Cat Scratching Pad

scratching pad

Astro's Catnip!

catnip bag

  • Official name of Catnip: Nepeta - Family: Labiatae (Lamiaceae) (mint family)

  • English Names: catnip, catmint, catnep, catrup, catwort, English catnip, field balm, nep, nip

The following information is exerpted from NRC RESEARCH PRESS Publications.

Interesting Facts about Catnip

  • The generic name Nepeta is said to have been derived from the town Nepete in Italy where catnip was once cultivated (Bunney 1992).

  • Nepeta has about 250 species of perennial, sometimes annual, herbaceous plants native to dry habitats in temperate Europe, Asia, northern Africa and the mountains of tropical Africa. Several species are grown as ornamentals and as ground covers.

  • Nepeta cataria is an erect perennial, 0.3-1.6 m high, which produces small whitish or pinkish (occasionally blue or lilac), purple- or red-dotted flowers. The plant is strongly scented with a mint-like odor, rather like pennyroyal (discussed in this book), which many find somewhat disagreeable. Catnip is native from the eastern Mediterranean region to the western Himalayas, central Asia, southern Siberia, and China. It has been introduced in Japan, North America, South Africa, and Java. Catnip has become widely introduced in North America, and has been collected as far north as Alaska. As a weed, it is found in hedges, fence rows, roadsides, stream banks, and waste places.

  • Catnip was cultivated for cats by the classical Greeks and Romans (le Strange 1977). By 1265 it was a familiar herb of kitchen gardens in England (le Strange 1977). During the early medieval period the leaves and young shoots are known to have been used as a seasoning in the kitchen. In 15th century England, catnip leaves were used for rubbing meats before cooking, and also sprinkled in mixed green salads (Macleod 1968). Before modern Chinese tea became widely available, catnip tea was frequently consumed in England (Duke 1985).

  • The response of domesticated cats to catnip has been extensively studied. Any branches of catnip that have been bruised or broken will emit the catnip chemicals. The cats sniff, then lick and chew while shaking their heads, followed by chin and cheek rubbing and a headover roll and body rubbing. They may become quite vocal. Because the reaction is similar to estrous rolling patterns, and sexual stimulation is apparent (even in neutered cats), some have interpreted catnip as an aphrodisiac. Cats take great pleasure in rolling in and eating the foliage, returning daily to repeat the experience. Catnip does not appear to harm cats.

  • Kittens less than 2 months old do not react or react only partially to catnip, and the full behavioral pattern may not develop until cats are 3 months old.

  • While most domesticated and wild cats are affected by catnip, not all are "nipaholics." A dominant gene has been shown to be responsible for inheriting the response.

    Uses of Catnip