A perennial plant belonging to the mint family has a history of having healing properties.
More than its healing power it is known more for its effect on the cat family. They show variety of behavior when they smell catnip. It is not a very difficult plant to grow and it could overrun the garden if they are not controlled. This herb is a native of Mediterranean countries but they are wildly found in United States of America and Canada. They are also known as catswort, or catmint and botanical name is Nepata cataria.
It has soothing qualities and had been used for this property by humans. They supposed produce numbing effect and is consumed as tea, juice, poultice, and tincture and also smoked. Its essential when extracted have properties to repel mosquitoes.
More than human it has a significant effect on feline be it big or small. Most of the cats are affected by when they smell this herb and exhibit varied behavior. On smelling the plant they start to rub, rolling on the plant, drooling and start consuming much of the plant. The same instincts are triggered in the cat for a second dose of behavior after two hours. The nepetalactone is the chemical which triggers this activity in the brains of feline. The chemical enters the olfactory part of the brain through the nose and causes this reaction.
The effect of the plant in cats is found to have hereditary pattern. Big cats like tigers and lions are also seemed to be affected by the smell of the plant. The reason human are not affected is due to the fact that they are unable to smell them.
Thirty percent of the cats do not respond to this plants and kittens less than three months old do not show any reaction to the herb. They are used as a toy for felines. They are nontoxic and do not have side effects. Some cats might vomit due to excessive consumption. In such cases it is advised to limit the quantity given to the cats.
Catnip is very easy to grow and they are available in local nursery, only precaution to be taken is that they take over the garden. They have used by humans in tea as they produce soothing and calming effect. But currently they are more popular as feline toys and for the entertaining effect produced in cats. It is completely harmless and can be consumed by cats as they have no toxic properties.