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Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best organic catnip

Catnip is a plant that can make cats hyper, playful, or even drowsy. Like many foods, it may be treated with pesticides, which can be harmful for cats. Fortunately, there are many organic catnips available that are perfectly safe and healthy for your cats.

Catnip comes in many forms. It may be sold loose, allowing you to offer it to your cat in a variety of ways, or it may come stuffed inside a toy. There are also catnip sprays and oils, which can be applied to toys or scratchers. Catnip doesn’t have to just be for your furry friends, however — it has culinary uses as well. Whether you are purchasing this delightful plant for yourself or for your pet, you should look for organic catnip that has not been treated with pesticides.

While catnip is fairly inexpensive, it is important to find a variety your cat enjoys and that keeps your cat healthy. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits and effects of organic catnip.

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Catnip is also known as catswort and catmint.

What is catnip?

Catnip (nepeta cataria) is a part of the mint family of plants. It can grow to be 40 inches high and has brown or green leaves and a square stem. The leaves have small teeth, and the plant blooms white or pink flowers. Contrary to what many pet owners may believe, it is not a drug or a hallucinogen.

Yes, your cat may act “high” after sniffing a pinch of catnip. But what’s really going on is the cats are smelling (and sometimes ingesting) the oil known as nepetalactone, which acts as a feline pheromone.

Strangely, catnip is both a stimulant and a sedative — no, don’t worry. It’s still not a drug. When a cat smells catnip, the oil acts as a stimulant and can make your cat energetic, frisky, or aggressive. If a cat ingests catnip, it can act as a sedative and can even help cats calm down and fall asleep. When eaten, it may also cause them to purr and become affectionate. The effects of catnip typically wear off after about 10 minutes.  

After the initial introduction to catnip, cats will not be affected by the plant for several hours.

Is catnip harmful for cats?

In short, no. In fact, it can be quite healthy. It has dietary benefits and can encourage your cat to exercise, or it can aid with your cat’s sleep habits. There are no addictive qualities of catnip — it simply makes cats feel good.

If your cat is given too much catnip in a short period, they may vomit or have diarrhea. Catnip should never be given to pregnant cats as it may trigger early labor.

Identifying organic catnip

Many catnip brands state that they use 100% organic catnip. Check the ingredients list to make sure there are no other ingredients whatsoever.

The best organic catnips are USDA certified organic, which tells you the certifying agency has assessed the product to ensure it meets their standards for organic goods. This label refers to the methods used to grow the plant and indicates that no substances unapproved of by the USDA were used.

In general, you can rest assured that organic catnips did not use pesticides, but you may want to look into the practices of each individual company.

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Did you know?
Cats often enjoy the stems and flowers of catnip as much as they like the leaves.

Catnip varieties and uses

Catnip comes in a few different forms and can be used in different ways to make cats happy, energized, or relaxed. But it isn’t just for felines. Dogs can also benefit from catnip, and it has a few culinary uses.

Catnip forms

Loose catnip looks a bit like tea leaves and is dried in appearance. It may come in a plastic bag or a sealable container. Containers are often better as they preserve the oil and keep the catnip fresh for longer.

Catnip oil is the essential oil of the plant, nepetalactone. In this form, the oil is more commonly used with essential oil diffusers. Cats may still enjoy the stuff, but it is meant more for humans.

Fresh catnip in the form of the plant itself is commonly used as a decorative garden plant. Cat owners should beware, the plant will attract cats just as the dried stuff will. When grown indoors, there’s a good chance your cats will demolish the plant and possibly knock its pot to the floor in their excitement. Expect a few neighborhood cats to find this pleasant-smelling treat in your garden.

Catnip spray uses a concentrated form of catnip oil for a spray that cats love. It can be applied to toys, scratchers, or cat trees.

Human uses

Just as this plant can relax cats when ingested, it acts as a sedative for humans as well. Some people use the leaves in tea, while others use the essential oil to treat ailments like migraines and insomnia.

Catnip can also help dogs relax and aid their digestion, though it won’t make them hyper.

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Did you know?
Cats react differently to catnip — some may have no reaction at all, so you should test your cat with a small amount of catnip before purchasing an organic catnip product. ?

Organic catnip prices

Inexpensive: Low-priced organic catnip products can be found for $5 to $10. These may include dried catnip, catnip oil, or catnip seeds. Products in this range usually include a small amount of catnip, and they may not be as fresh as more expensive catnip.

Mid-range: For $10 to $15 are a variety of catnip products, including organic catnip sprays. Products in this range tend to come in a larger quantity and may be fresher. Catnip plants and plant kits also fall into this range.

Expensive: Catnip products for $15 to $30 may be fresher than less expensive products, but the difference in quality may be negligible. Often the price is associated with a larger quantity. Many catnip essential oils fall into this price range.

Keeping catnip fresh and your cat happy

  • To release the oil contained in catnip leaves, rub them gently between your fingers before giving the plant to cats to sniff or eat.

  • Instead of buying a catnip toy, you can rub catnip directly on a cat toy or even leave the cat toy in the container of catnip.

  • Don’t underestimate your cat’s tenacity when it comes to locating the good-smelling stuff. Keep catnip in a sealed container, ideally a glass or plastic jar, as cats can easily chew through plastic bags and may ingest the plastic. The container should be in a place that is hard for cats to reach, like a high cabinet.

  • Catnip can be kept fresh in the freezer in a sealed container. This preserves the oil for long periods and allows you to thaw out catnip when you need it.

  • If you grow your own catnip, you can trim it and dry the leaves to use it later or put it in tea. Simply trim the stems (leaves and all) and put them on a baking sheet for a few minutes.

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While you may get a better deal buying a larger tub of catnip, it may lose potency before you have a chance to use it.


Q. How long does catnip stay fresh?
Most dried catnip should last about six months before it begins losing potency. The same goes for catnip toys and scratchers.

Q. Is it normal for dried catnip to contain the stem of the plant?
This is perfectly normal and fairly common, as cats love the smell and taste of the stem as much as the leaves.

Q. Can you grow catnip indoors?
Yes, though the plant requires plenty of light. You may need to occasionally move the plant outside to give it sufficient sunlight.

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