is catnip addictive for cats

Your cat cannot become addicted to catnip and will not experience an opioid withdrawal no matter how much catnip your pet is exposed to. Frequent exposure to catnip, however, can cause your cat to develop a tolerance to the plant, according to PetMD.

Catnip Highs vs. Human Drug Highs

While our ability to understand the subjective experience of cats is limited, we do have some sense of how the plant affects people. There was a brief period in the 1960s when the cheaper and more readily available catnip was mixed with tobacco or marijuana and smoked.

People who smoked catnip reported experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations as well as feeling “happy, contented, and intoxicated,” which is comparable to the effects of marijuana.

Of course, cats are not small people. We cannot presume that cats will behave in the same way as us. Pets shouldn’t take medications that are safe or effective for humans. For instance, while over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen are generally safe for humans, they can be fatal to cats. Additionally, antihistamines are typically ineffective in treating pet allergies, with a few notable exceptions.

How Long Does It Take for Cats to Get High on Catnip?

Catnip takes a few seconds to take effect on cats. The effect can last anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, though this is not always the case. It’s interesting to note that cats have a refractory period when using catnip; after getting whatever “high” they may experience, it takes them one to two hours to feel the effects again.

Catnip Highs as Evolutionary Rewards

Catnip’s euphoric effects on cats are not merely a happy coincidence. Researchers hypothesize that the behaviors the plant induces also have an evolutionary component.

Most feline species stalk their prey in areas of dense brush or tall grass, where they will inevitably come into contact with insects. Because the blood vessels in cat ears are shallow and largely unprotected by fur, mosquitoes like to feed on them.

Rubbing one’s face in catnip is a common behavior among affected species, including servals, lions, jaguars, cougars, and lynxes. This supports the theory that catnip susceptibility confers an evolutionary advantage by keeping disease-causing insects at bay.

To increase their chances of surviving in the wild, cats defend themselves against insects by rewarding themselves with pleasurable, endorphin-induced sensations.


Is it OK to give a cat catnip everyday?

While catnip is non-addictive, its effect can dull due to overexposure. So, while the occasional catnip “high” might be fun, it’s best to avoid a daily catnip routine with your cat. The effects also start to decline as your cat ages. You won’t see the overly exaggerated response you’re used to with older cats.

Do cats enjoy being high on catnip?

Not all cats behave the same way when they encounter catnip. While many become relaxed and happy, for some, the sense of ‘euphoria’ can manifest itself as hyperactivity or even aggression. Other cats may have no reaction to catnip at all. The causes behind this are both genetic and personality-driven.

Can catnip make cats crazy?

Most cats react to catnip by rolling, flipping, rubbing, and eventually zoning out. They may meow or growl at the same time. Other cats become hyperactive or downright aggressive, especially if you approach them. Usually these sessions last about 10 minutes, after which your cat loses interest.

What happens if I give my cat catnip too often?

Start with a small pinch of fresh or dried catnip, or one catnip treat and see how they go. It doesn’t usually take much for them to feel the effects. Be careful not to go overboard with it, as eating too much catnip in one go can cause an upset tummy, including diarrhoea and vomiting.