Does Catnip Get Cats High? - Catnip vs. Cat Mint: The Secret Tests

Does Catnip Get Cats High? - Catnip vs. Cat Mint: The Secret Tests

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In this article, we reveal what really happened when we tested catnip on a random selection of ordinary cats. First of all, though, let's start at the beginning and go back to basics. Are you a cat? Not sure? Well, here are some tell-tail signs:

  • You HATE dogs
  • If you see a ball of string or a ping pong ball, it's game on!
  • You HATE fleas
  • You are sophisticated and 'above' being trained (unlike dogs, who are stupid, and you HATE them)
  • You HATE messing up in public – afterwards, you skulk off and refuse to catch anyone's eye.
  • If you are provided with an expensive bed, you will not lower yourself to sleep in it, preferring places you are NOT supposed to sleep.
  • You HATE flea spray (I know, it makes no sense!)
  • You are fluffy and have a tail.

If this is not you, please leave this article now. Or read on*, and learn about the secret life of cats – and, more importantly, the truth about what catnip does to cats. (*Unless you are a dog, in which case, don't read on; go away. There's nothing for you here, and be warned: if you ever touch our cat food or bark at us again, we'll speak to your handlers and have you dressed up in a pink fluffy sweater and booties for the rest of your miserable doggy days).

What is Catnip? 

Scientists say catnip provides cats with an instant buzz for healthy play, relaxation and bonding. Here's the science bit, from Professor Nutchop Von Shorthair of the world-renowned Miaow Clinic:

"Ze catnip contains ze nepetalactone, which is found in ze leaves, stems and seeds of ze catnip plant. When a cat sniffs ze catnip, ze nepetalactone stimulates sensory neurons, which send signals to several regions of ze cat brain, including the amygdala (which controls emotional responses) and the hypothalamus (which regulates behaviors), mimicking the effects of feline pheromones, and making all sorts of yummy things happen. People often ask: 'Why is there not a 'dognip'? Zis is simply because dogs do not have brains."

Of course, many don't realize that not all cats find catnip effective. Sensitivity to catnip is hereditary, and approximately 2/3 of cats are affected by it. Kittens and older cats are less likely to respond, with sensitivity typically developing by around six months of age. Additionally, some breeds of cats, such as Siamese, are less likely to respond to catnip. All the cats in the following experiment, however, have the 'catnip gene.' (Know a cat that wants to find out whether they do too? Then grab 'em a free hit).

The Experiment: What Does Catnip do to Cats?

We've taken three pairs of sibling cats from Whisker City – non identical litter-mates, from different family and socio-economic backgrounds  – separated them into two groups, and will now conduct a rigorous scientific experiment, overseen by Professor Von Shorthair and his team of cat boffins.

The experiment is broken down into three stages, testing the impact of 1) playfulness, 2) calmness, and 3) bonding of both cat nip and an equally harmless but benefit-free control substance, ordinary cat mint. 

The two groups are sent to two different rooms. After rolling in their herbs – one room is given the cat nip, the other the cat mint, neither knows which – they undergo the following tests. 

Test 1: Does Catnip Make Cats Playful?

The cats are offered a selection of toys, including a wind-up spider, a ping pong ball, some string, and an actual dead fly. 

In Room 1, the participants go crazy – they look like infants of the homo sapiens species who've had too much sugar. Pupils are dilated. Play is performed at breakneck speed and with a high degree of expertise. Things you never thought could be done with a ping pong ball are done with a ping pong ball – it touches every bit of every wall in that room within a couple of minutes. It's a 'play' masterclass. Phrases used by the participants to describe how they felt include 'awesome', 'indestructible' and 'high as a kite baby!'. Asked to judge how playful they felt on a scale of one to ten, respondents reported an average score of 9.75. High indeed.

In Room 2, the participants do not go crazy. They go 'meh'. An initial wariness of one another is gradually overcome through the usual niceties – butt-sniffing, etc – but none of the cats appears to be in an especially playful mood. One does give it a go, gently patting a ping pong ball once, but the others just turn their back in disgust. The experience was described as 'lame,' 'dead', and 'super-lame.' Reported average score: 2.

Test 2: Does Catnip Help Cats Relax?

The cats are then offered a section of relaxation aids including cushions, throws, scratching pads, rubbing surfaces, and a nature video of a cheetah chasing some wildebeests.

In Room 1, the cats are blissed out within seconds – there's a lot of happy dribbling, some enthusiastic purring, crossed eyes, and then deep sleep. Comments before sleep include "I'm floating on an island in my mind." Average relaxation levels out of ten were reported as 9.5. 

In Room 2, the cats are more relaxed than they were, but still don't appear super chill. All are interested in the wildlife video and remain alert to the possibilities of transferring these skills into their own lives, but none fall asleep, and all are clearly aware that nothing much is happening. Comments include: "Do we get to swap rooms?", "So that stuff was dud, right?" and "I hate my brother." Average relaxation levels out of ten were reported as 1.75.

Test 3: Does Catnip Make Cats Bond Better?

In the final test, the cats are shown a series of images - of their siblings, their roommates, and of well-known but divisive feline celebrities, including Cat Kardashian and Prince Hairy. They are asked to rate their feelings of empathy and bonding towards them.  

In Room 1, the cats all slump together in a cozy entanglement of limbs while completing the test. It's hard picking out who's leg is whose, who's tail belongs where etc. There's a lot of love in everyone's eyes, some mutual washing, and plenty of purring. Statements overheard include "I love you, man," "I love you too, man," and "You're my best friend, man; what was your name again?". Results of the picture test averaged out at 8.75 out of 10.

In Room 2, the cats worked together politely to complete the test but were clearly beginning to tire of their surroundings. Several attempts to escape the room were observed, and there was some cosmetic damage to the carpet. Results of the picture test averaged out at 3.25 out of 10. 

The Big Reveal: Does Catnip Get Cats High?

We can now reveal the definitive results of our test.

In Room 1, participants recorded a combined score for playfulness, relaxation and bonding of 9.33 out of 10.

In Room 2, the combined score was 2.33 out of 10.

But who took what? 

In Room 1, we used the highest potency, 79% nepetalactone, 100% natural catnip - Cat Crack. 

In Room 2, we used organic cat mint.

The results were definitive. Cat nip does get cats high – in a good, healthy, controlled way, with lasting, life-enhancing benefits.

Is Catnip Bad for Cats - Can Cats Overdose on Catnip?

To complete the process, the esteemed Professor Von Shorthair followed up 24 hours later, submitting the cats to a battery of wellness tests and a final questionnaire. All the cats from both groups reported as healthy and happy. For a final comment, we asked Professor Von Shorthair to report on any possible negative effects of catnip:

"Ze good quality, organic, 100% natural catnip is categorically not bad for cats. Just like ze glass of red wine, ze sun on ze face, or ze sharing of 'grown up time' with a treasured loved one, catnip enhances our healthy enjoyment of life. A cat cannot 'overdose' on catnip in ze traditional sense – it is not toxic and can't 'damage' you. But just like if you eat too many treats, or stare for too long at a fire, too much catnip in one go can leave you feeling a little worse off after. But it's only temporary, you will soon be back to ze best, no problem. Go catnip – it is ze best of life!" 

Are YOU a cat who likes catnip?  

Not sure? Then grab a free hit. 

Available On: 

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