in a bottle with a wand through which you blow the bubbles. The big difference is that the liquid is enhanced with an essence of the tantalizing herb.

    I thought this product would be an immediate hit with my cats, but surprisingly they were all suspicious of the bubble-blowing process, as you can read in my review. Instead of instantly attacking the drifting bubbles, they stared at me while I did the blowing, then fled from the floating orbs.

    Eventually one of my timid felines decided that the bubbles weren't dangerous, but he didn't go crazy over this product. However, I suspect that other cats might have a much more enthusiastic response.

  • 06 of 06

    Catnip Spray

    Catnip spray is a handy-dandy way to add the essence of catnip to virtually any item. Refresh old toys, spray your cat's bed, spritz the scratching post, or use it on anything else or any location where you want to attract your pet.

    Although spray is not as potent as dry catnip, it's not as messy as the dried herb so it makes a worthy addition to your feline-pleasing arsenal of products.