The internet is rife with funny cat videos showing their reactions to a plant commonly known as “catnip.” What is catnip, does it affect all felines, is it safe for cats, and should humans use it? This Special Feature investigates these questions and more.
Nepeta cataria, or “catnip,” is an herb belonging to the same plant family as mint. Although it originated in parts of Europe and Asia, the plant is now common across several continents, including North America.
Because, like regular mint, catnip proliferates easily, many cat owners grow the plant in pots as a special treat for their feline friends.
As part of the mint family, fresh catnip also smells minty, though this is not the case for the dried catnip sometimes present in commercial cat treats or toys, which may smell more like dried grass.