Seeking altered states of consciousness has been an endeavor for at least as long as people have been around, and our feline friends aren't immune to the allure of psychotropic substances. Catnip, a member of the mint family, elicits a euphoric reaction in many cats by mimicking pheromones thanks to an oil it produces called nepetalactone. Cats can respond to this ingredient in a number of ways, with many seen rolling in it, hopping around, zooming throughout the home, or even becoming sleepy and extremely relaxed depending on how they ingest it (sniffing catnip is more stimulating while eating the herb usually causes cats to lay low.) Catnip isn't known to be harmful to cats, and people offer the stuff to their companions as either a daily dose or the occasional treat. These days, catnip is offered in a wide variety of ways, with each cat having their own specific preference.
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What to Consider When Purchasing Catnip Products
Freshness: Loose catnip is a dried herb, and should be stored properly if you want to keep this treat fresh and functional. Catnip is usually kept in plastic or glass jars with tops, or resealable bags, which aids in offering a longer shelf life. If you don't plan to give your cat catnip as a treat very often, buying catnip in smaller portion sizes will be your best bet in keeping the herb fresh and potent for your feline. If you've purchased a large amount and want to keep it fresh, try storing it in an airtight container and keeping it in your freezer.
Delivery Method: Catnip is available in a variety of types, from infused treats to stuffed toys to sprays. Of course, good, old-fashioned loose catnip is still a favorite among many felines and is usually the most economical option assuming you're able to keep it sealed and fresh. Finding the right type of catnip may take a little trial and error as not all cats enjoy the same things. As catnip is a perennial herb, keeping live plants around your yard is also a possibility.
Age: Not all cats like catnip and even the ones that do won't develop a taste for the stuff until they're moving along through kittenhood. The catnip response doesn't develop until a cat is around three to six months old, so if you have a baby younger than that on your hands it's best to hold off until they're a little older before introducing the herb.
Potency: No matter how potent, sealed, or expensive a type of catnip is, all catnip will lose some potency over time. Catnip oil is at its most potent when it's harvested from plants at the right time, which is just after the flower buds form but before the flower has actually had a chance to open up. Most catnip is harvested during this time, although some types will have higher concentrations of oils depending on how and when the oil is harvested.
1. KONG Naturals Catnip Spray
A brand name well-known by dog owners for their durable products, KONG now offers a bit of enjoyment to the cat caretakers of the world with this spray-on catnip. Unlike other sprays which may contain water or other carrier oils to help deliver the potent ingredient to your cat, this one is made of 100% premium catnip oil—no fillers, just the good stuff. Thanks to this, the spray is highly potent, so just a couple of pumps on toys or scratch-approved surfaces is more than enough to keep your cat entertained and blissed out.
2. Meowijuana Catnip Spray
A slightly more expensive option, this spray is made from U.S.-grown, organic catnip plants. The catnip's essential oil is harvested from the plant when it's at its most potent—right after the catnip flowers bud, but just before they open up. Like all sprays, this stores easily and isn't at risk of going stale from air exposure, and is easy to spritz onto any toys or surfaces your cat prefers. If you have a cat who enjoys sniffing catnip over eating the dried buds, a spray is a great option to consider, although efficacy can vary depending on the brand.
3. SmartyKat Catnip Mist Spray
While it's the least expensive option of the sprays on this list, this SmartyKat product doesn't skimp on the potency of catnip essential oil. Unlike loose catnip, which can leave a slight mess on floors, this spray is easy to clean and can even be used to help train your feline friend to scratch on appropriate surfaces, like a scratching post, rather than furniture, carpeting, or drapes. Many people like to use catnip spray to help calm their cats during typically anxiety-inducing situations, like taking a trip to the vet or to the groomers, so if you have a cat that could use some soothing, the spray makes for an easy way to deliver the benefits of catnip without the mess of loose herbs.
4. SmartyKat Organic Catnip
Tried and true, this is likely what you picture when you hear the word "catnip." Already crushed, this dried herb is 100% certified organic and comes in a resealable plastic bag pouch to help keep it as fresh as possible. While catnip often has a calming effect on cats, especially after the initial buzz wears off, catnip can also be used as a toy to keep a cat's hunting instinct satisfied, which can reduce boredom in cats who live indoors full-time. As with all SmartKat products, the company will refund you or replace the item if you aren't satisfied with your purchase.
5. Litterbox.com Buds Catnip
This isn't your ordinary dried catnip, and it doesn't look like it either. Grown and harvested in Washington state, this catnip is harvested when flower buds are fully mature, which makes it easy to mistake for a certain other illicit substance commonly enjoyed by humans. Sent in a tin for easy storage, these buds need to be crushed between your fingers before you sprinkle it on the ground for your cat to enjoy, and do contain stems that should be removed before offering to your feline. Like all catnip, these potent buds are said to reduce anxiety when offered as a treat.
6. Meowijuana Kalico Kush Catnip
Despite the look of this catnip and its container, you don't need a medical card or a trip to your local dispensary to get your hands on this product. However, if you think this catnip looks like a strain of your favorite herb, that's because it is! Designed to calm the most curious cat, this one is a blend of catnip and valerian root. Valerian root has long been used as a sedative, and can also benefit depression, sleep issues, anxiety, and even digestive troubles. It comes in an airtight plastic canister, and don't let the small looks fool you—one container has about 50 servings-worth of catnip inside of it, so it's sure to last your cat almost two months even if you do offer it as a daily treat.
7. From the Field Stalkless Catnip
If you go through catnip like it's cat food, you may need a larger amount of catnip than usual, and this tub that weighs in at 3.5 ounces will keep your cats engaged for quite a while. If stored correctly, this container can keep catnip fresh for up to two years. Sent in a resealable plastic tub, this all-natural, organic catnip contains both catnip flowers and leaves, already finely ground and free of any stems, and ready to sprinkle on the ground for your cat to enjoy.