How do you Make Catnip Tea for Cats?
If you’re a cat owner, you’re probably aware that cats love tea and you might be curious about how to make catnip tea for cats.
Your feline friend gravitates towards the smell of specific types of tea.
You might find her sniffing or even licking tea directly from your cup.
But keep in mind that large caffeine ingestions can be fatal to your cat.
So, it’s essential to keep caffeinated drinks like coke, coffee, and true teas from your furball.
Many herbs used in making tea are safe for cats to enjoy.
A perfect example is catnip tea, a member of the mint family, which is considered to be a feline favorite.
Catnip produces a chemical that activates your cat’s opioid reward system, causing a scent-induced kitty high.
Perhaps you want your cat to enjoy catnip’s euphoric and relaxing effects?
First Things First - What Is Catnip?
Nepeta cataria, popularly known as catnip or catmint, is a perennial herb belonging to the mint family.
The catnip plant is native to Africa, Asia, and Europe.
It was introduced to North America by settlers, where it’s become a popular herb in gardens and grows as a weed in many regions.
Catnip plants can grow up to 2-3 feet high. Their stems have heart-shaped leaves with a greenish tinge.
The flowers of catnip plants are pretty small, featuring pale purple or lavender colors.
Catnip plants are easy to grow and do well in full sunlight.
When cats smell the great fresh minty scent of catnip, they exhibit unusual behaviors like rolling around, jumping, salivating, vocalizing, and rubbing their heads and body on the herb.
This response often lasts up to 10 minutes, after which your furry friend temporarily becomes immune to the effects of catnip for about an hour before it can be affected by it again.
How Does Catnip Work?
Cats possess a special scent organ called the vomeronasal gland, located on the roof of their mouth.
The gland is essentially a scent analyzer and contains ducts that allow smells collected in the cat’s mouth and nose to reach the brain.
Catnip leaves and stems contain volatile oils, acids, tannins, and sterols.
Nepetalactone, a volatile oil in catnip plant leaves, enters the cat’s special nasal tissue, where it binds to the protein receptors that stimulate sensory neurons, according to some experts.
This, in turn, provokes a response in the olfactory bulb neurons that are expressed in several brain regions, including the amygdala and hypothalamus, which regulate body temperatures, eating, drinking, emotions, and sexual behavior.
How Does Catnip Affect Cats?
Catnip typically creates a ‘sexual response’ by mimicking feline sex hormones (feline pheromones).
That’s why pets enjoying catnip tea for cats exhibit behaviors similar to female cats in heat.
These behaviors can include relaxation, peace, happiness, affection, playfulness, and sometimes aggression.
Some veterinarians suggest that the calming effect of catnip tea is a great way to relieve pain and reduce anxiety.
Catnip is also considered a mild sedative, often consumed as an herbal tea to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.
Some cat owners drop their cat toys in catnip tea bags for days and then offer the refreshed toys for their cats to sniff and enjoy the stimulant effects or euphoric reaction.
Does Catnip Affect All Cats?
Interestingly, not all cats respond to the active ingredients in loose catnip tea for cats.
According to veterinary studies, only about 60% of cats are affected by catnip.
Evidence suggests that cats’ behavioral reaction to catnip is an inherited trait.
Additionally, although catnip does not cause any side effects for kittens, most won’t react to the herb until they are about six months old and start reaching sexual maturity.
While some cats increase sensitivity over the years, older cats can be less sensitive to catnip.
6 Benefits of Catnip Tea for Cats
1. Can boost fitness
Cats need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day to keep their weight in check and avoid health issues like joint pain. Catnip toys can help get your older cat or lap cat moving.
2. Can help solve common cat behavioral problems
Cat behavioral problems can be a big barrier to a tight bond between you and your feline companion.
If your indoor cat drives you nuts, for instance, by scratching furniture, you can sprinkle some catnip on its scratching posts/mats to draw its attention to them.
3. Can relieve stress
The calming effects of catnip tea for cats can help promote relaxation and reduce stress, anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness.
You can give your cat a small amount of catnip tea before an anxiety-inducing event, like a visit to a veterinary.
4. Respiratory support
There is clinical evidence that the essential oils in a cup of tea have bronchodilating properties which can improve respiratory function.
5. Can help with digestion
Catnip tea has a long history of use to boost human health and help with diarrhea, gas, indigestion, and stomach cramps.
It is said to help with digestive issues like upset stomach and heartburn.
6. Emotional well-being
The sedative effects of catnip tea for cats can help promote restful sleep while relaxing tension.
A study found that catnip can help ease feelings of nervousness.
How to Make Catnip Tea for Cats
Cats can safely ingest dried or fresh catnip leaves.
However, ingesting large amounts of catnip can cause digestive upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Fortunately, most cats can automatically self-regulate their food intake.
This means they won’t overeat a catnip plant or the content in your bag of catnip if they get a hold of it anyway.
The best way to regulate how much catnip tea your cat consumes is by serving it in moderation or as an occasional fun treat.
With that said, here’s how to make catnip tea for cats:
- One or two tablespoons of organic dried catnip leaves
- One cup of boiling hot water
- Add the catnip leaves to a cup and pour the boiling water over the leaves.
- Let the leaves steep for 10-15 minutes.
- Strain the tea and let it cool for a couple of minutes
- Serve your cat a little catnip tea in a shallow bowl immediately after cooling.
- The remaining tea should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container or a jar with a tight-fitting lid for future use.
Note: Pet owners who wish to skip the messy job of drying catnip leaves at home can buy dried catnip from their local pet store.
Also, remember that catnip will have a stronger taste if steeped for too long.
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