Although catnip can be an asset in behavior modification, many owners either don't incorporate it into their cats' lives or they overuse it, which can leave cats immune to its effects. Here are the basics. Catnip contains a volatile oil that creates the "catnip effect." The effect is similar to that of an aphrodisiac, and catnip is safe and nonaddictive. Catnip is a hallucinogen that reduces a cat's inhibition and creates a euphoric feeling that lasts about 15 minutes. They may roll in, lick or eat the herb. It shouldn't be left out all of the time because if cats are constantly exposed to it, they can become immune. Interestingly, the response to catnip is an inherited gene that about one-third of the cat population lacks. Catnip should be given only to adult cats. Kittens don't respond to the herb nor do they even need it, considering all their seemingly endless energy.
• The benefits of catnip
• A couple of catnip cautions
• How to use catnip
Reprinted from Cat vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett © 2004. Permission granted by Penguin Putnam.