Did you know genetics determine if your feline family member is going to be a catnip responder? Here are some catnip dos and don’ts for the cat lovers in your household.

We as humans have a fascination with essential oils. Turns out your cat, otherwise known as the ruler of the house, may be genetically set up to either react, or not react, to catnip which is actually an essential oil. Toys infused with catnip are becoming more and more popular, but here’s some things to be aware of before you head down this path.

1. The young and the old.

About one in three cats inherit a sensitivity to catnip. You won’t find out if they are a reactor until about the age of 3 months. So, store all those crazy baby kitten presents you bought at birth with catnip in them and bring them out as they get older. Likewise, elderly cats may not react either so don’t force it.

2. Is dried or spray best?

The dried or fresh herb works better than the liquid spray because the latter generally doesn’t contain enough nepetalactone which causes the euphoric response in cats. Put the dried catnip that you don’t use in the freezer to hold its potency.

3. Helpful for training.

That expensive Italian couch you brought really doesn’t like claw marks on it. Neither does your bank account. Catnip is a great way to train them not to use your couch as a scratching post. If you have a cat that’s scratching your furniture, try putting some catnip on the scratching post or dangle a catnip toy from it to encourage them to use that instead.

4. Too much of a good thing.

It’s estimated cats can smell catnip at a 1:1 billion ratio of catnip in the air, so go slowly when introducing your catnip toy. Although catnip can be super relaxing for your cat, too much exposure to the herb can actually make them feel a bit queasy or turn them into a grumpy cat. Luckily, cats can’t overdose on catnip. It’s non-toxic so just take the catnip or toy away for a bit - they’ll be back to normal in no time.

5. Yes, you can wash them.

Surprisingly you can wash a catnip-infused toy and it will rejuvenate its potency. Wash it with cool or warm water in the washing machine and let the toy air dry on the line. But watch no one is hunting it!

Toys, and the herb itself, can be brought in all good pet stores so give it a go - but be careful wrapping it and putting it under the tree for Xmas!

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