Does Catnip Make Cats Sleepy?

Does Catnip Make Cats Sleepy

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a weedy plant and a member of the mint family. It is native to Central Asia and the Middle East, but it is easy to cultivate in other countries. The plant has light-green foliage with lavender flowers, and is also called catswort or catmint. This plant has surprising effects on a cat’s behavior and can transform the most ferocious lions into adorable big kitties. 

Does catnip make cats sleepy?

Yes, catnip makes cats sleepy if it is eaten. It acts as a sedative and causes cats to drool, purr, and fall asleep. The reason why cats react like this is due to the oil found on the plant’s roots, leaves, and seeds. The oil contains nepetalactone, a chemical that mimics a cat’s happy pheromones. 

Cats that smell catnip show a different side of themselves because they become hyperactive and full of energy. They tend to have an uplifted mood and will rub their face and body on the plant to release more of the aroma. They may also manifest aggression as a means to protect their newfound discovery. Surprisingly, only 50 to 70% of cats react to it at all. 

What are the side effects of catnip on cats?

These are the common side effects of catnip on cats:

  • Rolling on the ground
  • Rubbing their face and body on the plant or catnip-infused toy
  • Zoning out
  • Meowing and growling at the same time
  • May become hyperactive or very aggressive
  • Purring
  • Drooling 
  • Play fighting with the toy stuffed with catnip
  • Kicking the catnip-filled toy with its hind legs while holding it with her front paws

Why use catnip to make your cat sleepy?

You can use catnip to make your cat sleepy so she will feel calm and relaxed.  The sedative properties of the plant can be helpful if your cat is feeling scared, stressed, or nervous.  

You can use catnip to help your cat cope with difficult situations such as the following:

  • Moving to a new location
  • Getting a new pet in the house 
  • Taking your cat to the veterinarian
  • Dealing with the loss of a family member

Catnip allows your cat to feel her best and alleviates her stress and anxiety. It can also reduce boredom and boost her activity level. It can be used in many forms, such as flakes, spray, compressed, or treats. 

When should you offer catnip to your cat?

You can offer catnip to your cat when she is around the age of three to six months. She already has the potential to respond to the plant during this age based on her genetic makeup. You should not offer catnip to kittens under two months old since they are unable to react to it. 

Can too much catnip kill a cat?

No, too much catnip cannot kill a cat, although it could result in a mild spell of diarrhea.  It is safe for cats and is not toxic or addictive. You can use it as a training aid or reward. You can also stuff it into socks as simple cat toys, rub it on scratching posts, or sprinkle some of it into your cat’s new bed. 

The most effective type of catnip is fresh and dry. It is easy to grow, and you can cultivate it in pots that you can place in your windowsill or garden.  Store unused herbs and leaves in a zip lock bag and place them inside the refrigerator for future use. 

It is interesting to note that not all cats respond to catnip. Around one in two cats may develop a sensitivity to it, but the effects will only begin to show when they are three to six months old. The reason why some cats do not respond to it is due to genetics. While some are susceptible to the effects, some cats do not have that genetic makeup and will not react. 

How long does it take for a cat to get high on catnip?

It takes about 10 minutes for a cat to get high on catnip; the cat then becomes temporarily immune to its effects for about 30 minutes.  The response to catnip is hereditary, and 50 to 70% of cats will exhibit this behavior when exposed to catnip. Thirty to fifty percent of cats will not respond to catnip at all. 


Catnip is a weedy plant of the mint family, also called catmint or catswort. It gives cats a natural high because of the oil found in its leaves, seeds, and roots. Its oil contains nepetalactone, a chemical that mimics a cat’s happy pheromones. This plant acts as a sedative that makes cats sleepy and relaxed if it is eaten. Some may also react aggressively and become hyperactive. 

Image: / fukh