do catnip plants attract cats

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is native to Europe and a close relative of the mints (spearmint, peppermint, pennyroyal, etc). Many cats are attracted to the plant or dried herb and the smell can trigger strange behavior patterns.

Protecting Your Catnip from Cats

Catnip is not a very attractive herb, and it can be a little aggressive. But many gardeners cultivate catnip for its therapeutic properties, so protecting catnip plants is essential. Catnip leaf tea has a slight sedative effect and can help with headaches, nausea, and sleeplessness. There are instances when the leaves are used topically to treat arthritis. You might need to shield your catnip plant from excessive kitty attention if the neighborhood cats are petting on it more often than you would like. Basically, the only method to keep cats away from your catnip is to enclose the plant. As long as paws can’t easily fit through the holes, wire fencing is acceptable. Some people like to put potted catnip in a birdcage. As long as the hanging basket is kept securely out of reach, catnip also grows well in them.

Why are Cats Attracted to Catnip?

Nepetalactone, a substance found in catnip (Nepeta cataria), is what draws many cats, including tigers and other wild cats. Cats usually react by rubbing against the plant, rolling in the leaves, or chewing on them. If they find any evidence of catnip on your shoes, they might even go a little crazy. While some cats become incredibly playful, others develop nervousness, aggression, or drowsiness They may purr or drool. A reaction to catnip lasts only five to 15 minutes. Catnip is “purr-fectly” safe and non-addictive, though consuming a lot of it might make you feel a little queasy. It is also typical for your cat to show no interest in catnip. Genetic susceptibility to catnip means that between one-third and one-half of cats are completely unaffected by the herb.

2007 saw her realize her dream of opening her own clinic by creating and constructing it. In addition to operating her clinic, she fulfilled a significant role as the county’s shelter veterinarian. This allowed her to work with the rescue she loved and contribute to the betterment of many animal lives in her community. In 2019, she closed her practice to relocate across the nation.

Our goal is to use instructional materials to help save the lives of dogs and cats. To support our efforts, this page may contain affiliate links. For eligible purchases, we receive a commission at no additional cost to you.

A note for our readers: If you have an urgent question and are unable to ask your veterinarian, you can use the Ask a Vet service that will give you access to a veterinarian for 7 days for $5.

With more than 20 years of experience, Beth Turner is a veterinarian. After earning her degree from North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, she started working as an associate veterinarian and closely collaborated with the nearby shelter.


Will growing catnip attract stray cats?

If there are cats in your area, there is a very good chance they will make your catnip patch a regular hangout— they can easily smell it from a distance.

How do I keep cats out of my catnip plants?

To keep plants from being loved to death, cover each with an arch of chicken wire. The stems can grow up through the holes, yet the plant’s base and roots are protected. Or, try interspersing with bamboo stakes to prevent cats from rolling on top of the plant.

Do cats like catnip leaves or flowers?

Cats like catnip because they are attracted to the compound nepetalactone, which can be extracted from the leaves, stems, and flower buds of the catnip plant. The highest concentration of nepetalactone is found in the buds, which is why quality catnip should always have flower buds, and not just leaf, in it.

Will a cat eat a catnip plant?

Cats can ingest catnip, and it may even be helpful for their digestive tract. The catnip plant has actually been used in people for its antidiarrheal properties. With this said, it is important to prevent your cat from ingesting large amounts of catnip, as this can cause digestive upset.